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Teaching cues to Maximiliano

<p>My Peruvian Paso gelding Maximiliano is progressing in his training. Now that he has lost his fear a bit and it is safe to actually be on his back I have been working on cues with him. Teaching him things has really helped to establish a good relationship.</p>

He has been respectful from the beginning. Whenever we are together in a small space and he wants to turn around he never turns his back to me. That's quite important, because the hind legs are the horses weapons and I definitely want those to point away from me. However, that's not always possible and so he does a remarkable thing. He puts all his body weight on the hind quarters and then pivots around. That's like saying "see, like this I really can't kick". I do appreciate that. He also knows that I like to see his face and so when I move so does he. Good Boy!

At the breeding farm in Virginia he had learned to turn left and right, go and stop. But that was just a start and it was in the bozal. While in Panama I made good experience with a bitless bridle that creates pressure on the horse's cheek instead of pulling the mouse. There is no piece of metal in the mouth either, which makes it easier to eat and drink with the bridle on.

Maximiliano understood the pressure on the cheek immediately and is moving left when the pressure is on the right. But then who wants to pull on the reins all the time. He is so sensitive and reacts to every little thing. Why pull and yank and do all that heavy stuff? With such a sensitive horse a heavy hand would actually be dangerous.

Instead of pulling the reins we have worked on leg cues instead. I put more weight in the left stirrup and he turns left. More weight in the right stirrup means turns right. That feels natural to the rider and keeps you on the horse when doing sharp turns because your center of gravity is moved into the curve. For some reason it works much better to the left than to the right but he really tries to please and get it. Progress is good. Good boy!

The last time we trained it was a bit windy and so he spooked here and there because of the wind. However, he did not run away. He kind of asks whether he should run and if I stay calm and move him into a circle, he calms down and stops moving.

Unfortunately I lost an opportunity for a wonderful trail ride in the snow. I was afraid that he might spook because of snow falling of a tree branch or something else unknown to him. I feel we need to work a bit more on our trust relationship so that he becomes more secure and safer to ride.

What has changed dramatically from before is his behavior when I want to catch him. Before he was always trying to avoid me when there was space to move away. Now I can walk up to him and he stays and let me touch him. It's not yet perfect but the more I just catch and release him, the more he just waits for me to come back.

Getting there. Good Boy!