Tiny Baby-Steps

Hippach needs baby-steps in his training and he needs a lot of training still. Although I already took baby-steps, it appeared to be not tiny enough. But how do you call baby-steps that are even smaller than baby-steps 😀 ?

I started with Straightness Training. These are beginner groundwork excercises to help him stretch and strenghten his side muscles. And also excercises that help him keep his head in a lowered position (to make him calm and to relax his back muscles). He is a quick learner and he is willing to work so within a short period we started with stepping back and with small circles in hand to teach him to step under his point of mass with his inner hind leg. This way he starts to learn to carry his weight with his hind legs. He is super with these excercises. He learns the vocal commands very quickly and he enjoys the excercises. I use positive reinforcement to teach him in a gentle way. Carrots make him happy!

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This was going so extremely well that I decided to also teach him to give his feet. This is a slower process, but he accepts it and he tries hard to understand.

Unfortunately Hippach has had a wounded hind foot (the part above his hoof) for years now and I want to help him with that. So I wanted to wash his feet, but that was a bridge too far… I took baby-steps and only wetted one hoof in tiny tiny bits but he got scared and the ring he was tied to broke. The funny thing was that he didn’t bolt. He just walked a small circle and came to me when I walked to him. He is curious and he tries hard but sometimes it is just too much too soon. We ended this in a positive way. Someone held him for me and I brought the water back in. This time I just let him sniff it and rewarded his calm curiousity with a carrot. Then I used a little bit of water on one foot. He stayed calm and I rewarded him again. I stopped after I washed his two front feet succesfully.

Hippach feels more relaxed if he can watch what I am doing ❤ (picture by John Burggraaf Photography)

After this event I noticed he tries to get loose when I tie him. I am not happy with that, but I analysed his behaviour, my reactions to his behaviour and the things I want from him in such a short time. By coincidence I read about the Right Brain Introvert in a magazin I bought, one of the Horsenalities Parelli talks about and recognized part of the behaviour Hippach shows. I decided to look into the horsenalities and I now understand Hippach a little bit better. He is mainly a Right Brain Extrovert… That is not an easy type of horse because they don’t always show they have reached a limit. They are willing to work, but at the same time tension builds up easily and all of a sudden they seem to explode, which can make them dangerous. A Right Brain Extrovert needs calmness and baby-steps and also a focussed leader. I now take mini-baby-steps. He doesn’t always show that he is getting tense, but I can see a change in his eye, like a frown. We then take a pause by walking a bit and then I guide him step by step at what we are going to do together, rewarding every tiny baby-step he courageously takes.Merel Burggraaf straightness training classical dressage parelli horsenality-profile


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