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Interrupt the First Thought to Change a Pattern

Updated: Jan 26, 2023

A client recently asked me to help her with her horse, who had developed a habit of jogging when he was anxious or excited. We went out for a hack so I could see the issue for myself. The horse didn't actually start jogging while I was there but he did start to stride on and lean on the bit as he got closer to home. We discussed this behaviour and noted that the leaning alway seemed to come before the jogging started. In theory, if we nip this in the bud, we can stop the jogging happening.

The first time the horse started to lean on the bit, we stopped him and asked him to take one step back. Then he had to stand on a loose rein (i.e. not being held back) before he was asked to walk forwards again. We repeated this exercise about 10 times on the way back to the yard, each time waiting for him to pause at halt. Sometimes he would only take 2 or 3 steps before he started leaning again. Everytime this happened, we corrected it. This may sound weary and need patience but it really didn't take long as the horse realised quickly that he wasn't getting very far.

I have since had feedback from the owner that so far, the homework is going well and there has been no jogging on hacks. Sometimes you just have to interrupt a pattern or idea and put a new pattern in place to make a change.

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