The Art of Natural Dressage

Working with the Horse's Initiative
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 12, 2015 4:03 pm 

Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2015 12:49 am
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Hello all 8) I am now doing exercises with my Belgian/paint horse Lizzie to prepare her for being ridden, things that will teach her to move forward and such on the ground and when I'm on her. She is no stranger to being mounted though, I have sat on her many times since she was three.
I have never before started a horse, so I wanted to ask for some advice. I really don't have anyone experienced to help me in my remote little area. Everyone around where I live is really into dominance, hitting, punishment, etc. and I really don't want that to be Lizzie's start.
I am currently getting her to move in circles around me in both directions. She absolutely loves learning new things and always stares after me when I leave the pasture, which is both sad (because then I don't want to leave) and pleasing (because at least I am not entirely boring :funny: ) She is a joy to work with and I love her enthusiasm :applause:
I am going to get into ground driving her again, though I was wondering if it would be better to teach her to ground drive from behind or from back and beside her, how best to teach her to turn while continuing to move forward, and what other exercises would be good for me to do with her.

edit: I should also mention, I do not stand passively when I ask Lizzie to circle. I move with in an even smaller circle and then stop when she is to stop.

PostPosted: Mon Oct 12, 2015 4:57 pm 
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Joined: Fri Aug 31, 2007 8:20 am
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Location: Dresden, Germany
Here are some threads about this:

How to start?
Preparing a horse for riding
Learning to ride... Speedy

...and I am sure you will find many more ideas in the Riding section of this forum.

When I start riding, I prefer to do this while we are on a walk in the forest - in an area that the horse knows well (and of course only if we have gone for many, many walks before). I think that being outside makes it easier for the horse not to focus on the riding too much, because it has something to do and a path to go, so we needn't worry about directions and all the other difficult things at first. The only cue that we work on right from the start is halt (which gets rewarded massively), and other than that I am more like a passenger in the beginning. In that way, carrying a human can become normal for the horse before we combine this with lots of communication.

In terms of preparation for riding, there is not a lot of specific preparation that we do. If the communication is in place from the ground (for us this means for example that we attend to each other's micro movements), then riding is just another exercise - and it works according to the rules that we use for any other exercise: we ask and try very carefully, and as soon as the horse feels the least bit uncomfortable, we stop immediately. My horses know this and I am very attentive in this regard. Therefore, I prefer not to do a lot of planning and prepairing beforehand but am rather quick in just trying to get on - and then down again after a second, up again, and so on, while going with the flow of what my horse seems to be okay with at the moment.

Good luck with Lizzie! :)

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