29 August 2013

Danny Boy - Part 7 - Changed My Mind....

He's packing away the groceries and I see good, solid, positive changes. He's mentally and emotionally raising the bar each day, so I have to rise to the challenge.


Last week during the ground work, Danny Boy was looking for more. So I changed my mind about riding him and I've been doing that ever since.

Here's an example:

After a ground work session mainly focused on teaching Danny Boy to move away from pressure, I climbed the panel to have him come pick me up. Once aboard, he moved us over to the round pen gate.

Perfect! He wanted out and so did I. But to do that, Danny Boy needed to help me open the gate. That required moving away from pressure. Ah! Mounted work on the very thing I just presented in the ground work session!

Total confusion. Here's why:

From Danny Boy's perspective, moving away from pressure is not a good thing. In fact, his propensity to lean into pressure probably saved his life. When those kids were pushing and prodding and climbing all over him, Danny Boy did not respond. (See earlier posts about the family of kids...) He kept his feet planted firmly when they leaned against his legs, he never went too fast when that long line of kids was sitting on his back, kicking and flailing about. He knew not to respond to all that pressure based activity.

Overcoming the confusion:

My job is to maintain Danny Boy's safety minded wisdom and add the concept that we want him to move away from pressure. His new owner can ride and she doesn't need him to take care of her like she is a child. She loves his kindness, but does not want to kick and then kick harder to cause him to believe that she is, in fact, asking for faster movement.

Back to the gate.

I spent 20 minutes teaching Danny Boy that it is okay to go when he feels me pressing slightly with both legs. I applied a small amount of rhythm from my mecate to assure him that I indeed wanted forward. He was so surprised! Repeatedly, I would press with my lower leg and Danny Boy would look back at me. I tapped my mecate against my leg and Danny Boy would swing his head to front and leap forward. The reins were looped loose so that he would not feel any pressure on his mouth, poll or neck when he went forward. Additionally, I didn't tell him how to go forward, I just asked for it. I accepted whatever he offered and at first his response was leaping.

It took another 20 minutes for Danny Boy to go briskly forward without leaping when I pressed gently. Then another 20 for Danny Boy to realize that I have two legs and when only one is pressing, he should move away from that leg going sideways and not forward.

Interesting concepts for Danny Boy to figure out. We indeed made it out of the round pen with Danny Boy assisting me with the gate. I was very happy with his progress and he was very happy with himself to learn this new concept....


  1. Keep up the wonderful post, I love them

  2. this fascinating,the way he had conceptualised his job earlier, and how no you teach him a whole new concept, and his surprised but willing response.! So important not to inadvertently punish him for the leaping; that might have bothered an inexperienced rider, making for a bad outcome. Really good point, not to ask for forward, but then basically punish it, by grabbing, or being unwilling to accomodate his answer, while in the saddle!!

  3. Yes. The idea is to offer another option - in this case, GO FORWARD! Danny Boy spent the first part of his life going as slowly as possible. He is not lazy. He is not unwilling - no, not at all. He is, however; convinced that he should not change his speed from anything other than SLOW. Once he recognized that I enjoy the faster speeds, he is now happily moving out in all three speeds. He is smooth and easy to ride.