Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Chica's Assessment - Smart and Sensitive

When I was working with Chica, one of the horses that has arrived for training this month, I learned that she is a very quick learner and sensitive to cues.

She was very quick to back up from a wiggle to the rope, but when I asked her to do circles she didn't understand the cues. She would stare at me, back up, and pull lightly on the rope - I kept my cue consistent and as soon as she made a step to leave on the circle I rewarded her by completely relaxing my body and taking all pressure off.

It didn't take her long until she was consistently understanding what I wanted, and she moved off of fairly subtle cues. To disengage and move the haunches she was also very easy to move off of pressure.

It is very important for a horse to learn to move away from pressure - this is the entire basis of our communication. We pull back when we want to stop, squeeze to go, push to move them aside, etc. It is also very important for a horse to understand wiggle to back up, because this is how we can move a horse out of our personal space, without having to move ourselves.

Chica is very good at both of these things which means she has an excellent foundation to get started with. Her owner has the goal for her to become a quiet trail and pleasure horse - and I think this is very possible in a reasonable amount of time given her assessment.

Chica's dominance is very low - she didn't challenge me on any cues, and did not try to come into my personal space. I also know from the field that she is the lowest on the pecking order.

Chica's confidence is medium right now - I will have to explore this more in the sessions to come. She looked around a bit in the new ring, but didn't spook or startle around. She also tolerated my barking Corgi.

Chica's sensitivity is medium to high. She moves swiftly and eagerly off of cues, especially air pressure. She is medium when it comes to direct pressure, so we can anticipate she will be medium pressure in the saddle too.

I look forward to getting aboard Chica during our next session. Our first sessions have been to establish trust and basic cues - which she is progressing really well for.

Stay tuned for future Chica updates!

1 comment:

  1. VERY good assessment !! Being that I know Chica's owner as well, I have told her the same thing you wrote...Chica is on the low end of the pecking order, BUT that does not mean that she can't learn and doesn't understand. You have the rare talent of understanding that not every horse learns the same way. Just like us individuals, no two are alike. I am VERY pleased to read your evaluations and also agree on the importance of backing a horse out of your space. I told Chica's owner that a while back, that one of THE most important things you can do, is backing horse anywhere at any time...into small spaces, big spaces, narrow spaces or just down the pasture. You are doing a GREAT job and I look forward to reading more updates on your progress. AWESOME blog, by the way :-) 5 Stars from me :-)