This is the story of my quest to train my three Dales Ponies for classical dressage, primarily by using Alexandra Kurland's clicker training methods, with a touch of others such as Philippe Karl and Anja Beran thrown in. I turned to clicker training because I had come up against some issues that I didn't know how to fix and because I wanted to inspire them to become enthusiatic partners. Bella and Jack are all my own work and have never been ridden by anyone else.

Bella, Grace and Jack

Bella aged 6

Bella aged 6

Treat Delivery

Jack aged 7


Monday, 10 November 2008

I said yesterday that I couldn't understand why shoulder in had transfered over from in hand but the other movements hadn't. I thought about exactly what I was doing when I was working them both in hand today. When we do shoulder in, my shoulders mirror the horse's shoulders and my legs their hind legs, so when I get on my body just does the same as in hand and it works.

When we do the other lateral movements, in hand and especially at liberty, my legs mirror their front legs and one of my arms guides the hindquarters (I don't use a whip, and in hand the bit usually lies idle). Then I get on and my legs are still being their front legs, so I can control their shoulders to the n'th degree, but there's nothing further back that I can power the engine with. Unless I get on facing backwards the in hand work (the way that I'm doing it anyway) can't teach my body what to do when riding those movements.

We are now at the ridiculous state of affairs where we can do walk pirouettes really easily but struggle with turn on the forehand! I can move their shoulders to line up with their hindquarters with ease, but the other way around is really hard.

So I am now doing ridden the exact reverse of how I began in hand. The solution may partly lie in the way we have moved the hindquarters in 'The Click That Teaches' - thinking as though I am looking back at their hind legs, and partly in me thinking of my legs talking more to their hind legs and less to their front legs when going sideways (and I still need to sit down and up more, but that is improving). I don't know if all that makes any sense at all, but I know what I mean! Cheesy

I have started reading James Shaw's 'Ride From Within'. I'm sure that it's going to be very useful but it's a bit 'airy fairy' for me to be honest, and I'm struggling to concentrate. I WILL PERSEVERE!!!

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I am a clicker training addict and there is no cure - thank goodness!!!