I've said before that I should have named Percy "Earnest". He tries SO hard at everything he does. I just adore this little booger. Today I thought he should start to learn about doing some trot work in hand. I never took him to any of the warmblood testings as a foal or older because it was just too inconvenient (he was born late in the year) and too expensive. Now I'm really glad I didn't because behavior wise, I'm not sure how it would have affected him. Those must be pretty traumatic experiences- to be taken away from home and then chased around at such a young age. Plenty of horses survive but when I see how he took to it today, at 15 months old, I was glad that we were able to be casual about it.
I had actually played with it a little out in the paddock when he was loose recently which is what made me think about doing it. He and Rumer always come hustling over whenever I show up and when I walk through their paddock they are right beside me wondering if they can entice me to play. One day I saw Percy was in perfect leading position beside me so I C/T'd a couple times to engage him and then jogged a couple steps. He picked up a trot instantly. I C/T'd but we were at the barn by then and I did no more.
Today I put his halter and lead on and started by leading him around his paddock. I am working on getting him to walk straight since he loves to do his little lateral steps for me (like the previous post, for everything you teach, you must also teach the opposite! I didn't want a horse who only walks sideways!). Once he was walking nice and straight, I gave a little tug on the lead and started to jog. No response. I clucked and pulled some more. No response. I decided I better not release the pressure on the rope or I'd be rewarding him for ignoring me so I kept jogging and pulling. He was doing his best warmblood donkey imitation. Except that I could see his eyes were trying to figure out what the heck I was doing.
I stopped and thought for a minute. This was not what I was expecting after his willingness to jog alongside me previously. So I decided to try that approach. I went back next to his shoulder and stayed at his shoulder but started to actively jog while keeping at his shoulder. His walk quickened. C/T. Tried again and got another very forward walk. C/T. The third time I held out a little longer and he jumped into a little trot step which I immediately clicked. Another one of those "oh, why didn't you say so?" looks from him. Again I started to jog and he immediately picked up a trot with me. He looks so satisfied with himself and relieved when he figures something like that out. So we went around the paddock a couple times, trotting for increasing lengths of time and with NO pressure on the leadrope. I added in the "trrrrot" verbal cue and also switched sides so he would trot with me on either side. Then I started to lengthen my stride a little bit and he matched me automatically. Whatever pace I picked, he kept his shoulder right next to me, lengthening his stride accordingly. No chasing, no clucking, no whips, no pulling. Don't ask me how he figured it out but the resulting work was wonderful!