teaching release to lateral pressure

Okay one reason I wanted a young horse is because these blank slates are teaching me a lot. For example, with a horse that has already learned to turn all I need to do is teach the horse to lighten to my request. However, with a horse who has never learned to turn by rein pressure, how do you teach it!?

Fascinating huh?

Well, when I put Z in the sidepull earlier this week and started playing with slight pressure on the reins, she obviously knew that if I was on the inside, that turn to the inside was so easy for her. She had already learned that with our free lunge and lunging work.

When I connected the reins to both sides, and was on the near side, giving off rein pressure (outside rein), she was totally confused and just backed up. Interesting. Hm….

Today, after our liberty work, I put back on the reins. These have scissor snaps on each end, so I started with the rein on the near side only and holding the rest in my hands like a lunge line. Now as I will write later, I am not into a horse bending at a stop (I’ll post later why). I want Z to learn to turn while walking.

A little pressure and she easily turned. After a few turns this way, reinforced with the clicker (why I use a clicker as it shapes behavior very quickly and reinforces to the horse specifically what I wanted her to do), I switched sides. The off side (her right) is very hard for her, though as long as I was also on that side, she picked up quickly to bend to extremely light rein pressure.

Then I connected the scissor snaps on both sides of the headstall, standing at her shoulder, I gave off-rein pressure with my hands at her withers. She was confused at first, and again backed up. However, after a few moments she gave me the off bend, and I clicked and treated.

I kept this session short. Learning turns would be easier if I had a helper which I will this weekend as then I can use a combination of target touching with the pressure, as well as moving on to driving.

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