Make sure the view the video of Lamark learning his change of direction at the bottom of the page.
“Lamarck is the offspring of one of my earliest lines, in fact, the first Trakehner mare I bought for breeding, making this the 6th or 7th generation along the dam line. I picked Donaufurst to breed to Lalik and the got the very lovely Lalique; a powerful mover with the sweetest disposition. I then bred her to Platinum von Rappenhof “Pb”, feeling the two were very well suited to continue the athletic qualities that have always been present in that wonderful mare line. Lamarck did not disappoint. He has super gaits, lots of confidence and plenty of power to do anything in any sports field, so no decision has been made for his future. This line is pretty brave, full of humor and will keep Micaela on her toes as they progress!”
– Jean Brinkman, Owner of Valhalla Farm
As I mentioned in Dashing’s latest update, I am introducing all of the babies to several new things this week. My hope is to develop confident athletes who are prepared for anything and able to think their way through new and sometimes scary situations.
1) The spray bottle: I have one filled with water and have been practicing the horse’s confidently accepting being sprayed each day.
2) The flag: This is simply a plastic bag tied to the end of my stick. Gaining the horse’s acceptance of this will not only subdue everyone’s fear of the dreaded plastic bag floating in the wind, but also build the horse’s trust in the hands that hold it.
3) Clippers: I have a hand held massager that I found at CVS. This little pack is easy to hold and creates the perfect simulation for clipping. As I bring the horses in each day this has become part of our grooming routine; focusing on the ears, chin and behind the poll. These are the places people often get stuck and even end up having to twitch or sedate horses to reach.
All of these items fall under the umbrella of the friendly game! They are all intended to build the horse’s confidence and prepare them for their futures.
Lamarck’s First Saddling
Day 6: I warmed up Lamarck in the indoor arena with our seven games routine on the 22’ line and re-visited the canter cue on-line*.
*It may seem like I am progressing to the longer line quickly, and I am! The only thing that limits the ability to utilize longer ropes is the human’s skill set. Thanks to many hours of tripping entanglement, I have become pretty handy with both the 22′ and 45′ lines and for this, I am eternally thankful. Having the freedom to go to a longer line can be so beneficial for the horse and help both horse and human progress together without feeling restricted.
We then went into the round pen and had our first saddling together! He was super for the saddling. I was not surprised because of how much prep we have done with laying both myself and the saddle pad over his back. Once he was saddled and the cinch secured, I sent him off at liberty (no rope attached). He walked for a while, adjusting to the feeling of the front and back cinch. We picked up the trot, all good. Once he began cantering he got tight and right-brained (fearful,worried,prey animal instincts, flight mode) for about a ¼ of a circle. As Lamarck was imitating a bronco from the wild west, I gently encouraged him forward by applying pressure behind the drive line and he snapped out of it within a few strides. When he found rhythm and relaxation at the canter, I brought him in to soak in the process; he licked, chewed and yawned for a good three minutes.
When I sent him off in the other direction, the walk, trot and canter were not an issue. THIS IS THE TIME TO QUIT! Remember to keep it short, sweet and successful. I brought him in, let him process for a few moments and unsaddled him. Then, we both hung out in the round pen while I massaged his back and girth area as he processed.
These little acts of consideration help develop the horse’s understanding that we are their partner and provider, not a predator!
Day 7: We started in the arena with the flag and Lamarck was a bit apprehensive at first, but quickly came to rest as I shook the bag rhythmically all around him. Once we got through all seven games, we went to the round pen for our second saddling. There were zero issues and Lamarck committed to standing even more still than yesterday as I saddling him. This is great feedback that tells me our last session was a success!
Lamarck showed lovely relaxation at the walk, trot and canter in each direction, and he even executed the change of direction to the inside, perfectly from each direction; with that, I decided to get on. He was REALLY good as I mounted him, so I got off. Remember, the big secret in horse training is, “It is the pressure that motivates and the release that teaches.” With that said, me getting on him in the saddle for the first time is clearly pressure. Since he was so good, me dismounting at this time will reinforce for him that it is no big deal and staying relaxed is the choice that gets the reward.
Day 8: Third saddling. I mounted, walked off and added the trot in the round pen. Lamarck was a little tight with the lateral flexion to the right, but other than that, I was very happy with this session.
Day 9: Fourth saddling. Today Lamarck felt very, mentally connected! He maintained the halt the best for saddling today, by far, and he was great with changes of direction. No thoughts of turning to the outside! After he did two perfect changes, he looked at me and asked to come in as if he knew he earned it. I love seeing that he knows when he does it right now.
Once I mounted, we did our pre-flight checks (lateral flexion, indirect rein & direct rein). He was tight on the lateral flexion to the right again, so we took some extra time to “rinse and repeat” the bend. After the third one he blew out, licked and chewed. I revisited our walk and trot while following the rail and we even did a few strides of canter in each direction! For our next session, I will enlist some support on the ground to get more fluid canter transitions.
Day 10: Anna, helped us with the trot to canter transitions under saddle. He was SO CUTE as he would turn and face Anna when he knew he did something well. He did not pick up the correct leads each time, but I will get more particular with that as we go on. The most important thing is that he stayed calm, connected, responsive and FORWARD.
In the previous update on Lamarck, I discussed our introduction of the change of direction at liberty. Below is the video our first session on this, make sure to take a look to see the training techniques in motion!
As always, please feel free to leave any comments or questions. Thanks for reading!
Really enjoyed seeing the real time video for learning change of direction. Short, sweet and successful will be in my brain now. Thank you for sharing your journey!!
Great to hear Vicki, glad you are a part of it!
Love to read the updates each time 🙂
Glad you’re enjoying it and thank you for reading
Great video that really shows how to get that inside turn. I love how you emphasize the importance of giving the horse plenty of time to think things through. Thank you for sharing all this information with us, Micaela!
How far past your shoulder was he when you picked the straight line or does that matter?
Kathleen, imagine my shoulders were 3:00 o’clock and 9 o’clock. In the video I would initiate the change of direction as his nose hits my left shoulder, (9 o’clock). I hope this helps. Thank you for your question.