Happy New Year!!!!
The horses are doing great! I love Alexandra Kurland’s book about clicker training and riding. The horses love clicker training. The click tells them when they do something GREAT and they also get a treat. What happens is: the horse starts to present behaviors that he thinks might get us to “click”. A few days ago I started teaching “Pretty Horse”. I click and treat (c/t) when the horse has his head and neck in the Grand Prix pose (on the bit, neck arch, breathtakingly gorgeous!). Talk about self-carriage!!!! “Pretty Horse” is clickable in free-longeing and they catch onto the pose really fast.
While riding I have the clicker and a treat. When the horse does something I like, I click and treat. The “something” can be as simple as walking with a nice forward rhythm (c/t). Or being on the bit with a very light contact (c/t). Or answering my request for a soft flexion while maintaining the forward rhythm on the bit (c/t). As a result I’ve accomplished more relaxation and proper carriage in a few sessions with the clicker than I have in the past three years.
One of Alexandra Kurland’s exercises is to have the horse stand still and place his nose on the arena floor. Not just above the floor, but in the footing. Talk about total trust and release of the back. Zelador and I have done this exercise about three times on three different days. Yesterday I could feel him getting revved up. I halted and we started the head lowering. He calmed down, stretched to the ground and kept his nose there, waiting for a click. After doing the “head to the ground” exercise a few times we walked off and went back to work. He was a changed horse… relaxed, attentive.
We did some free-jumping with Z and Z today and both of them flew over a pole that was about 12 inches off the ground. For the first time ever they learned that all four feet could be in the air. And, on one occasion Zelador was travelling to the right and Zeloso was going to the left. They cleared the jump at precisely the same time. Boy! What a picture that was! (Of course we didn’t have a camera!!!)
On a more mundane note: for most of December we had tons of snow. The paddocks were lovely with a soft cushion for the horses’ feet. Then we had two days of nine degrees and the last 12 hours it rained heavily! The only snow we see now is the remnants of the HIGHEST banks that were created by the snowplow. Well, we would have been doomed with all the melting and rain. I figured the farm would be a huge ice skating rink, BUT the winds came up and wicked away the wet. No ice!!!!!!