I decided to try to teach the horses to do flying changes at liberty, travelling beside me. They already do them changing from circle to circle.
I’ve done two sessions with Zelador. One key element is establishing a safe distance between him and me, but still being close enough to communicate what I’d like him to try. He’s a lot of horse. He’s quick. He’s powerful. He’s athletic. I start each session with asking for the canter around me and clicking the clicker the instant he does it. I change sides to get the other lead. Then I’m beside him and he’s walking. I ask, “Are you Ready!!!” (He was BORN ready.) I cue with raising the leg on my body that is the lead I want from him. So far I’m on the side I want the lead. For example I lift my left leg really high and ask him to strike off into the left lead canter. He does this by lifting his front end and softly, slowly starting the left lead canter. Since I click instantly, he immediately stops and gets a treat. As a result, he’s doing about two or three strides. My dream is to be able to get flying changes on four strides, then three strides, then two, then one. Gotta DREAM!!!!!
We are also walking and trotting under saddle around bloks that create a slalom. We walk the slalom at liberty. I’ll probably use the slalom at some point to help with the different canter leads. I’ll also play around with which side I’ll be on to cue both leads. Currently he loves his left lead so perhaps I can be on his right side where he’d appreciate some help getting the right lead. Or perhaps being on his left side I can ask him to move a bit laterally and forward to the right which will help with that lead.
I worked with Zeloso today (this was his only session) on the canter leads. Finding the correct distance between Zeloso and me is challenging. He has all of the talents of Zelador with the added bonus: he adores being on his hind legs. The slightest misplacing of my body and he’s UP. (Talk about being acutely aware of my body language!)
A few minutes into my session with Zeloso I found out that those two boys have been talking about this exciting new game. How do I know? When I was just about at the point where I was going to introduce the cue of me raising the appropriate leg really high Zeloso did three single flying changes in a row.