Replacing what you've taken out
"It's not that horses don’t carry baggage. They do, because they learn quickly (and Thoroughbreds especially so) and they have prodigious memories. Horses bring stuff to the table for sure. That’s why training them can be like playing cards. If you want to have the upper hand, you need to keep track of which cards have been played and figure out where the remaining cards are likely to be. Don’t be tricked by the fact that horses live and act in the moment. Remember they have trump cards from past experiences that may be played at any given time. As a trainer, it is your job, to get the horse to lay those cards down when you want to see them, and not the other way around." -- Makers Mark Secretariat Center blog
His favorite trump card is backing. I'm sure we all remember this beauty of a disobedience. (Side note. Re-watching this video slapped me in the face with the realization of how far Pig and I have both come this summer/fall. Training, muscling, understanding. Wow. Just, wow.) Back in the day, Guinness would use backing as the ultimate evasion. Gleefully, he'd flip me the horsey bird, and stomp backwards with reckless (and honestly, quite sophomoric) abandon. Sometimes he'd get so involved that we would stomp backwards through fences, across entire arenas, or in circles at the trot (with every 3rd step being a mini-rear, my favorite!). The only way to stop his crazed backwards march was to let go of the reins completely, and even then the ride was often over. Once he was in backing mode, any amount of stress sent him reeling backwards.
When we started to really get down to the gritty parts of training the basics, I started to dread backing. I would never ask for it. Any motion to back by Pig was greeted by a quick forward boot, and a clarification of aids. Backing, I made it clear, was no longer allowed.
He got the message. Things went on, we've stopped having such dramatic arguments, preferring to disagree in a slightly less flamboyant manner (*ahem*). In fact, he hasn't had a backing episode in months, and I forgot about backing completely. Until—