Reclaiming Andi - day five addition

A fellow trainer called me on a point I mentioned earlier, and rightfully so. I made a simple comment - that I was willing to wait and let her come to me, that I was letting her make the decisions as to how much of what I wanted she was going to do, that I was passive and letting her decide if she wanted me in her comfort zone.

I want to emphasis that this is part of step one. I don't ask for trust and submission without a basis, without first building a foundation.

In the past, I've had friendly, willing babies that went a year or more into training before I realized that they had NO training at all, that we were simply a couple of buddies hanging out and having fun. These horses like people and are bold and enjoy getting out and doing fun stuff. They did everything I asked so I naively didn't realize there would come a time that I would ask something they wouldn't want to do, and because it was a 'new' situation, that we'd have problems with that.

I'm going to try real hard not to make that mistake with Andi. The lines of communication are open. She knows I'm talking to her, and she knows I'm listening when she talks back. I'm going to take the time to build a relationship, to give her a foundation and reasons to trust me, but I will, over time, be sure she understands that while I listen to her and answer her questions, that I have the final say in our discussions.

Ideally, I'll be able to do this subtly and gently over time. It's all fine lines and shades of gray, trying to find that perfect balance ... to ask more than what she'll do easily and just for fun without asking her to do something she'll outright refuse.

Over the next weeks, I'll introduce her to Linda TJ's 'wand' and 'put her in the box'. She'll learn to move her feet for me, to move away from pressure on her body, and we'll start doing some simple gymnastics in-hand. The plan is that the "go forward" cue will become simple habit as we transition from walking the barn alley or the arena to tarps, creeks, and even loading in the trailer. I'll try to find stuff for her to cross that will worry her just enough to think about it before she'll go ahead. Over time, she'll learn that I won't ask her to do something she can't do, and when there does come a time—out on a bad trail or in a trailer accident or any of those bizarre situations that horses and horseman get into—that I have to ask her to do something dangerous or at least very strange, she'll lay that trust in my hand and let me guide her out of something that frightens her or that she doesn't understand.

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