When Baby Steps Come Leaps and Bounds! – Maggie’s Progress

Since my decision to dedicate more time to my horses in January a lot has happened. I wish I would have had more of a chance to document the changes that Maggie has gone through since then, but that is not very high on my priority list.

At the beginning I started with a filly who a little about a few basics, but beyond that she was very green. I spend a few frosty mornings getting dragged around the arena by that little 900lbs power house.

Now only 19 hours of training later I have a willing partner, who understands that I am trying to communicate with her, and tries her best to understand!

I have always been a believer in breaking training into baby steps, but I have never taken it quite as seriously now, and I can hardly believe the difference. Looking back at Mac at the same age, it’s like night and day.

Mind you Mac has come an incredible distance as well, and despite the issues I encountered at the beginning he is now a very well rounded horse.

As for Maggie here is a short list of her new skills, and how they relate to the next steps we are about to tackle. I use these steps as prerequisites for the proceeding advancements so my horses need to know them, and know them well before I continue.


  • Accepting the stick n’ string
  • Accepting ‘Random’ things (Me jumping suddenly, the activity ball bouncing etc.)
  • Lunging willingly at all three gates (and stopping willingly)
  • Moving out of my space (yielding her shoulders)
  • Disengaging hips (aids in teaching the stop while lunging)
  • Backing up by tapping on the cannon bones
  • Desensitizing with: The lung line; Sting n’ string; Bareback pad; Plastic bags etc.
  • Willingly passing over foreign objects (i.e. Tarp, Bridge etc.)
  • Accepting pressure around her middle (using a soft rope to simulate the cinch)
  • Accepting the bridle (prep with soft rope to simulate bit)
  • Accepting the idea of the saddle falling off (letting it slid off, no cinch, no pad)

These steps are in no particular order, the order may change from horse to horse depending on how they react.

The next steps I will be covering in the next few weeks will go somewhat like this…

  • Saddling
  • Saddling with bridle and introducing rein pressure
  • Teaching the ‘parking brake’ (bending head around to shoulder)
  • Start ground driving to teach more advanced rein pressure
  • Teaching to lung small circle around me with dressage crop and reins. (this will become my ‘gas pedal during the first rides)
  • ‘Tease mounting’ (placing foot in stirrup, and jumping, swing into saddle, dismounting etc)
  • Mounting up and riding around with focus on impulsion using the ‘gas pedal’ mentioned above

Then from there I will continue refining my cues, and practicing mounted exercises.

When my training is broken down into these steps it seems like it would take a lot longer to accomplish but the fact is with all these little steps, if something bad happens I will only need to take a small step back, rather than starting over from scratch!

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