Head Down Cue

While visiting my parents we spent some time at the barn. Because what else would you do? 😉

Mom mentioned that her lovely horse Silver would not lower his head from the saddle. She had tried and tried with no success. She has done a great job teaching him anything else she had decided to try and was frustrated by this one thing.

I got on him and found exactly what she had said. He was soft and responsive to his head gear. He is willing and mostly agreeable, all he really wanted to do ever was eat, so only mostly agreeable. He was not lowering his head though.

When we went back the next day I took advantage of his strong desire to eat and installed ‘Head Down For Calmness’. I stroked his neck as a cue to lower his head. He picked it up immediately. It had been miserably hot and more humid than could handle being used to the bone dry high plains. This day a storm was blowing in that would hopefully cool things down a little. I was still barely able to handle the heat, even in my flip flops. The wind was picking up and thunder rumbling in the not so far distance.

Silver still stood quietly, only interested in grazing. He was so good I decided to hop on quickly bareback.

Even a well installed cue can be difficult for a horse to understand when you make a big change, like moving from the ground to the back. So we made it easier for him by once again making use of the grass. Silver picked it up immediately.

Then we added in the reins. By picking up the reins before giving the cue we are adding a new cue that will soon replace the old one. In the couple of minutes this video took Silver had figured out the change of the cue from the ground to his back and then transferred that action to a new cue. It’s amazing how fast horses are capable of learning.

That isn’t the point of this post though.

So often we get hung up on our horses not being able to do something. Not in the normal manner or stages of progression.

Instead of thinking that means we can’t do something we need to take a few big steps backwards and find a way around the road block.

Just because Silver couldn’t understand that picking up the reins meant to lower his head didn’t mean he couldn’t figure out how to lower his head. We just had to teach it in a way that he WAS able to understand.

Don’t let road blocks stop you. Instead find a detour and get around them!


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