one trick pony

My horse does a new trick.

I couldn't have taught him to do it if I tried.

Not sure if it was our unintentional one week break, or the deep sand, or combination thereof, but Koda decided it was easier to switch from left to right leads at close to a stand still, in mid air - then it would be to take the asked for left lead.

It goes something like this...

Pro-action: 360 circle at a trot, to assist in getting the correct left lead at a lope

Step one: cue for some power/lift from behind

Step two: start circle by turning away from the wall

Step three: keep horse moving forward through circle

Not a step: despite my best efforts, Koda slows waaaay down in anticipation 

Step four: while coming towards the wall (at whatever degree that is) cue for a lope, so the next natural step is the correct lead leg

Not a step: he doesn't take the cue. we are now at our beginning point, next to the wall, at all but a stand still, for a split second - in movement, in time, in air - as Koda sloooowly reaches forward with his left front inside leg - and does some funky bait-n-switch, that feels like it happens with a whoohoo hop, resulting in his preferred right (in this case, outside) lead.

Really horse? That is a lot more work then taking the dang correct lead! First try had me puzzled "did Koda just do what I think he did?" We loped a bit while I processed. He has the smoothest counter canter to the left...stopped, and tried it again.

Second try, I have a witness. Brad yells out "he just switched leads in mid-air". Yes, yes he did - I can clearly feel him doing it. 

Koda takes flying lead changes to a new level.

Third airborne acrobat move earned Koda a swat on the butt. He knows damn well what I am asking for! We have been practicing this for weeks, and had many, many successful lope-offs as well as some unsuccessful ones that led to subsequent tries. 

Were these executed perfectly, no. Do I need to keep Koda moving through the entire circle, yes! I am trying, it would be nice if he met me half way. I've gained approval from our trainer on several circle lope offs in the recent past, while visiting during our rides. It helps my confidence to have had a trained eye watch.

In my past, I've gotten plenty of smiles from trainers on my corrections. I dislike applying pressure (aka getting after my horse). So much, that some result in "is that all you got" looks from my horse "I thought that was a fly". However when I know it isn't me, or it's clearly naughty/unsafe, and fear has not welled up, I am capable of applying appropriate pressure. 

We had this down, and had worked back up to corner & even some straight wall lope offs - again. What a difference a week makes. I know Koda knows exactly what I am asking for, and so we progress onto...

Step five: horse remains moving forward, takes the correct lead and lopes off, continues collected and loping until I ask him to stop. That was the nicest lope I've gotten in a long time, what a sweet feeling! 

I could feel my horse thinking, as we rounded the arena with ease. He was probably cursing my name. Koda earned a big long break, and lotsa "atta-boy" affection afterwards. So much easier, and less work, then being a one trick pony! Later in our ride, we did the circle-off correctly again - with the first ask.

Sweet Koda


C-ingspots said...

You guys will get there. Ray used to tell us to "fix it up and let your horse find it". In other words, keep asking correctly, then wait for the horse to understand and comply...give him more time than to immediately do what you're wanting. It's ok not to rush, or want an immediate response. That will come. When we first started to learn to read, we didn't do it correctly all the time. Instead, we did it right sometimes, but with practice, we eventually got it right all the time. But, it takes time. It's alright for Koda to make some mistakes. Everybody does when they're learning. :) Sounds like you're having fun, and that's what really matters.

Anonymous said...

Sounds complicated! Surely he will figure out quickly that's it easier to stay on the "other" lead!!

4RRanch said...

I always start out cueing each horse the same but they all have their own idiosyncrasies so each one ends up with little "special" cues of their own.