Sunday, February 9, 2014

Step Up The Walk

While it is still frigid cold on the prairie the wind died down enough that I decided to brave an in-hand walk with Abby. We managed a 45 minute walk both yesterday and today. Now, in order to stay warm, I have to walk, not stroll. I had noticed that Abs tends to dog it a little on the lead but up until today I had just tried to use my go-to trick for doggy (lags behind) horses and up until today I thought that I had made some headway...but my consistently quick pace really showed just how little Abs cared to come forward off of my hand. My go-to trick, btw is this: I hold the lead rope in a strong fist and place it on my hip bone and pretend that I have "tied" my horse to my hip bone. The assumption here is that a horse knows how to come forward off of pressure. I walk forward and when the horse hits the end of the line I hold fast against the anchor of my hip and continue walking at my set pace. When the horse come forward, (even just slightly) they find release because my hand hasn't moved (as it would have were it not anchored by my hip). By holding the hand on an anchored point you ensure that when the horse comes forward they will always find immediate relief (release) just like when tied. If your hand is not anchored it is more likely that you will inadvertently pull back a little bit when the horse comes forward off of pressure. I love this little trick and use it when ponying and or even on the lunge line if my horse gets to pulling wide. But I guess that pressure just wasn't annoying enough to motivate Abs to stride out. So today I set my mind to being really consistent in correcting her. I used my hip trick but when Abs hit the end of the line and didn't come forward I picked up my lead hand and use the tail (in my off hand) in a swinging motion behind her drive line. It took about ten minutes of constant correction before she decided that going to work at the walk was actually an easier option. Now I just have to remember to be consistent when I am leading her as I tend to get distracted on my walks and I forget that I am always training, whether conscientiously for the good or unconsciously for the bad.

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