Dancing the Do Si Do

INTRODUCTION

Once the horse and handler have mastered smooth forequarter yields and smooth hindquarter yields, we can build the DO SI DO. It consists of asking for a hindquarter yield first. Then, as the horse’s hind end is moving away, we stand upright and move back slightly so the horse brings his head through, and we end up in his other eye.

It is a way of changing sides by the horse doing the moving. Once that is achieved, we add a yield of the forequarters.

If the horse’s lifestyle keeps him supple, this series of movements is a good stretching and bending exercise. If the horse finds it hard, we have useful feedback to use in our planning.

AIM

The horse is able to execute a smooth 360-degree hindquarter yield followed immediately by a smooth 360-degree forequarter yield.

PREREQUISITES

  1. Horse and handler agree on signals to yield the hindquarters. See Number 83 in my Blog Contents List.
  2. Horse and handler agree on signals to yield the forequarters. See Number 84 in my Blog Contents List.

VIDEOS

#270 HorseGym with Boots: Do Si Do. https://youtu.be/EJ2w_sX_uOk

MATERIALS AND ENVIRONMENT

  • A training area where the horse is relaxed and ideally can see his buddies, but they can’t interfere.
  • Horse is not hungry.

NOTES

  1. Use a rate of reinforcement (how often you click&treat) that allows the horse to easily work out exactly what he has to do to earn his next click&treat.
  2. As the horse begins to understand the sequence of movements, gradually move the click point along until eventually there is one at the end of the whole series of movements.
  3. Whenever the horse gets ‘lost’, immediately return to click&treat for what he can do and work forward gradually from that spot.
  4. Do a little bit often, as this is hard work for the horse.
  5. Be aware that when we give signals with the non-dominant side of our body, they may not be as clear and precise as when we use the dominant side of our body. We can improve this once we are aware of it. In the same way, the horse may find yielding in one direction more difficult. If you notice a difference, begin teaching using the direction he finds easier. Later, do a few extra repeats on the difficult side.

SLICES

  1. Ask the horse to yield is hindquarters with body language, energy and a gesture signal (and voice if you like – I use the word “Away”) about a meter out from his side. Move along with him, keeping your relative position and using ‘constant on’ signals (body orientation, arm gesture and energy) until you want him to stop (at which point you stand up straight and stop all signals). Click&treat.
  2. Click&treat each single step away at first, then gradually work toward click&treat for a full 360 turn. How long it all takes to get smooth with this part of the task depends on previous training and how clear our signals are.
  3. At some point, stop following the hindquarters around, stand upright in one spot and move back a bit so that the horse can bring his head through the space in front of you, which puts you on his other side – in his other eye. Click&treat. Spend the time (via many short sessions) to get this part smooth.
  4. Teach 1-3 above from the beginning on the horse’s other side. He may find one direction harder.
  5. When 1-3 above are in good shape, gently build and consolidate your forequarter yield by itself until you have a smooth 360-degree turn on the haunches. Start with click&treat for one good step and build from there.
  6. Repeat 5 above on the horse’s other side. Again, he may find one direction harder.
  7. When all the above are going well, after completing slice 3 (and click&treat on completion of slice 3), ask for the forequarter yield. Just a step or two at first, before a click&treat, but gradually work toward the full turn on the haunches.
  8. Work toward a 360-degree hindquarter yield (turn on the forehand) followed immediately by a 360-degree forequarter yield without a click&treat stop in the middle. We can call it achieved when a full 360-degree yield in both directions is ho-hum.
  9. Work with 8 above starting on the other side of the horse.

GENERALIZATION

  1. Practice in many different places.
  2. Practice on a slope.
  3. Start with forequarter yield and morph into hindquarter yield.
  4. Once we have the simple bow, line dancing in place with the front feet, and the do si do mastered, we can chain the three tasks together.

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