I’m dealing with a certain issue with Z that I want to change. When she comes down from a walk to a halt, or trot to a walk, she raises her head and inverts her back. Obviously this isn’t desirable for developing good movement. I would rather she step under herself and stop in balance.
My Great Plan last week was to use husband in front of Z with the Target Stick. I would be behind using the driving reins. When I would ask for a halt from a walk she would touch the target and keep her head lower. This would receive a click and a food reward.
I’ve seen this done a million times.
I’ve done it with other horses.
It didn’t work with Z.
Why? Because she is a dominant horse.
Husband is in front of her. When he moves, she follows. This seems more like a chasing and herding game, an aggressive act. Exactly what she does with pony in the pasture. However, it starts to frustrate her that I can control her behavior from behind. I prevent her from capturing her prize!
Increased frustration means an increase in her desire to be aggressive.
She started to balk and then toss her head violently side to side before turning sharply to the left and, was about to start kicking, when I gave her a swat on the butt to move forward and told husband to retreat to the porch. As soon as her prey was gone, she acted like her normal self and work proceeded without any more strange behavior on her part.
When people give me advice about Z, I need to put it through a strong filter. She doesn’t think like your average, well trained, well behaved lesson horse who most riders have the majority of their contact with. She has a predator-boss attitude instead and playing “games” that, in her mind, seem to be hunting, herding, and dominating is simply and often a very bad idea.
Back to the drawing board.