Trail/Obstacle Help

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Apr 3, 2014
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Hello everyone!

My filly will walk over poles pretty well, we are still practicing and learning, but trotting over them is a different matter. She prefers to hop, or semi jump them. I tried slowing down a little last night when we were practicing, but it did not seem to help much. I know practice, practice practice as we are both still learning will also help as well!

Any suggestions?

Also our next maneuver to learn is the sidepass, how do I begin to teach her that?

And last but not least our pivot needs some help, I think most of that is operator error........ what are some things you guys use as far as body position and cues? She is much better at moving her shoulder away from me versus her hip. She does not want to move her hip at all... but that is another story........

Thank you in advance!!
I would just let her keep on trotting over them and just lounge her over the poles and just make sure they aren't too big. She will eventually understand that it will be easier to trot over them then jumping them.

To get a good side pass she should really get a good grasp on pivioting her hind and fore quarters. Cause I teach mine to side pass but placing them in front of a wall or fence and ask to move her forequarters, then her hind quarters to eventually she will go with ease.
Trotting instead of hopping... hmmmm, I've never actually had that problem. How big are the poles? When I use wood fence posts my boys tend to pick their feet up way higher than when I use a pvc poles. Maybe start with a smaller pole? Let me think on that one a little more! Hopefully someone else here will have better ideas.

I will fill you in on what I do. Everyone has their own methods, and you need to be comfortable with whatever you do. The only thing that is the same across the board no matter the method is this: Be consistent!

When teaching the pivot, I worn on using one cue with slowly increasing pressure until I get a step in the right direction, then stop and praise while they think it over. All I ask for is a step. Once they are doing one step ever time, ask for two... three.... etc. In the beginning she will probably try to move forward or backwards, but be consistent and stop immediately after you get the desired response. It usually doesn't take long for them to figure it out and you're doing 3 steps, then 4, then a 180. I work on this in 2 different ways (cues) separately, using the same theory of giving them a chance before putting on a little more pressure. My 2 versions/cues are: 1) Touch. Start by touching the shoulder, push on shoulder, push harder, push as hard as I can. 2) Drive/wave. Rhythmically swing hand toward shoulder, lightly touch using the same rhythm, tap using same rhythm, smack using same rhythm. When she gets the idea, you will be able to cue her with minimal effort. I feel it's important for my horses to know that they need to move when I'm touching them, but also without. Keep in mind, you'll have to use the same cue every time, but will also need to make sure she understands that not every time you touch her means "get over". I do the same methods with the hip. A lot of rubbing & petting in between and right after she does a good job will insure that she isn't over-reactive to your cues.

I personally don't start working on sidepass until I can move both the shoulder & the hip independently with minimal effort, like a look and a thought. Once she is doing both well, you can as her to move her entire body by putting her nose to a fence or barn wall & stand facing her side. In the starting stages, I ask for one step with the shoulders, one with the hip, then stop. Then ask again. Like above, it won't take long. Don't be surprised if she tried to turn her shoulders away and turn her rear to you or else fly backwards. Just keep your body still, wait for her to get her nose back to the barrier & ask until you get a step in the right directions, then stop & let her think. Zig-zag her like that a bit, then once she's doing well, you can start introducing your touch or drive cue to her mid section. Patience & consistency.

Once again, this is what I do, you will figure out what works best for you. Best of luck, keep us posted!
Thank you both for the advice! We had a pretty good session last night! She even moved her hips away from me a few times, with just a click and a step forward! I did actually lunge her over a few poles for a bit, and she does great than looses focus and has to remember to lift her feet, than decides to jump them, then will trot over. I think she will get it the longer we practice. I think I will try putting more of them in a row and see what happens.

The poles are not huge, standard trail size, maybe 4-5 inch diameter? They are the same size that the show association uses, where we show.

Thanks for the sidepass tips! Hopefully there is not a sidepass in the trail pattern this Saturday!!!!!
Oh well we will just do our best and have fun!

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