Thursday, February 26, 2009

Dancing With Trigger - Sidepassing

Let's tune back into our live example, Trigger, to let you know where he is at with his dancing lessons. This will also give you a review of the sidepassing articles, the flexion articles and how they fit together to make a training plan. This is all part of the body control or western performance horse development training.
I taught Trigger to:
  1. Yield Hindqtrs while being handled (Groundwork)
  2. Yield Hindqtrs while being longed (Groundwork)
  3. Yield Hindqtrs, mounted @ standstill and
  4. Yield Hindqtrs while walking around the exterior of the round pen (body control/western performance horse developement)
Let me explain....
Yield Hindqtrs While Being Handled
When I started to work with Trigger while being groomed and tack up, I asked him to flex laterally (as you recall in my 1st lesson). This is where I usually check to see if the horse has had any prior experience to being flexed at all. He had none. (And that is typical. I don't usually expect it. I would be shocked if he did.)

He was a quick learner though. I was able to get him to flex laterally really quickly after the first session. I always repeat the lesson several times until I get some progress or slight understanding on the part of the horse before moving on to something else.
Incorporating Lateral Flexion with Yielding
I then progressed to teaching him to flex laterally and then to yield his hindqtrs over 1 step.
This is how you incorporate the yielding with the flexing. Or the next training step from the last training step. Once Trigger was quite familiar with flexing (almost to the point of boredom or too much anticipation), I was ready to move on to teaching him to yield his hindqtrs.

As I continued to work with Trigger on the ground (when I tacked and untacked him), I would continue to ask him to become familiar with lateral flexion and yielding (and then backup.... more on that on another article :). I did that with every ride so it became ingrained. I discontinued this when Trigger would anticipate and flex laterally the moment I picked up on the reins! Smart horse..... That's what you want.... Teamwork!

Yield Hindqtrs While Being Longed
When Trigger was ready to go outside and be worked within the riding area, I would check his longeing skills. He had been longed before. My longeing does not involve making the horse go fast until you tire the horse out. I ask the horse to listen to me and do or learn difference skills.

So I would then ask him to stop and flex him laterally. I would keep working on this until he became familiar with it while longeing. Longeing adds speed and movement into the equation.

I then asked him to stop, flex laterally and then yield his hindqtrs a step or 2.
Yield Hindqtrs Mounted @ Standstill
Once I was satisifed that Trigger knew how to flex laterally, flex laterally to stop, & yield hindqtrs a step or 2, I then repeated all the steps while mounted at a standstill.

When I first mount up on a horse, I always do a partial mount up..... always!.... for one thing... being a safety feature. (Besides wearing my helmet). (see article here on partial mount up). It allows me to do a preride check to make sure the horse is ready and I'm ready to ride. I try to eliminate any surprises.
I hadn't ridden Trigger before and I didn't know if he has any ISSUES with mounting or riding..... so I wanted to check to make sure it was ok. He showed no signs of having any problems with me getting on his back.
He is a nice horse and so there wouldn't be any issues but it's always a good idea to check. Even on your favorite horse, who may not be feeling well or something may spook them just at that time. (Who knows.... maybe I'm getting cautious at my wise age..... :)
I would then repeat the flexing and yielding hindqtrs while mounted. At this point it may sound boring to the reader that we are flexing and yielding, flexing and yielding, flexing and yielding... They do say training is boring sometimes.... perhaps this is where it comes from.... the repetition. I don't find it boring at all. I find it quite fascinating.
I'm just progressing now out in the small riding area. The round pen was not available as it was impassible with snow. (The round pen fence acted as a snow fence trapping snow). I was, however, quite able to work Trigger using the area around the round pen.

Yield Hindqtrs While Walking Around the Outside of the Round Pen (body control/performance hrose development)
I was looking for a way to teach Trigger to yield hindquarters while walking and this worked out just fine for me! I would ask Trigger to face the round pen fence from the outside and go around the outside of the round pen while yielding.

Worked great! He found it amusing. And I did too!

This is where we are at the moment with Trigger's sidepassing. I will write more as we progress.

In the next few articles I will talk about teaching a horse to backup and by request of a student.... the use of spurs.

Until next time....

Questions and comments are always welcome.
If you want any help or advice with this, please contact me.

Putting my spin on Leg Yielding, Body Control or Western Performance Horse Development!
©Copyright KISS Reiners

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