Junior is doing so well with the showmanship I am shopping for a show halter! I would really, really like a beautiful heirloom quality vintage sterling silver halter, but I'm not going to try that out of the gate. Great way to look like a newb! Instead I'm looking at getting a nice new halter for now, and I can continue to hunt for the diamond in the rough. I lost an ebay auction by a dollar last week :( on a lovely halter, but I would have had to find a lead to match and probably go as far as having to re-dye one piece or both. I've done leather dying before, but for stage and NOT for something as close-up as a showmanship class. Showmanship is a class that's all about details and having mismatched leather or a bent buckle makes the presentation look sloppy. The judge is so close you have to be very detail oriented, much more than under saddle. A vintage halter might say "I have no idea what I'm doing here!" instead of "Look at this beautiful piece of Western Americana!" So I'm spending a bit more than I originally intended to get a new quality halter. I'm not going super high-end, but I'm going to the upper middle class, so to speak. I tend to not like two-tone, but I find this one very attractive. What do you think?
Our lesson on Wednesday was great. I (we both) got really frustrated at one point, but by the end we had executed a pretty decent beginner pattern. We made huge strides on pivots and backing, including 360's and 90's, so he's getting not just a 180, but to begin the pivot and end the pivot when and where I ask him to. Our backing is straighter, but still needs work. The biggest thing that is going to be tough to get through is his tendency to anticipate. His willingness to please sometimes gets in the way. For instance, now that we're learning that when I move into his neck he begins a pivot, when I lead him to the mounting block, and then turn to walk to the saddle he moves away. He started doing this when I began teaching him to back, so I know that if I am consistent and patient he will understand the differences in body language. I'm also trying to only put the chain under his chin when we're doing showmanship to try to associate the movements of showmanship with the tack configuration...... I'm assuming, of course, that he can do advanced cognitive reasoning.... THIS ARTICLE is a great introduction to how horses learn. A lot of teaching showmanship is a form of Operant Associative Learning. In other words, we make the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard. If when I step into you you do not move away, I will tap you on the shoulder with my lead. I worked with a jerk of a jumper-guy when I took the gym class horseback riding while I was in grad school. (That could be a whole blog entry by itself.) He, just like every horse person in my life, taught me something useful. He taught me "Ask, Tell, Make." Ask the horse to do it. If he doesn't do it, TELL him to do it, and if he still doesn't do it, MAKE him. The goal is that the horse learns to do it when you ask him. Life is simply easier that way. Luckily my pony is inherently eager to please. I usually only have to growl at him to let him know he needs to stop doing whatever it is he's doing, which is a good thing because I am constantly aware that I cannot physically MAKE an 1100 lb animal do anything he doesn't want to do, I can just sort of annoy him into compliance! LOL!