What a difference a day makes.
I read up a little on how to train a horse to pony, now that I realized that a horse does indeed have to be trained to pony, and it's not some inborn skill.
This is the article that came up on a google search.
I encourage you to read it and then come back to this post...
Are you back? Did you find it as intimidating as I did? I mean, I'm supposed to handle my horse, handle my split reins, handle a lead line, and control another horse with a stick in my hand. How many hands does this guy think humans have anyway? And should I be whistling Waltzing Matilda at the same time? That Aussie is nuts!
I trailered Woody and Joey over to my friend's place this morning. I gathered all the tools described in the article, and made ready in the arena. First, I longed Joey to get him listening and focused. Check.
Then I tried to just walk Joey in the manner Clinton Anderson described. I did NOT like the lead line across Woody's chest. I imagined that if Joey balked, there would be a rope burn across Woody's chest and a sizeable vet bill. I was not going to do that. I wanted to be able to get out of trouble immediately if needed. No sense in turning this training session into a wreck.
Well, I got it figured out after a bit. Left hand held the reins and the lead line. Right hand held the training stick, the nice long variety. Woody is an experienced horse that neck reins well. I positioned Joey's head at my right foot while mounted. We started walking. I could then reach back and tap Joey on the hind end if he showed any signs of slowing or balking. IT WORKS!
In fact, Joey even got going too fast and I had to check him with the lead line to keep his head where I wanted it. But getting him to trot and walk lively was no longer an issue.
In retrospect, I wish I had started out this way, because it might be a problem that Joey learned a couple of times that he could get away from me. He still has a tendency to back up when pressured, and that's something that a more experienced horse will not do. If I had started this training correctly, he would never have experienced that release for the wrong action. But overall, I was very pleased with our progress.
I also trotted him from the ground with me jogging ahead, and he was moving more freely. He still wants to act like he doesn't want to move with me, however. But a few taps with the training stick and some longeing to free up his "stuck feet", corrected that quickly.
Both horses got a well-deserved hosing down and some extra alfalfa for their efforts. It proved to be a big step in the right direction. I think I just caught myself whistling a few bars of "Waltzing Matilda".