Lunging seems to be too much like Work

I wanted to start working Dante on a circle following the target but also my plan was to have my lunge whip in my other hand to help him understand that I wanted him to move a little further away from me.

Sometimes he moves too close to me and while some horse folk might think this is cute, it can cause problems, dangerous problems for me. There is a time and place for being physically close but when I’m lunging that is not one of those times.

If he decided to get too rambunctious he could hit me accidentally with a flying hoof (that’s how Grenwinae ended up getting stitches in his eyebrow due to a blow from Z) or if he tripped (which he did going back to the tack room yesterday) he could knock me down.

Of course I had my longer target stick so I could direct him further away, but I wanted him to know that he didn’t have to touch the ball just to lower his head. I’m shaping his DOWN (nose down, tilted forward, reaching) to a LARGE, where he has to move further away from me on the circle and not relying so heavily on the TOUCH the target cue for this traveling head down behavior. BTW, CAP words are my voice commands.


Dante: This looks like lunging, lunging = work, and I’m not into that (stops).

Me: C’mon, just touch the ball like you did before and I’ll give you a click-treat.

Dante: (mulls it over and eventually touches target ball). Okay.

Me: Now lets move over from my whip a little…

Dante: this really, really looks like lunging to me and I don’t like that (walks away).

Me: Okay (stands there, hums a bit, looks away) Remember, I still have snacks.

Dante: (wanders slowly back) maybe if it’s just touching the target I can play.

We go through this several times where he leaves and has to think it over, sulking that it isn’t just walking and trotting, touching a target and getting a treat. The addition of the whip (which he is not afraid of) has made him a bit more suspicious about where all of this is going.

While again it might hurt the tenderhearted, Dante was bought to be a riding horse. I have enough pets, thank you very much. So Ride and Work he will do – and it can become Play if he just will let me convince him!

At one point I walk away and he stares at me, watching me go, takes a few steps, but won’t fully commit. I come back and do some simple targeting with CT and then walk away again. At one point I turn my back thinking we are done and he comes trotting up to me, we play a few more times the simple game of touching target and then I wrap it up.

Looks like he’s going to take some convincing… I know I can do it though! He’s really a big softie.

PS I’ve ordered my vinyl cones so once they are here and I can get my work out arena set up this task will be easier I think for us both. Doing it in the big pasture with little visual aids for him makes it harder for us both to translate concept to practice.

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