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The Horse Lover's Blog

Who's Confused, Me or the Horse?

Trying to teach Robin to leg yield. To the right, no problem. To the left, not possible. I read my books (Mary Wanless, Sally Swift, everyone!), worked on my position, agonized. I also, in the barn, asked her to sidestep away from my hand on both sides. Click, treat, nicker. She was definitely less prompt going to the left.
The next day I put my right leg on her, and she stepped strongly, and with a very cross expression, TO THE RIGHT. She "knew" what she was supposed to do.

A light bulb went on over my head. The problem was in her mind, not in my body. She'd formed a different theory--when someone puts a leg on you, step right. So I simply persisted, ignoring correct form, until I got a tiny, cramped, annoyed step left. Click, treat, quit for the day! And the next day she got it.

Moral of the story? Always train both sides of the horse. And don't assume you know what's going on. Of course any failure of the horse is your fault, but maybe not in the way you imagine.
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