Self carriage

After watching Jonnas presentation on retraining off the track horses, and following on from my lesson on Coolie, I knew I wanted to work on self carriage. Jonna and I had a very in depth chat about training off the track horses, and about how I could apply seeing what Jonna was doing to my own horses.

I was very aware from the get go not to nag. Jonna could immediately tell I was more aware and that I had made a huge improvement. If Henry was sow off my leg, I immediately tapped him behind my leg with my whip. This tuned him up pretty well. My downwards were super light, and Jonna was impressed.

After I warmed up, Jonna asked me if I had done any operant conditioning with Henry to the whip. I replied that I had, so Jonna wanted me to go from halt to walk, only using my whip. The first try, I had to do about 16 taps, gradually increasing the pressure. The second time it was about 8 and the number decreased each time. Once we got it quite light, (not light enough yet, I have homework), Jonna had me go from halt to trot with just the whip. Halt to trot took much fewer taps, and I got it light by the third repetition.

We had a walk break, and Henry was having to work quite hard. The sun was out for the first time in weeks, so we were both quite warm! After our break we worked on lengthening the stride of the trot without having him break into canter. The first time went better than we thought, with Henry lengthening his stride and not breaking. The second time he popped into canter so I corrected him and ask the question again. The third repetition was on the money too.

Baby horse has big trot!
Then I asked for canter and the transition was prompt, light and forward. Jonna had me lengthen the canter on the long side, and to continually test self carriage. Henry was very cute and did a longer canter, and shortened it easily along the short side.

His transition to trot was so light, and it was equally good on both reins. Next, Jonna had me sit the trot, and keep the same rhythm. This was hard, because it's not something we have done much of at all, other than me sitting briefly to show Henry it's something we do sometimes. When Henry softened and was in self carriage I transitioned to walk.

Next Jonna had me do everything in two point to change the context of the question to test if Henry understood what was being asked of him. halt to walk, and walk to trot were easy, but he jumped into canter showing he was a bit worried about the change. Downward transitions in 2 point were easy and light too, with Henry coming back mostly from my knees closings and then very light reins.

Second repetition of the exercises was great and Henry popped into canter very sweetly. We finished there and everyone was so impressed by Henry, including me! Everything we did reinforced that Henry understands what is being asked. His training is solid and we can keep building on it. Jonna was impressed than Henry got some of the trickier questions the first go.

It was also good to see how through training pays off, especially seeing the other off the track horses earlier int he day. It made me feel like we have come so far and have made really good progress.

In addition to the lesson I told Jonna about our recent result at the Showman day. He was pleased for me but it got him thinking about a competition that includes more groundwork and emphasis on training. So I have been tasked to come up with something and promote it and Jonna will sponsor it. Exciting!


  1. Henry looks good! Also I would be curious to hear what sort of ideas you come up with for promoting

    1. I think i fell in love with him all over again.

      I'm in full planning mod. And am far too excited about it.


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