Monday, March 16, 2009

Ande at almost 3

Ande is the last one to be introduced and he has the biggest goal for the year! Ande will be three years old on May 23rd and so this year he becomes a riding horse. He has had lots of work in hand since birth, and late last year I introduced him to long lining. Late this winter I have been able to do a little more long lining with him and I've been thrilled at how much he has remembered and how brave he is. Last fall I also sat on him with the help of a friend at his head. This friend has done a lot more clicker training than I have so she made sure I took baby steps all the way and clicked and treated him as we went. He was great about it. A week or so later, I got on him again by myself- she had led me a couple steps on him but I did not try to do that on my own. At this point, he has no idea what leg aids mean.

One of my projects while I long line him has been to get him consistent on a voice cue for walk from a halt so that I have a way to get him to walk forward once I am on him and can then transition him over to leg aids. Normally I would use a "cluck" to get him to go forward but my history has taught me how to escalate the clucking too easily and that leads to my losing my patience. So instead I am using a kissing noise. I have used that to get his attention and to get him to come to me and it is a sound he likes and associates with paying attention and moving. So that is what I have used while long lining him. I try to click and reward frequently when he responds quickly to it, which of course means that he stops to get his treat...but that is a good excuse to practice it again!

I am also trying to fine tune some of the "Why Would You Leave Me?" (WWYLM) game that we have been doing for a while. This is how flexions are introduced on the ground and lead to lateral movement on the ground. I am very excited to get on a horse for the first time who already knows how to flex and move laterally...the babies I've ridden before have certainly not had those basics! It is challenging right now to find an area of ground the size of a decent circle that is not icy or muddy to practice this in. But on these nice warm days, we'll deal with the footing!

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