First Canter Steps Under Saddle!

Wiley is growing up fast! With a few trotting rides under his belt, it was time to try canter.

Just like when I first asked Wiley to trot under saddle, Wiley was put on the longe line. This way Wiley can focus on 1 variable of change-carrying a rider under saddle.  He doesn’t have to think about too much. I am in the middle giving cues and supporting him the whole time. Once again I chose Amy for the first canter ride because she is a quiet rider that won’t lock up if Wiley should pull a baby horse stunt.

Of course Wiley has no clue about canter aids under saddle, so Amy’s aids are only a pre-cue. Wiley is taking his commands from me. I just like him to get used to the idea of the under saddle aids. Eventually, he will start cantering off the pre-cue alone. Amy will only use her legs for transition to the canter and then take them off completely (no steering with them…that comes later). Her only steering is through the reins.

When Wiley first transitions into the canter, I click him after only 2-3 strides. This lets him know that the transition was correct. It also gives him a reward before he thinks too much about what is going on. After rewarding him for the transition twice, I go ahead and let him canter a full circle or so before a reward. In his 4th canter transition under saddle, I let him canter 3 full circles before giving him a  jackpot reward and ended it there. That is plenty for Wiley to think about day 1.

4 thoughts on “First Canter Steps Under Saddle!

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  1. So cool to watch your progress with Wiley. Where did you learn the clicker training? It’s amazing!

    1. I started clicker training about 18 years ago when I got Tucson. Back then, few people were doing it with horses (outside of trick training), so I just kind of cobbled stuff together. Since then, I have met some amazing people that have tons of clicker training experience with other animals, and they helped me refine my skills. I remember being ridiculed by other trainers for using this method in the early days. That kind of stuff stopped when I trained Tucson to do flying changes, passage, etc with absolutely nothing on him (not even a liberty rein :-). Hope I get there with the baby dinosaur some day.

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