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


Saturday, 22 November 2008

It was very cold and windy here today with a lot of shooting nearby and even Bella was quite jumpy in the school to begin with. For some reason the old saying came to my mind - you should tell a gelding, ask a mare and discuss it with a stallion. I thought how it is completely the other way around with my three. Bella and Grace take comfort and confidence from my being calmly but insistently assertive when they are feeling a bit nervous, whereas with Jack it has always been the case that the more nervous he is, the more I have to make sure that he knows that I AM discussing it with him, and not trying to make him do anything.

I have never known a horse try as hard as he does now to stay calm and steadfast. Yesterday, just as we halted, he jumped very slightly at something, then hopped backwards again, as if to say "whoops, didn't mean to do that, just pretend it never happened". Needless to say he got a jackpot for that!

However, watching the single rein riding on the DVDs has reminded me that I never did that much of it with Jack, and although I have done quite a bit of taking a contact on the inside rein and very carefully insisting that he softens first, before I do, in-hand, I still tend to give him the reins when he gets nervous when I'm riding him.

I really need him to get more like Bella and Grace in this respect, so that he gets into the habit of softening and listening to me no matter what, so I know that he will when it matters. The new DVDs are brilliant for demonstrating the mechanics of single rein riding in great detail, so that's what I now need to concentrate on with Jack, until I can 'tell' him when I need to, regardless of what is going on around us.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Helen you are luring me away from my blog but also from my training ideas.
    Throught your writing I can see the interest to ride with CT.

    I like that the primal reward is the release of pressure, then you reinforce with CT.

    Super you have summed up what I want to do in the future ^-^
    Yesterday I was watching a Parelli level 3 course, I could not help thinking that with CT the horses would get it faster.

    You are a BAAAAAAAAAADDDDDDDDD influence on me LOL


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