Oops! Never forget the basic rule of liberty jump training….

There is a right way to liberty jump train and a wrong way. You would think after 30+ years of training, that I wouldn’t miss the #1 fundamental rule in liberty training.

I took Kelsey and pony off site for some jump training, but pony was a little too spooky for her. So lacking all necessary lunging equipment, I decided on an impromptu liberty jump training session. Pony is pretty new to liberty jump training, but he really loves it. I thought it would be the perfect way to get his extra energy out, and it definitely was!

I found 3 out of 4 of the basic “issues”, but judging by the video, finding the unknown last “issue” was the key!

Rain and mud can only mean one thing….

That’s right. It is time for trick training!  

Pony is the perfect size and personality for training tricks. He is like a giant, mellow puppy dog with hooves. He loves the training too. Not much energy expended. Lots of treats. Yeah, that is the perfect formula for pony!

It took only 20 minutes spread over 2 days to teach pony to stand on his hind legs and shape it into something that looks a little hi-ho silver-ish. I think he likes to try and look fierce. It is the exact opposite of his personality. 

I won’t put this move on Dino for a few years. I need to be relatively certain I can put the trick on stimulus control quickly.  Let’s just say Dino might not be there yet, but he is only 3 and still super playful. Dino got to work on his more practical “tricks” like haunches in and side pass. 

Don’t waste those muddy days on hand walking. Trick training is much more fun for the horse and the human!

Dino’s Soccer Adventures

There is more than 1 soccer star in the family! Dino has learned to dribble and pass the soccer ball. He knows the goal is to get the ball back to me, but like any soccer star, Dino likes to hog the ball. Sometimes he will dribble for a bit before he passes the ball.

Dino is also only 3 years old in this video and can still lose focus. My favorite clip is when Dino gets distracted and looks away, then looks back at me. Suddenly he remembers we are playing soccer and runs to the ball. Typical 3 year old….Too cute!

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!


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