Baby Dino Learning Half Pass

Baby Dino is growing up and beginning to learn some big boy dressage movements! Dino is still 3 (4 next month!), and spent most of the year riding-wise just goofing around hacking in a relaxed frame. But, his young age hasn’t stopped us from working on some upper level movements. We just do them in-hand!

The half-pass builds on the very basic lateral movements that baby Dino began learning in-hand as a 2 year old. Dino knows how to perform haunches-in and shoulder-in from my touch. This was then used to build the side pass. When Dino had these movements down, the half pass, was the next logical progression.

Half pass is a forward and sideways movement where the horse is bent in the direction of travel and around your inside leg. Although this sounds similar to the side pass, it is a much more difficult gymnastic for the horse to perform. It is a great exercise to teach in-hand as there is no weight of the rider to influence the horse’s balance. The horse is free to figure it out himself.

Dino picked this up fairly easily at the walk and is progressing to the trot.  He still has his 3 year old moments, but he really does try. You can see his concentration in the pictures below. Gotta Love the Dino!!

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!

 

Transferring Aids – Ground Work to Under Saddle Cues

Wiley has been ridden a total of about 2 hours in his lifetime. In this video, I am beginning the process of transferring some of Wiley’s aids from ground work to under saddle. Wiley is clicker trained, so he is rewarded after each correct effort.

The lateral aids I used on the ground for turn on the forehand and haunches are close to the aids under saddle. With very little ride time, Wiley is already starting to understand these movements. He can delineate between an aid slightly in front of the girth (move the shoulder) from an aid behind the girth (move the haunches). Backing while giving at the poll was just a straight pick up from ground work.

At this point in Wiley’s training, most  cues are very light tactile aids. I can use one finger on the reins or a touch of the stirrup for Wiley to understand what I want. Notice on the backing aids, however, that Wiley makes a big “give” while backing. That is not from pressure. That is from his training to give while backing.  He is just making a big effort here. Wiley can back with one finger on the reins. The one thing Wiley isn’t very good at yet is turning while moving forward. He is just learning to control his body. For now, sometimes he over turns, and sometimes he under turns. Sometimes he doesn’t turn at all and sometimes his body doesn’t follow his nose, and he pops a shoulder out. Since I am not yet using leg aids to control his body while riding (I am working on getting the forward cues solid), I use a dressage whip to touch his shoulder and remind him to keep it in line. Works perfectly. The turning thing just takes time for him to understand just how much turn I want. It will come with experience.

Wiley is also learning to canter. This video is of his third time ever cantering under saddle. Although you can’t hear it because of wind noise, I am using a verbal canter cue to help Wiley understand what I want. When he first transitions to the canter, I reward him so he knows he is doing the right thing. The second time I ask, I let him canter a few circles before the reward. Even though his canter is very smooth and rhythmic, I can tell he is still very unsure of himself. I will keep his catnering very short until he gains confidence and balance.

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!

DelMarHorseGirl

Training Shoulder-In at Liberty

After all of the ground work Wiley has been doing at liberty (turn on the haunches, turn on the forehand, side pass, etc), performing a shoulder in at liberty was straight forward. I took this video on day 2 of his training. I exaggerated the movement so it is easy to see on the video (he is clearly on 4 tracks and bordering on leg yield), and I am still working on controlling lateral movement. The video is a combination of 3 uncut videos, so you can see the work in progress along with some good steps.

To help Wiley understand what I was asking, I used a target for him to follow. Wiley is trained to touch his nose to the target. Since Wiley is already trained to move away from the driving whip, I used it to shape where his hind end needed to go. In essence, his nose follows the target and his hind end stays with the whip.

In a few more months, Wiley will be 3 and I can start lightly riding him. I really want to get all of this foundation training complete so I can transfer it to under saddle work. It makes that stage of training so much easier and less stressful. I can’t wait!

DelMarHorseGirl

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