Saturday, June 7, 2014

trail-in-hand practice

New goal for shows: Place in all trail-in-hand classes. 

We earned a second place in the first show. I left that class feeling so good about our performance. So I went back and thought what was different about that class than every other trail-in-hand class that we have done.

Answer: I took my time with each obstacle. I didn't rush through them. Without the rushing, my anxiety didn't transfer to Shyloh, which makes her anxious and not want to do an obstacle, which makes me frustrated because I know she can do it. 

So I took my time. I stopped in front of most obstacles (unless we had to trot to and through them) and then asked Shy to proceed. And it worked!

Our goal lately has been sidepassing.Shy is great in one direction and terrible in the other. I finally 4-wheeled out back to grab the poles so we could get to work. I also grabbed my clicker. 

We started out and this is how it went:
Me: Over (to the right).
Shy: Okay (perfectly steps over and over to the end of the pole). (click and treat)
Me: Let's try the other direction.
Shy: Um, rush forward?
Me: No, over.
Shy: Go backwards?
Me: No, over.
Shy: My legs are getting twisted! This is hard!
Me: Let's do one leg at a time. Back first, then front. (click and treat)
Shy: Okay. I think I'm getting it. But I don't like it. It feels unnatural.
Me: Good job (click and treat).
Shy: Yay, I'm awesome (smiles).
Me: Let's try facing the other way, but going left again.
Shy: No, lets go right. Look at me go! I can go right. All day long. All the way around the round pen. Even without the poles. 

And she really did sidepass right halfway around the round pen. Brat. But we kept working on it and Shy got it. I love to see when she finally "get" something. You can see it in her. It's very cool. She is a very fun horse to work with.

Jaime suggested using a directional cue that can translate to the saddle. That was a smart idea that I implemented right away. 

We also worked on backing straight and backing and turning, since that is often in trail classes. Shy is getting better and better each time we practice! Look at her now!


  1. When I'm about to go out on a jump course my trainer always tells me to "take your time." It is the last piece of advice she always gives me right before I go in the ring. It's just like you said when you slow down and think about taking things nice and easy, just as they come your anxiety levels also slow down. Great job!

    1. Slow down and take your time is the best advice ever! It really works!

  2. Sounds like you have to do some of the exercises we have to do for Equifeel. We have side passing and backing up and backing up on a curve too. It's a lot of fun learning this stuff!

  3. I'm glad you mentioned you were clicker training for this, I am interested in other applications. I feel like Connor and Shy are very similar in how they mentally approach some things.

    1. I try to do a lot of clicker training for this kind of stuff. I'd like to start it in the saddle, but that requires more coordination than I have now and It's hard to get my hand to treat her from the saddle.

    2. Could be a pony thing, too :) Gotta love them!


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