Saturday, December 10, 2016

Take A Bow

While Donni has been laid up, I've been at the barn on a daily basis to help look after her.

I'm not a trick trainer, but I thought it might be fun to teach a trick or two to Chili.

Here has been my method so far.

Initially, I worked on handling Chili's feet with lead ropes.  It's good practice anyway to have horses desensitized in case they manage to wander away with a lead rope attached.  In a picture perfect world, my horses stay perfectly still where I ask them, however, it's not a perfect world and they have been known to wander away and subsequently step on a lead rope.

Once she was fine with having ropes on and around her feet, I began picking one foot up with the lead rope and asking her to put her head down for a treat.

As she was comfortable with this, I began asking her to rock her weight back a little bit and let me bring her foot further under her body.

I know some individuals ask the other front leg stretch down further, but my goal was to have a position where the horse is dictating where she is comfortable, so if we have an odd bow, that works for me. 

This is how far I'd previously gotten as far as having her start to reach under and let me handle and bring her leg under her body. 

My goal this past week is trying to have her begin responding to tactile cues and not be reliant on the rope handling her "bowing" leg.  I have two cues that I've been using.  First, I touch the inside of the leg to pick up and then under her belly to bring the leg back.

I have also been pairing these cues with the word "bow".  My eventual hope is that she will be able to response just to the verbal cue and reinforce with tactile cues as necessary.

As I've been out daily this past week, I've worked a couple minutes with Chili.  It's been a little more cold and I haven't had the time to fully tack and ride, so I wanted to see if we could make more progress on our bow.

Usually in the beginning, we have to reinforce with the rope once and then back to tactile and verbal cues. 

The other day, I took a short break and was talking on the phone to my husband.  He asked what I was doing and I told him "Teaching Chili to bow".

I looked over and saw this.

Clearly not the full bow, but a fun work in progress! 

Does your horse bow?  Any interesting tricks or other behaviors that they perform?


  1. So cool! My thoroughbred used to bow and I really want to teach B, just have to take the time to teach him. Hoping to do a little more trick-training this winter!

    1. Trick training seems fun and certainly is doable while it's subzero and I'm wearing 10,000 layers and Carhartts. A little harder to ride with said 10,000 layers. :)

  2. I taught Ramone how to bow.. and one time when i went to show off to Megan he decided to lose his balance and almost fall on me >:[ he was always kind of a klutz.

    1. Hahaha. Poor klutzy baby Dino.

      Chili isn't super graceful either, but we try to do things slowly so she can figure out where she's at.


Please leave a comment if you like. I love hearing from readers and would like to know that I am not always talking to myself. ;)