Teaching Q About Forward Energy
Before I can move to ground driving or working under saddle, I must first know that my horse can work in a forward frame of mind on a lunge line. Teaching a horse to carry forward energy on her own is key to having a horse that will be responsive to light aids and bold/confident when approaching new obstacles under saddle.
In this first session with Q working to teach her about maintaining forward energy on a circle, I hope you can see the progression from frustration and confusion to her lightbulb moment of learning to maintain forward energy on her own. It takes lots of small adjustments to body position, intensity of aids (the end of the lead rope and my voice in this case), as well as patience and good timing for rewards.
Also, always keep in mind that no matter what you do with your horse, they need mental breaks just as much as physical breaks. In this 30-minute session with Q we had a break for free lunging, and a couple breaks to go back to "forward, halt, back" as a way to give her a mental break.
It's a long video, but I chose to share the full session (I only cropped out the sections where we ended up being out of the camera frame) because I hope you can learn by seeing the "struggles" that resulted in the success. And please notice that once I got her going in her more challenging direction to the right, I stopped after only a few circles. There is no need to continually drill your horse asking for perfection. Often times the best reward in your horse's mind is being able to rest as soon as they figure it out.
Of course each horse is different, so there's never a one size fits all solution, but Q's personality is one that is more timid and thoughtful. If you have a horse that tends to be bold and even pushy, you may need to be more assertive with how you approach this exercise, but if you have a horse that needs confidence and is more sensitive, this is the approach I would take: be kind, soft and very sparing with "demanding" a response.
6/20/2017 11:25:48 am
Well done. Two questions: 1. would you ever use a rope halter and why or why not; and, 2. I've read talking a lot to horses can confuse them, but you seem to talk to them pretty much the whole time and I find it hard not to -- any thoughts?
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By Kyle Rothfus
This blog is dedicated to providing insight about OTTB re-training, Thoroughbred pedigrees and general equine care. You can also track the progress of horses I have for sale through posts here.