I can't wait for the day when Juhl can be out there to ride and be with the horses with me without having to watch her every move.
Even thought he had two weeks to let our last session sink in, Ike was again amazing when I did get out there. He let me saddle him right up and after some circles both directions it was time to move on to some of the next steps!
Now the next few steps I kind of crammed into one session with Ike, not only because I don't make it out there enough and often enough, but also because he was doing excellent that day! The next few steps are as follows:
-Moving the hips and body to pressure (while saddled and bridled)
-Moving forward cue while saddled and bridled
Because I'm a little behind in the steps that I have laid out for you I didn't have the bridle on him at first when I practiced him moving his hips and shoulders and bending to where my leg pressure would be located. I make sure that my horse can bend his head around in both directions very easily and on light pressure. This is how I have the horses head when I begin the Up-Downs so it's important to have this step down before attempting to get on your horse!
When asking him to move his hips and shoulders I bend the horses head slightly with halter pressure and place my fist or fingers where my leg would be, when asking for the cue mounted, and use pressure to ask him to move his hips in the opposite direction. It is very important to know when to release pressure so you don't ask for too much right away and confuse your horse. On the first few times of asking I release the second I see the foot even slightly come off the ground. I don't ask for a full step right away because I want to reward him for trying even in the slightest way at first. After a few times like that I will begin to ask for a full step and then once that's solid I'll ask for a couple steps and so forth. Be sure to be putting the pressure with you fingers or fist where your leg would be when asking for him to move his hips. We are practicing on the ground for what we want when we're in the saddle so our horse already understands what we're asking. This not only makes it easier once we're in the saddle, but it's over all safer.
Same for moving the front shoulders over. You will use the lead rope to cue the horse to slightly bend his head around in the direction you want his shoulders to move. From the ground, I put the lead rope on the far side of his neck opposite me and bend his head away from me SLIGHTLY, then apply pressure with my fingers or fist where my leg placement would be to ask for the shoulders to move away. Again, know when to release right away so you only ask for a LITTLE BIT at first and then increase it from there. Go from slightly lifting the shoulder or foot, then move to actually having the leg cross over to take a step, and eventually getting more steps.
Earlier I mentioned that I hadn't introduced the bridle and bit before this session. I worked on him moving his hips, shoulders and bending at first WITHOUT the bridle so keep him more comfortable. Once he was moving away good then I introduced the bridle. I put the bridle on and then the halter over the top of it. He did some chewing and moving the bit around, and was very focused on the bridle instead of me at first. Once he seemed a little more comfortable with it I began to ask for him to move to pressure again. This taught him to listen to me while also having the bridle on now. Even though I'm not using reins directly attached to the bit, it is good for him to get used to the feeling of working while having it on, and I still used the lead rope and halter for my head cues.
Time for UP-DOWNS!!! Once my horse is doing good on bending his head around in both directions I will start my Up-Downs. I makes sure my cinch is tight, then I bend his around towards me (this allows me to have control of his body AND keeps his attention on me and what I'm doing), and place my foot in the stirrup and put slight pressure in it.... I DON'T get up in the stirrup on the first few times. You can also do this by just putting you hand in the stirrup and pushing down so he gets the feeling of the saddle pressure when there is weight in the stirrup. If he stands good I immediately release his head and praise him.
I do this a few times and if he's doing good then I'll proceed to stand up in the stirrup. I don't stay up but only a second or two the first few times and then release his head and praise him if he stands there. If he moves his feet, I keep holding his head around because it allows me to control his body and he cant take off on me. I continue to stay up in the stirrup and almost lay my stomach in the seat of my saddle so I'm close to him and can keep my balance better. It also allows me to hang on better if moves around pretty quick or just rub his neck and should on his far side to reassure him until he stops moving his feet. The second he stops moving his feet I get down out of the stirrup and release his head and give him lots of praise and reassurance.
I repeat the Up-Downs over and over and gradually increase the time that I stay up in the stirrup until I feel he's comfortable. I then repeat EVERYTHING on the OTHER SIDE ALSO. Even though I don't mount my horses on the right side very often, it's always good to teach everything from both sides of the horse!
I've done the up downs and now we move on to the moving forward cue while saddled and bridled but we are still on the ground. Now we can't exactly put pressure on both sides of our horse at the same time to mimick our legs squeezing for a forward cue, but this is more for getting our horses to listen to our voices and body more. I practice getting my horse to respond to clicks and kissing sounds to where he moves out easily without me having to swing a rope of string towards his but. This is also how I want him to start responding better to even more slight signals to move out from my body language. It might be to slightly lift the carrot stick (without waving it) and he moves out for me... or even using my arm and by lifting it he moves out. All of this is just getting him to listen to me better and respond to even lighter cues more and more.
Ike did such a good job with this session (I'm sorry I didn't get any pictures!!!) that all of this really only took us 30 minutes or so. Even though it wasn't a long session this is actually a really good amount of time, because it doesn't over stimulate the horse to where he gets sick of me asking him to do stuff and he ends up ignoring me or getting a hard head and not responding to cues at all. This is why RELEASEING at the right time is VERY IMPORTANT!!! Not only is releasing pressure for each exercise important, you need to end sessions and release your horse from the lesson at the right time too so he understands he did good and he gets his break from work now because he did things correctly. TRY to always end on a GOOD note. It's not always possible, but it's what you want to aim for. Even if it means a five or seven minute session in total, sometimes that's all it takes!
This is a great session because it incorporates more than one step and they all work together smoothly. Each step works with each other to come to the end goal of being mounted and listening to pressure so we get a smooth first ride and communication is more clear once I'm in the saddle. Coming up is the step that includes the FIRST RIDE!!!
You may be ahead of me on your steps and progress which is GREAT and I'd love to hear your progress and how things are going for you!! Comment below or contact me directly through the contact tab above!! If your progress is a little slower going that is ok! Go at the pace that is best for your horse so he learns to the best of his ability and in the end he'll only be even better because more time was spent on clarifying each step.
I hope you to see you back soon for the next step(s) in the 21 Steps to Broke series!! Get ready to climb up in the saddle!