Are Your Horse Activities
"Stalled" due to COVID 19?
By Lisa Bockholt, John Lyons Certified Trainer

Part 2 of 2

Stalled_Lisa Bockholt
IMPROVE TRAILER LOADING MANNERS - A barn aisle way and open stall door provides the perfect set up for perfecting a cue that tells your horse to go forward on command. Make a game out of it. Can you have your horse go forward "x" number of steps, and only "x" number of steps?

DO THE HOKEY POKEY - Mark a point in the barn aisle or in the dirt. Perhaps use a stick, or landscape timber. Can you have your horse stop on command at a certain point? Can you have your horse cross the landscape timber? Can you have your horse put their right front foot over the log, then take their right front foot back over the log? Left foot? Both front feet--stop--both front feet back? Do a turn on the forehand? Turn on the haunches? Before long, you can have your horse doing the hokey pokey! Literally!

PLAY DRESS UP - Remember when we were kids and we would play dress up? Ranch confinement can actually be lots of fun. For instance, how would your horse look in a rain slicker? Better yet, would your horse even tolerate you throwing a rain slicker over his back? Head? Neck? Ears? Under his legs? How about a hat? Would your horse allow you to place a hat or plastic bonnet on his head? Would your horse allow you to open and close an umbrella while in his presence without getting afraid? Be creative, and experiment. This is a great time to expose your horse to lots of things that you may not think would startle him.

Finally, here's one of my favorites.

THE PUSH BUTTON HORSE - You may have heard the term "push button" horse. If you can't get out and ride, this is a great exercise to pass the time and help you to develop a more responsive, willing partner. Using one finger, and one finger only, your goal is to see how much pressure it will take you to get a response of movement away from pressure from your horse. Stand facing your horse. Have your horse outfitted in a halter, with a lead rope in hand. Place one finger in the middle of your horse's chest and see if he moves backwards. Play this game by working on one spot at a time until you develop a response off the lightest touch. In the event the horse ignores the initial pressure, continue increasing the pressure of your one finger until the horse moves away - in this case backwards. Practice this one particular area until you have it down solid. Then, find another "spot" to play with. For instance, the spot where your heel or spurs might touch your horse. Press on that "spot" with one finger, but do it lightly. The easier your horse moves away from the lightest amount pressure he feels, the better trained he is.

So how well trained is your horse, really? If you can't travel to your normal horse activities, take the time and you might be surprised at what you find. Maybe there are things you can improve upon. At the very least, you can have some fun with your horse despite the quarantine.

Remember; always exercise caution when working around any horse, no matter what area you are confined to. People can be just as easily hurt working their horse in a round pen or corral as they can in a barn or aisle way. Your safety should always be your number one priority. And, remember that all good training takes time, practice, consistency, and patience. Never try to rush your horse through an exercise or lesson. Horses are conditioned-response animals. You set up the same condition repeatedly, and over time, the horse will learn to respond a certain way. The more times you repeat the same action with your horse, the better the cue you have developed.

For questions, you can call Lisa at 410-608-2195 or email