Making Progress

I got to work with Baron 3 days last week, and I was committed to making our time together positive and productive. After our last attempt at a trail ride, I wanted to go back to ground work, so I lunged him in the round pen. This went very well. He immediately began to trot on the lunge and I let him go for a while and then asked him to halt. He is learning to respond to “Whoa” and to my body language. He has gotten much better about this in the short time that I’ve had him. He was so attentive to me during the lunge session that I ended it after only 20 minutes and let him go back to the pasture with his buddies. I’ve read that prolonging a good training session can undo the positive experience. I wanted him to focus on me, let me set the pace, and give me his full attention. Once he did this, I rewarded him by letting him get back to his friends.
I did ride him the next day. I was determined that we were going to have a fun, relaxing ride together. I was not going to get into a tug of war with him again. So this time I took a slightly different route that took him out of sight of the pasture. Without the distraction of his friends, he relaxed, trotted easily when asked, halted when asked and was a dream to ride. Traffic doesn’t bother him, dogs don’t bother him, so in a way, he is pretty advanced. He doesn’t need to be “de-spooked” quite as thoroughly as some horses.
I’m learning that patience and imagination are the keys to re-training. Instead of taking him on the same route as usual and letting the ride degenerate into a tug of war, I took him away from the distractions and essentially put him in a situation where I knew he could succeed. This builds his confidence in himself and in me as the leader. We had a great ride this week. Every good ride or good training session is another brick in a solid foundation.

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