Just the other day I was commenting that I want to teach Bugs the “fun” behaviors that Mint knows. I have been focused on his under saddle work and want to balance out our time together. Then Mandy sent me a question asking how I teach the “back up” that Mint demonstrates in his videos. What perfect timing!
When I take my horses for expos, demos or clinics the “back up” is a real crowd pleaser. I think it is fun because it highlights the horses involvement in the training and the enthusiastic mindset that comes with the use of positive reinforcement.
I have heard plenty of people comment on how special my horses are, but truth be told, they were not special on the outset of their training. They were just ordinary horses. Actually MInt was the worst horse I had ever worked. He quit at EVERYTHING in the early days and Bugs was a highly suspicious rescue, who routinly pulled back out of habit. But through On Target Training, they have both developed heart.
When horses learn how to make good choices, they continue with this habit in just about everything they do. I find that the more they learn, the quicker they are to embrace new things and the more confident they become. It creates a positive cycle. It also strenghtens our relationship. Since there is no time like the present, let’s get on with the “back up”.
In this session I ask Mint to demonstrate the finished behavior. We then move on to getting started with Bugs (we are getting David started as well) David is a good friend and my cameraman. He will increasingly be called to help with sessions because he is ever-present, and always willing. To call him a horseman at this point though, would be pushing it. Someday, maybe! David had some hesitancy and this seemed to contribute to Bugs hesitancy. By reinforcing Bugs movement I could build up his confidence. Remember, attitude and effort are the most important elements of every session. So okay, go ahead and watch the session and please let me know if you have any questions. Oh, and Mandy, when you start sessions I sure hope that you share updates and thoughts as you go along.