Tucson’s Liberty Jumping Featured in Horse Nation!

Tucson's Liberty Jumping makes Horse Nation
Tucson’s Liberty Jumping makes Horse Nation

My “once in a lifetime” horse Tucson passed away back in 2013. So, imagine my surprise when I found out he had been featured in Horse Nation. I love the idea that he is still doing his “demos” for people, even long after he has gone. I hope he is still getting carrots in heaven every time someone watches him jump at liberty!  As of today, there are over 30K views….that’s a lot of carrots!

On Your Mark…

Training a horse to go to its “mark” is super easy. In this video, Wiley has had 4 days of training to target to his mark. He got the idea of this game easily and loves to play it.  Since Wiley has a super high play drive, this is a great way to engage his mind while getting some energy out. He gets bored pretty easily, so I constantly have to find new and fun things to train on.

I used a mat for Wiley’s “mark” and started by just leading him up to it. When he put both feet on the mat, I rewarded him. It didn’t take long before he got the idea. Next, I free longed him, gave the command “mark”  and removed the driving aids. Wiley came in to the mat. It took Wiley a few attempts to understand that BOTH feet had to be on the mat for the reward, but I just hung out and waited. He eventually figured it out. When he was consistent at going onto the mat, I took him to the other end of the arena and gave the command “mark.” You can see his first attempts on the video below. By the way… the video and the still shot were taken by my little 8 year old man Karsten. He’s getting pretty good!


Free Jumping at Liberty – Almost Ready to Jump a Course!

Here is the last step before Wiley learns to jump mini courses! Wiley can:

  • jump a single pole on command
  • be “sent”down a line of jumps
  • be “recalled” down a line of jumps

These are all the basics of free jumping a course. I have started adding some energy to the process as well. Wiley is starting to offer the trot for both the “send” and “recall.” Of course the “jumps” are only poles. I don’t raise the jumps until the horse totally comprehends the idea of jumping courses at liberty. Even then, the jumps are just gradually raised. Wiley is only 2 in this video, so he won’t be jumping any big fences soon, but he can learn the concept! My next step will be to create mini courses out of poles and teach Wiley how to learn the different courses. Even though I can’t ride the baby dinosaur yet, I can still have tons of fun with him….and bond a little in the process!


Horse Jumping Courses at Liberty

Just wanted to share this old video of my previous partner Tucson. “T” could jump courses of up to 8 fences at liberty….complete with in and outs, rollbacks, and bounces. It only took minutes to teach him a new course too. Sadly, I never got it on video. This is all that  was ever taken….just a quick shot on a friend’s cell phone while I was working “T” one day. I didn’t even bother to set all the jumps. I never dreamed this would be the only video of his most spectacular trick. I have started to teach Wiley liberty jumping. It is a long process. You can bet when Wiley finishes learning it, I will get it on tape!


Training a Horse for Lightness

Lately I’ve been playing around with how light my aids can be with Wiley. Eventually, I’d like to be riding Wiley at liberty…no bridle, no saddle… only minimal aids that “suggest” what he should do. But since he isn’t even old enough to ride, I am just working with some of Wiley’s ground training. I want him to get used to working off of extremely light aids. So, I have Wiley perform every movement without ever touching him.  Even without touching Wiley, I still have expectations of a prompt reaction on his part.  

To get Wiley to move off with absolutely no pressure, I simply slow down my aids. I move toward Wiley very slowly like I am going to touch the point on his body where the aid is. When a horse is trained well, he will start moving long before you ever touch him. As soon as he responds, give him a bridge word/click and a reward. He will start responding sooner each time. Horses are smart. They can predict what you are about to do. Play with it long enough, and you may just get a horse that will perform a movement with the smallest of aids. My previous equine partner Tucson could shake his head yes and no to answer questions just by a slight movement in my finger. Not only was it a pretty cool trick, it freaked more than a few people out when they couldn’t understand how a horse could accurately respond to their questions! 

In the video, I string together a bunch of movements from Wiley’s basic ground training. He spins on his haunches, spins on his forehand, side passes, backs, Spanish walk, backs again and walks to me on command. Watch him perform each one without me having to touch him. His response is, for the most part, pretty prompt (he is only 2 1/2, so my expectations aren’t too high). He is also learning how to handle a series of requests that come fairly quickly. All of this work will eventually translate nicely into under saddle, so it is time well invested. 


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