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'm having trouble believing that Jack is the same horse that I began clicker with just a few months ago. Until very recently he was still going into the school looking around a bit suspiciously, in case monsters were lurking, even though he very quickly started to concentrate on his work, and then enjoyed himself so much that he didn't want to leave.

The last few days he has been just like Bella - going into the school with ALL his attention on me, and on trying to impress me with a bit of shoulder in, etc. anything that might earn some treats. I think a UFO could have landed in there and he would hardly notice. The idea of him spooking is laughable at the moment, despite all the wind we've had recently. Anyone who doubts that 'Riding With The Clicker' creates a distraction free horse should come and see him, except that they would never believe how he used to be.

Bella is threatening to become the biggest moving Dales ever! She has got the message that a big trot is beautiful and is now asking me how big I can handle! For once I wish that I did have someone else to ride her, because I am dying to see if it looks as fantastic as it feels. Her sire had a very impressive trot in harness (springing along from one diagonal to the other with an almost passage-like quality to the trot) and I have always dreamed of Bella and Jack being able to trot like that (but never believed that they would). Now I think that Bella might surpass him! She has me in fits of laughter and handing out treats like there's no tomorrow, so of course she can't get enough of it! Sitting it is getting very challenging though! She powers out of the transition so much that I have to try and start before her, just to keep up!!!

I can't believe how much all the lateral work is suppling her up either (and how much lateral bending enhances longitudinal bending). She now goes from one movement to another with such ease and we have started to do a bit in trot. I discovered today how to swing my seat sideways and forwards a bit more, much to her relief! I was finding it hard to keep the swing of the trot and apply aids for sideways, but now she just follows my seat and I don't need much leg at all, which makes it much easier not to just deaden the trot. To start with she thought that I wanted her to come back to a walk each time we started to go sideways, because I lost the rhythm of the trot each time myself.

Once again Jack has much to thank her for; for teaching me before I try with him!!!

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