BUILDING BLOCKS TO A SAFE HORSE UNDER SADDLE                          

By:  Dolores Arste

8/26/2004

 

 

A.      On the ground – baby steps

·         Target

·         Target nose & follow to the ground

·         Backing in a stall – back up all the way around a 12 by 12 stall

 

B.      On the ground in the training area

·         Bend the head and neck softly and stop the feet.  Both sides.

·         Stand both front feet on a board and step away with lead on the ground.  10 second minimum.

·         Stand on a board and lower the head to the ground – Start with poll pressure but before moving on get head down from the line pressure.  Feet stay still on the board.

·         Stand on a spot of earth that you choose and lower the head. 

·         Add the clear distinction of when you want the horse to stay vs. when to go.  Staying should always be the default.  Walk off by showing the way, as if taking someone to a table in a restaurant.  Both sides.

·         Bend to a stop – head & neck weigh nothing.  Both sides.

·         Walk off “showing the way” all around the training area.  Change direction left and right.  The hose stays soft and follows his nose wherever you go.

·         Bend to a stop from both sides.

·         Turn and face the horse and get 1 step back (1 foot even).

·         From the bend to a stop position – yield the hindquarters 1 or 2 steps from both sides.  Inside hind steps in front of outside hind.

·         From the bend to a stop position, yield the forequarter 1 or 2 steps from both sides.  Inside front steps forward in front of outside front.  Maintain the inside bend.

·         Using your “show the way” and “bend to a stop”, walk off maintaining the bend.  Walk straight and to the inside first and work towards going in all directions except back.  (Shoulder-in bend)

·         Yield the hindquarters (get them moving) a few steps and float the horse back (from both sides) keeping both horses eyes towards you.

·         Stand on a board and yield the hindquarters all the way around in a full circle.  Maintain the inside bend.  Both sides.

·         For a forward or foot stuck horse, spend a good amount of time backing at least ½ to ¾ of the short side of an arena or ¾ of a round pen.  Stay with this until with one request the horse “floats” back and bends it’s joints.

·         Continue to work on shoulder in bend all around the arena.  Begin to take short walks outside the arena in the shoulder in bend.  By this time all leading should be accomplished with a “bend”.  Work from both sides.  Go forward in bend prior to sideways (away from you).  Soften bend from just behind poll.

 

C.       Circles  

·         The circle starts with an inside bend then the shoulders are asked to yield, to create more space between handler and horse.  Only now can you ask for the send.  Maintain forward from behind.

·         At this point, what I call “body part in the way” can be employed:

·         Shoulder must stay out first, and then hips need to stay out to align the drill team.  Once these parts stay orderly and soft, ask the rib cage to maintain its up and out bend and the soft yield of the jaw and the horse is balanced and ready for upward transition only when the drill team can stay consistently aligned in both directions.

 

D.       Preparing to get on

·         Increase the horses understanding of “when to stay” and “when to go” by upping the distraction.  Have him follow you while you bounce a ball, roll a barrel, swing a whip.  Encourage him to “touch” (using targeting) scary objects. 

·         Can he go with you on a float?  Does he stay interested and curious?  Will he bend to a stop and stay stopped in the presence of scary things all around and touching him. 

·         Using the “stand on a board” skill stand next to a mounting block.

·         Head down at the mounting block, bend head and jaw.  By now horse should stay stopped.