Saturday, November 10, 2007

Liberty and Horse Behaviour

I am up to DVD 4 of this study programme and it has helped me immensely with reading Garbo and when he is being dominant vs confident vs playful vs unconfident.

Todays 'task' from the DVD was to play the 7 games with 3 obstacles using our new strategies and knowledge of reading horse behaviour and then applying the relevant strategies.

So - what did I do different?

Well after watching the demo with Mickey (horse) and Linda - he was alot like Garbo and did the head down thing too - so I realised the head down (head in the sand) was definitely a lack of confidence (he couldn't look at me) which I had suspected but wasn't 100% sure until today. Although he is confident he can be an unconfident learner. So today I was less 'firm' which Jackie had suggested for the dominance and I was more quiet but asking, and he responded really well and I didn't lose his confidence at all.

When asking him to change direction on the circle at trot from right rein to left rein he avoids it/evades it, so today I just brought him back to walk and did it all in extra slow motion. And it worked. I think getting all dominant back at him was just making him less confident and a little fearful.

I am also very aware of not ruining my rapport and not ruining by draw....

So we also did some driving from Zone 3 nearly at the end of the 22ft line which I had not done before. I got him to stop at the cone on the circle so he didn't get bored - he picked that up pretty quick - and his trot was even better - more relaxed.

I was actually in the sloping paddock with Blue as the arena crowd wouldn't have liked my obstacles (a swiss ball, trot poles and a cone). And Blue just watched! Garbo was great, cantering past Blue without getting all wound up....

Then I took the rope off - large paddock, Blue loose in same paddock - not really setting it up for success but I had my treats for incentives! So we did walk/trot/walk/halt with me beside him and for the first time he learnt to back up and or stop with just the carrot stick to the front and side of him (not in front of him).

Then we went and investigated the swiss ball again (at liberty), then we did some small circle game at walk and trot and ended it on a good note.

I walked away and he kept following me. I went to fix some electric tape and he went to have a drink (and smell some poos - as you do) and I was about 50ft away. He looked up, ears forward and came trotting over to me - so cute!

I was really happy with todays session.... lots of good stuff.

Oh - the other things I did differently? I didn't stay on one task too long - did it once good and moved on, I didn't focus on the obstacle, at one point I tried to play 'don't touch the swiss ball' and it worked - he stuck his nose on it.

I released my energy alot and had lots of friendly breaks. I backed him up alot (good for dominance issues) and that fixed most things pretty quickly.

He offered sideways along a pole too!

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