HIDEAWAY TRAINING TIP
THE GO AHEAD CUE
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Teaching your horse, from the ground, a cue to move
forward can be an invaluable tool in your horses training. It can be used
to teach your horse to cross obstacles like bridges, tarps, water and
even to load into a trailer.
You will need to have your horse in a halter with a
lead rope. You will also need a 36-48 dressage whip or something
similar with which to tap the horses rump. (Thats TAP not beat). Start
by standing at your horses side with your left hand on the lead
about four feet down from the halter and facing the left side of the horse.
Now, holding the whip in your right hand, begin LIGHTLY tapping the horse
on his left hip. If the horse moves forward, stop tapping immediately
and give him some pets and praise so that he knows that he did a good
job. If the horse does not move forward, keep tapping until he does move
a step forward. The tapping will not hurt the horse, but it will be an
irritant that he will want to stop. After a while, he will try something
to get away from the irritation. We want him to move forward. It is very
important to stop tapping immediately as you horse begins forward movement
so that he understands that is what gets him relief from the tapping.
It is equally important that you keep tapping until he gives a forward
movement. Otherwise, if you stop before he moves, the lesson he learns
is that if he stays still, you will eventually stop tapping.. Repeat
this exercise until your horse consistently moves forward when you initiate
a tap on the rump. If you teach the lesson well, the horse will begin
to move forward even before the tap. Just raising the whip will be enough
to get him moving forward.
Okay, your horse goes on cue. How do we
use this in training???? Lets take an example of crossing a
small bridge. Lets lead our horse toward the bridge and when we feel that
he is beginning to tense and will stop, we stop him first. Now let him
stand there and look at the bridge and relax for a moment. We want to
keep our horse from getting too excited. If he starts getting worked up,
we are pushing too hard. We must let him know that everything is okay
and he can trust us. We he looks relaxed standing and looking at the bridge,
we begin tapping on the rump with the dressage whip. We keep it up until
he gives us any small movement forward and we immediately stop tapping.
Again, we do not stop until we get forward .movement. As soon as we get
the forward movement, we stop and let him just stand and relax. We
repeat this process until he puts a foot up on the bridge. At first, he
might move a bit forward and begin pawing at the bridge. This is okay.
We let him paw until he stops on his own. Remember, we want to keep him
from getting too upset. When he is relaxed again, we begin tapping again
until he takes a step onto the bridge. If he takes a step on the bridge
and then immediately steps back, this is okay. We want him to know that
he will not be trapped there and he can get off if he has to.
Now we repeat the process, moving the horse further
and further onto the bridge until eventually he is all the way on the
bridge. Then we just let him stand there for a moment and relax. Remember
that anytime that he wants to back off the bridge, that is okay and have
confidence that he is not trapped on the bridge. Next, we back him off
the bridge and away a few feet and re-approach the bridge. If he hesitates
or stops, we resume the lesson. If he walks up onto the bridge, we stop
him and praise him and then walk him further on the bridge and off the
other side. We repeat crossing the bridge until it is second nature and
the horse exhibits no anxiety at all.
We cant stress enough how important it is to
keep the horse calm. Getting him all worked up will be counterproductive
and only serve to drag out the time it will take for him to achieve the
goals of the lesson. If the horse is getting upset, we are going too fast.As
we noted above, this cue can be used for a variety of lessons with our
horses. Crossing obstacles, crossing water, trailer loading, etc. Good
luck with your training and remember to be good to your horse. Lots of
praise will help reinforce the lesson he is learning. Be consistent and
the horse will be consistent. Most of all, have fun with your horse.