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LOL! You have to be old enough to have seen the movie! Laddie needs to go back to the beginning every day.

Laddie and I had our third get-reacquainted session this morning.The novelty of being ridden again after almost no riding for four years has worn off. And we've restarted with the basic version of the basics again. Which suits me fine, because at my age, all I really want to do is take a plod around.

One of Laddie's challenging quirks is that if he is allowed to stop and rest and think about things, he starts to worry. So he starts doing his own little Rumba dance, offering learned behaviors (like forehand turn) or just go forward, or sideways, or something...ANYTHING...without a cue. We'll frequently end up in the opposite direction of where I was aiming for.

So this morning, we started with a gentle in-hand lesson in "yielding to the hand", and he was doing very, very well (especially for a horse that truly had a cast iron jaw). We walked and stopped for several minutes, just setting the mood and practicing stopping, and yielding laterally at the poll. Once mounted, I thought I'd try a few gentle lateral things. Since he tends to step over behind a little too willingly, I thought we'd go for shifting the shoulders over a step.

He knows this, right? But to him, it's better to just offer anything, like haunches over (much easier for him), than a specific move to a specific cue. Begin the Rumba. He'd "get it", and we'd take a moment to chew on it, but he can't stand the "pressure" of just being still, and so has to move. Knowing his history, I feel he is actually trying too hard to be good, in order to avoid the consequences of being "bad". He doesn't seem to readily "get" that there is a safe place in between.

So of course here's me up there, stopping him with the reins when he makes these mistakes, throwing all that delicate "yield to the hand" work out the window. We got turned around so many times, between my cues to take one little step to the right.

I finally did the "nearly impossible thing for humans to do" and quit correcting his mistakes. He was not doing anything dangerous, just waffling around offering me ANYTHING without a cue. I just let him. He'd take a few confused steps and when he didn't get any input from me, he just stopped. I let him think, then asked for a step to the right. BOOM! Perfect! I got three beautiful steps to the right from three cues, with no waffling around in between. Of course he got MASSIVE praise after each step!

And then my problem was every time I shifted in the saddle to GET OFF after such a big success, he reckoned that was a cue to DO SOMETHING! LOL! Wiggle wiggle!
When he finally came to a solid stop, I swung my leg over his back as quickly as my uncooperative old body would let me and slid down to the ground. We then had a big mutual admiration session, me scratching withers and Laddie "grooming" my backside! LOL!

In the "old days", not redirecting Laddie when he started pulling stunts caused considerable mischief, so there's "history" that makes it hard for me to let the minor stuff go sometimes. I would TRY to ignore his mistakes, but he would just get into looping opposition behaviors, where he would perform the exact same stunt at the exact same blade of grass, for literally, hours. I had to learn to identify the probable "trigger point" before we got there a second, or perhaps third time, or the repetitive opposition behavior would be locked in. If I could once redirect him when the ears first started to twitch, I could shut the loop down. I am still looking for those behaviors to occur, as they no doubt will if I'm not careful.
 

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@dogpatch: I wish I could join you and just plod along, too. It's my favorite gait and our boy's is whoa.

I hope to be getting back to riding in a month or less. Due to 'life' happens, I haven't done much of anything with our boy aside from feeding/haying/filling water buckets/changing fly masks since mid-November. I have during this time still set my expectations that if I want him to move a hip, or back up with my verbal cue, or stay out of his stall until dinner's-on-the-table, etc. He's been appropriately responsive. We'll definitely be revisiting some basics, too.

Remind us, how old is Laddie?
 
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