The Next Step from Ground to Saddle for the Head Up and Head Down Exercise

A Visit from a Friend I got another visit from our sparrow. Again, I asked Maestro to canter around me and upon his first step into the canter; here came his friend flying onto his back from some unknown place. This was the second time this little bird has done this when I began training. He flew away when Maestro came to me. I scared the bird off his back, from me being too close to him. The little sparrow has joined the horses and rides all of them daily. I have watched him for some time and the only reason he seems to want to sit on the horses is that it is fun. He eats from the ground with the horses and sits on them with no interest in picking bugs off them. Usually I see sparrows in groups, but we do not have any other sparrows on our ranch right now.

Sometimes the horses try to shoo him off their backs, but he will not go. I have seen the horses flinging their heads violently in the bird’s direction when he is on their backs and he just hops a few inches to safety on another part of the horses back. The horses then forget he is there and go on with their day. The horses do not scare him at all. When he is on the ground with them, their moving feet are inches from him and he is fine with that. However, I cannot get 10 feet from him before he will choose to fly away. I get the crazy idea that evolution will change him and he will become friendlier to us. I envision that he could evolve riding on us as well.

Before Expecting Perfection Under Saddle I wanted to mention to my class about the Head Up and Head Down game, to cause a horse not to try to graze on the trail while riding. Once you have the Head Up and Head Down game in place from the ground, before you can expect it to work from the saddle, you need to do a lot of training from the saddle as well before your horse would not try to graze on the trail for another person, especially if a child was riding. What you could do, if the horse has not been seasoned, is to suggest that the child loop the reins on the saddle horn just before the horse wants to graze and say to the horse “head up”, this way the child could be involved in the training of the horse to not graze. Children naturally love training horses.

The connection and leadership would not be enough in place just from the horse experiencing the Head Up and Head Down game from the ground. What needs to be done is that the horse needs to be seasoned for at least a couple of months by the rider that trained him from the ground to develop a habit of not grazing on the trail unless asked to.

A Child's Game I actually developed the game Head Up and Head Down when I was a child. When I rode horses as a child, I had a strong leadership nature and I could keep my horses from grazing when I had a bridle on him. I could tell when he was going to start grazing and I would check him with the reins or loop them over the saddle horn, making it impossible for the horse to put his head down or I would ride off in a faster gate from the spot he wanted to graze on. In the desert this was easy to do for there was not a lot of grass, though it caused a horse to want to graze even more when they saw grass.

When I started riding my horse without tack, this desire to graze really got in my way. Mustang was really good at taking direction without tack of any kind but when he saw grass, I lost all control of him. I would have to get off him and lead him away from it with a small rope I carried on me just for this purpose and when I got back on I made sure that I rode him in a direction he could not see grass.

It was a problem, so I went to my father and asked him what I should do and he was the one that told me where I could put my focus and suggested that I make it a game from the ground. This exercise is now a part of my Waterhole Rituals training program for horses and humans. I offer this lesson in the Insider Circle class and the Extended Circle class. We will have another one coming up in April.

Announcements: I want to announce that I will be doing private clinics this year from my ranch, two a month, so book early to reserve a spot. We have some great fun in store for you while you are learning how to use my program.

Also, Kai my working student will be leaving in the month of December so I will have another opening for a working student. If you are interested, send me a brief letter of your interest in becoming a working student and then we can set up a phone interview. I am looking for someone with horse training skills in dressage that wants to learn my ground training methods or a person that could offer a lot of support in some other need in my home and office. I will be waiting for your reply.

Have a great weekend and be sure to ask your horse to follow your lead only when you have his full attention and he is willing to stand still on a loose rein. This way he will be much more willing to follow your lead. Try it this can be fun too. [youtube]lXKDu6cdXLI[/youtube] Watch out for new horse and human sighting and may the horse be with you.