The Feel and Timing Test

Now that you have had a whole week to practice what we discussed in the last post, I have developed a little test you can take to see if you have made progress. Take the quiz below!

This is set up like a ‘create-your-own’ story. Read the paragraph below and the one titled (1). You are presented with two options at the end of that sentence. Choose which you would take, and then go to the paragraph indicated.

Your little mare, Jazzy, has no ground manners. As soon as you place the halter over her nose and buckle it up, she doesn’t seem to know what to do with herself! You were planning to do a training session with her today on leading. You just need to get her into the arena…

(1) You just got the halter on, and Jazzy begins moving forward. Do you apply pressure now to ask her to halt (2), or go with her (3)?

(2) Applying pressure to Jazzy immediately, you discover that she does not understand your cue and continues to run forward. Do you continue applying pressure (4), escalate the pressure (5), or release the pressure and try to direct her towards the fence so that she stops (6)?

(3) Walking alongside Jazzy, who swerves wildly from left to right, you try to steer her towards a fence so that she will stop. Go to (6).

(4) Being careful not to escalate pressure, you wait for Jazzy. She is still showing no signs of obeying you. Go to (6).

(5) You notice that Jazzy is beginning to brace into the restriction you have put on her. This could lead to habituation to pressure, something you do not want! You begin to escalate the backwards lead rein pressure. You also say a deep, long ‘Whoa,’ and adjust your body position to inhibit her movement. Jazzy lifts one leg and holds it for a moment before continuing to do what she was before. Do you release pressure immediately when Jazzy tries (7), or continue to wait for a larger response (8)?

(6) Having reached the fence, Jazzy stops and puts her head over it, trying to reach the grass on the other side. You pull on her, trying to get her to move away from the fence a little so you can get her through the gate and into the arena for your training session. She does not move, but braces against you. Do you continue the pressure (8) or choose to escalate it and turn this situation into a training opportunity as well (5)?

(7) Recognizing a tiny try in Jazzy’s behaviour, you release all pressure. She continues what she was doing. Do you reapply the pressure to repeat the lesson (9), or try to get out of that gate and into the arena as fast as you can before she starts running away again (8)?

(8) You will be waiting forever! Your timing in the creation pressure is alright, but your release timing is a little slow. Likely this is because you cannot feel (or notice) when the horse gives a try. With a horse like Jazzy who knows nothing about leading, rewarding the tiniest try and then building it up into a complete response is the way to get obedience.

(9) Never mind the arena—why not train the horse where you are when there is an opportunity? Good for you! You were able to recognize what stage Jazzy was at mentally and physically (feel) and meet her there with encouraging pressure and release (timing). Keep practicing, and Jazzy will obey you in no time. The optimal number of repetitions of a lesson is three improved tries in a row. You’ve got one—try again to help her consolidate the lesson.

I hope you have enjoyed this fun test. Now it’s time to go and practice some more!

The Horsegentler


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