Originally Posted by Five Furlongs
1. When I am doing the hula hoop game, if I ask my mare to come into me she will once I tighten up the lead rope. When she get there she always turns her head to the side and it seems like she is trying to avoid me. This happens in other exercises too. I don't know if this is important or not so I figured I'd find out:)
2. We are currently up to the backing exercises. She will back up in all the exercises but NEVER with energy. She will let me run the stick into her a bunch of times and just keep barley going. What should I do when she doesn't give me energy in her backing??
Thanks so much for your help. It is greatly appreciated.
The purpose of all groundwork is to get the horse thinking ON you. To get his mind with you and available to you, and optiminally, available in a willing way.
Horse , just like people, can go throught the motions of the "games" or excersizes, without having much mental connection to the handler. They learn the steps to do, and then do them and they get a release. But they are often not mentally really present and there is no real willingness in their compliance. This is the problem with focussin on completeing a game, rather than focussing on the horse and whether or not they are giving you their attention, and how they feel about these games.
Your horse not looking at you to me means that she is still focussed outward, outside of the round pen or whereever you are. It is also possible that you are too close right in front of her, which some horses really don't like.
If you dont' have a round pen to do work at liberty, then when she is on the line and her attention wanders far away do something, (anything, such as scuffling the ground with your boot, tapping your boot with a crop, wiggling the line, etc.) that will interupt that outward facing thought. When she stops looking away, see if she will choose to look at you. If she looks away, interupt that thought. Once you interupt it, let her choose where to look, hoping it will be you. You are not forcing her to look at you, but if she chooosing something else, then you interupt it and give her another chance to choose.
When she looks at you, walk up and pet her nose, ONCE , and then walk awy and give her a break. Or if you are doing the yo yo thingy, get her to take ONE step toward you , then pet her and leave off.
As for backing, she is backing without energy because she sees no reason to expend any more than that. You will have to raise your expectations. If she KNOWs that a wiggle of the line means back up, then you can have higher expectations. Ask, Tell, DEMAND! And get a good , free back up. Watch her feet to see if she picks them up and places them backward as opposed to dragging them backward. If she throws her head up and backs, who cares. It doesn't matter. What you want first is willing backing. Once she is more respectful of your back request, then you may returen to asking lightly and maybe she will back prettier.
But get her to free up her feet and MOVE. However, always ask nicely first, right/?