May 21, 2011
I got Jackson out and worked with him on liberty stuff for about 30 minutes. I wanted to work on a couple of specific things. I wanted to work on training Jackson to do the “waltz” or “humming top”. Just for Jackson to spin around, in place, at liberty. I had worked on this off and on (mostly off) over the last three years, but never got anything close to what I wanted.
I started out in the round pen with Jackson loose. I only worked on him spinning to my left, his right. I used the endostick to ask for him to move his shoulder away from me. When he did, I would click and reward him. At first, it was only a step or two, then we got a few more steps.
The hardest part for Jackson was turning all the way, until he had to start coming back. I used the round pen wall to help with that. After a few times, Jackson got it. I used the word spin, pointed the stick toward him, and, if I needed to, tapped him on a certain spot on his neck/shoulder. He got good at turning all the way and then coming to me.
Then I needed him to come back toward me faster than he was; he was just circling back and not stepping around with his shoulder. I had to experiment with this. I put the halter and lead rope on him and with just a couple minutes work, got him kind of jumping to his right with just “hup”. Then I asked him to do the “waltz” again. Once he switched eyes, I stepped back, swung my stick, and said “hup!” and he kind of jumped around toward me! Success! He got lots of grain for that.
The biggest news was that we got our first steps of the piaffe today, totally at liberty! That has been my end goal for a long time! He did it while coming toward him. So fun! Can’t wait to perfect that one!