Since PJ did so well with the targeting today on the ground, I decided to go right to the behavior I wanted: go under saddle. Yesterday’s lesson taught me one very important thing: it’s not just your legs that make the horse go, your seat has to be involved.
So my cue for go was close leg and nudge with my seat at the same time. No more. No less. I walked PJ into the middle of the ring and then stopped. Then I closed my leg and nudged with my seat. He walked off. I clicked and gave him some pellets.
I started off asking him to walk off multiple times in a row – each time clicking, stopping, and treating. But there wasn’t much motivation for him that way because the treats just kept coming and he couldn’t swallow them fast enough (we were both covered in green slobber by the end). So, I made the time in between me asking him to move off longer. I sat quiet for a minute or two in between and then asked again. If I waited long enough he sometimes decided to walk off on his own. As I felt him shift his weight to take a step, I gave him the aids for walk and let him go a stride longer than I did when I made the request myself, but still clicked and treated. I’m not sure the click and treat was his motivation for walking off on his own. I think it was more boredom or a desire to look out the window, or go out the ring. But maybe it was because he knew a treat was coming. I also used just one leg to get him to move his haunches around (i.e., right leg swing haunches to the left). When he took a real step over, I clicked and treated. He seemed to pick up on that more readily than the go forward game. I quit when I ran out of pellets, which was after about 45 minutes (I had a lot of pellets).
With the target training on the first day I would have rated PJ a 6 out of 10, but then when I started out on the second day, he was clearly an 8 out of 10 from the get go. I’m thinking he needs to take some time to mull this stuff over. I would call it a 4 today, so maybe tomorrow he’ll be a 6 with the go forward game?