If you don’t know equines well, it always comes as a surprise that they must be trained on both sides of their body. What you teach the left side of the horse might remain a great mystery to the right side of the horse. We discussed this not too long ago but here, in Task 40, we can see that Bravo is very willing and able to perform the behavior from his right side, but he really has no clue on his left.
He is not right biased in everything. The video production is lagging behind the training. I am already sitting on him. He was very keen to let me on from the left side, but he really struggled with the concept that I might want to mount on the right side. He wasn’t afraid, he merely kept turning to give me the side he thought I wanted. I waited him out and he finally figured it out.
Every single thing needs to be trained from the left and the right. There is one exception to this. I teach him that the leading position is always with the human on his left. I used to train both sides, but I think in a production environment where you are trying to get horses through the system, it is not worth training to lead on the right. It takes too much time, but if I am training my own horse, it is on the plan. I indicate to the horse which side he should be on by an arm gesture.
Here we are using a form of pressure to cue him. The less pressure you use, the easier it is for him to understand and not get emotional. It has to be salient, but not bothersome.
In many of the videos, you may have noticed me bridging as I hold the camera. This is not a recommended procedure! I do it because frequently John forgets to bridge or doesn’t bridge when the animal first tries it. It helps John get his timing, but I am very conscious that I don’t like it in the video. I left a snippet where Bravo finally does two correct steps in a row and is bridged, but then he is asked for more. Asking for more than the animal can do is a set up for problems. Keep the animal successful and don’t keep asking for more until the animal fails.
Patterns to Develop
- Lateral cross over steps with hinds
- Independent cueing of front and rear legs
Patterns to Avoid
- Reliance on strong cue to signal start
In the Success video, I had to just use some fragments because at the time of filming the horse was already working at a low latency response with multiple steps. But at first, you should reinforce for any lateral movement even if it doesn’t involve cross over steps. Save the cross-over criterion for a later stage. Get starting going before you ask for more.
Please let me know if you have questions or comments. If you are a member, you can also post a picture or video link of your own efforts at Task 40 in the forum.
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