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Wizard Session 18: Cracked the Code… Twirl = Tap!

December 7, 2008

Running Braid


Do you speak Wizard-ese? I did not, but now I DO!!! Tonight, I asked my friend to longe Wizard. Out of curiosity, I wanted to watch Wizard’s body language and also see if somebody else would have better luck with him.

So did he go forward on the right?


What was the magic bullet?


As soon as my friend had him ready to longe, she continually twirled the longe whip and off he went! He went around several times. He stopped once but she got him going again very easily. He does not know verbal commands but a smooch got him to speed up and he stopped when the twirling stopped.

She also told me a little more about his background since she has known him for a few years. She said that he definitely has little or no training on a longe line.

All my life, I was taught to tap, tap, tap for forward motion on the ground. A horse longes until he is told to stop. But this makes so much more sense now that I think about it. Wizard got a little bit of barrel training after he retired from the track and somewhere along the line, he was taught twirl, twirl, twirl of a whip or lead rope is a forward command for loading into a trailer, travelling in a round pen, etc.

He never learned tap, tap, tap from the ground! This explains why he kicked out a few weeks ago when I tapped him as part of a groundwork session. He was not responding so I kept tapping and he got so flustered that he kicked out behind him (not at me). I growled at him to go forward and kept tapping and he eventually moved forward but it was clear that he was reluctant. I thought it was physical but now I wonder if he was just totally baffled by me and my silly tapping. His body language reflected his confusion when we were longing in past sessions. He was rushing and stopping because he did not understand to keep going. And now I know how he acts when he’s trying his best but cannot understand what I want. Problem solved!!! Now we can work on verbal commands.

He understands the tap of a whip under saddle because he was trained to race. I’ve tapped him with a dressage whip under saddle and he responds quickly and quietly.

After the great revelation, I longed Wizard just a few times around each way at the trot. Changed direction a few times to make sure it was not just a coincidence. We did 10 minutes of clicker work and he’s becoming quite a pro at “head down”. We also had a great walk today. I took him for a hand walk on the trails behind the property. He was awesome.

I gave Wizard extra carrots and told him how sorry I was for confusing him.

On to bigger and better.

Don’t you wish every horsey problem could be solved to easily???

4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 7, 2008 11:49 am

    Sophiese was pretty easy to figure out. All she said was no work, more treats! Fortunately she’s adapted pretty well to work and there isn’t anything she was trained to do that I can’t figure out (other than asking her to Spanish Walk on the ground). Though I did have a similar experience with the travers. I was asked with all the aids at the same time and she would get confused and break into the trot.

    So the next day I tried it by asking her to move just her haunches over and that worked. When I showed Kim she said I needed more bend, I tried getting her butt moved over, and then putting my inside leg on her to ask for bend and voila, travers! With Jessie the only thing that worked was to do shoulder in, and then ask him to change to travers, keeping the same bend.

    I don’t think I’m going to make it to the PA Horse Expo, though Matt McLaughlin is going to be there, he’s soooo dreamy. It’d be interesting to watch him again now that I have a better understanding of dressage.

    If you decide to go the Raspberry Leaves route, order them in bulk. I get mine from the San Francisco Herb Company because they have some really good loose leaf tea mixes that I order too. I spend as much on a 6 month supply as I would on one bag of Mare Magic. I think that they have a lot of magnesium in them, as well as other vitamins/minerals.

  2. oregonsunshine permalink
    December 7, 2008 3:38 pm

    I learned tap, tap, tap but somewhere that knowledge disappeared until you mentioned it here. With Casey I twirl because his previous owner twirled. He’s not as responsive as I like and not much is known about his past. So, I will try tap, tap, tap today! Thanks for the reminder!

  3. dangerouspenguin permalink
    December 8, 2008 12:30 am

    Great news. When I was first leasing Tonka I would hand walk him all over the place like a dog, just so that we could look at things together. I bought him long before I ever really rode him. Glad to hear that you are taking such pains with Wizard too.

  4. oregonsunshine permalink
    December 8, 2008 1:59 pm

    Well tap, tap, tap didn’t work. I was using a shorter shafted longe whip so twirl wasn’t in Casey’s vocabulary either. I know he gets it with a longer whip, because he’s done it before.

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