Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Starting Baby

I have a 2 and a half year old that I am just starting to get on. I have taken the time to mess with the tack, wiggle everything up there. Mount and dismount from each side and he seems okay with the weight and the fact that someone is on his back. I've tried asking him to walk and halt and move off the pressure of my leg. I'm not exactly sure if I'm asking correctly or if there is a certain way to go about this. Trying my hardest to ask clearly, squeezing and increasing pressure for forward motion until he responds with the correct action. He is then praised and then asked something else. Is there anything else I can do? Are there any exercises we might find beneficial?

I start all my horses out by first having them longing correctly. Quietly responding to my voice and body language they walk, trot, and when they are old enough, canter by command. I describe this in an article on my website, www.MitziSummers.com.
Then I have a person doing just what you have done with the saddle and getting on and getting off. Your goal is to make the pressure on the horse's side from your legs become a reflex to go forward. They feel it and just go forward, but of course this has to be taught.
In the beginning you can have a person or you on the horse and when you give a slight hug with your legs and say "walk on" the person simply starts the horse forward leading it. When the horse goes forward you praise this and repeat. In a very short time the horse understands that leg pressure and no restraint on the rein means to go forward. You may want to start out with a Bitless bridle. When it seems safe to not lead the horse anymore, this can follow through to work on the lunge. The rider will hug with her legs and saw "walk", and if the horse does not understand, the person longing reinforces with her voice and maybe shows the horse the lunge whip. The lunge whip is NEVER used to scare or punish..just an additional aid- an extension of your arm.
If at any time it seems that the horse does not understand, just go back to the beginning, even the leading. I once saw a trainer actually whip the horse in the beginning when the horse did not understand. This is not correct and is abusive.Make sure you never KICK the horse to go forward. Check your position and make certain that all of your aids are telling the horse the same thing.Feel free to write again.