PostHeaderIcon Cisco and the Two-Legged Jump

This is a task for the horse in the Level 4 Liberty Test: Jump Over an Obstacle with the Two Front Legs and then Sidepass Over the Obstacle Toward the Human.  (“Liberty” is the human on the ground with the horse loose…no halter or rope attaches to the horse.)

This task is one that you have to sign your name and attest that your horse did this.  It is not a task to video.  Sadly, one has to attest with their signature that this has been done.  I could lie….sigh.

You start this task with a halter and rope, it just doesn’t start out at liberty.  Doing it at liberty is an incredible feat.  Cisco did this for me last winter.  I can attest truthfully that he did it, and he did it at liberty (maybe twice).  But this summer, I have asked him to repeat this tremendous task and it has not happened.  What if someone important in the Parelli world came up to me and asked me to prove that Cisco could jump over an obstacle with his front legs…and then we failed to do it.  I believe this has to be accomplished so that Cisco understands what I want instead of  I got lucky and he did it a couple of times.  I hate having to be truthful!

Here is how Cisco thinks:  Cisco is a “what do you want me to do?”  Move 5 steps, 10 steps, trot…what?”  Susan replies with her body language, “Cisco, I just want you to move three steps forward.”     Cisco replies with his body, “Three steps?  Wouldn’t five steps be better.  I am anxious to please you.”  Susan, “sigh”.

A jump obstacle that is too low is too insignificant to jump over.  Cisco walks over short obstacles.
Cisco’s desire to please and his past development with me makes him think that a jump obstacle that is high enough, like a barrel, needs to be jumped over with both the front and back legs.  I have not found the perfect signal to get his body stopped when the front legs have jumped.

I have placed my body in different places and given him the signal to jump.  Cisco’s front and back legs fly over the barrel.  Or he tries to step over a barrel with his front leg and then gets stuck.  It is difficult to step over a barrel.  We experiment with my “ask” until I get frustrated.  My dreams at night is how do I communicate.  I decide to collapse my upper body as he is going over with his front legs.  Nope.  That night in bed, we dream about it more.  Ok, we will start doing circles with my upper body collapsing so he will figure out that means stop.  And that is what we did for a couple of sessions before a trip, a summer cold and horrid heat intervened.  It has been nearly a month since I last played with and rode Cisco.

In the arena during our warmup ground play, I asked Cisco to jump over barrels.  He jumped with his two front legs and stopped.  Good Lordy!  My body did nothing to tell him to stop.  The body was in the normal position to encourage Cisco’s traveling forward.  I was in shock!  Cisco looked at me with his ears pricked forward. Truly, he was very thrilled to have done this and awaited his praise.  I went to Cisco and praised him.  I rubbed him.  I told him “Good boy!”  Then I asked him to side pass to me over the barrels and he did.

I’m fairly certain that Cisco has thought a lot about the barrel front leg jumping and figured out what I wanted.  It was nearly a month ago.  He tried his theory out this evening and I rewarded him.

We did not jump over any obstacles after that.  I got on and rode him.  He was sensational.  I smiled during the entire ride.  (I might have cursed once when my leg illegally braced when asking for a canter, but that doesn’t count.)  Two amazing things he did this night.  He went from a walk to a very slow smooth fox trot.  Normally, he anxiously wants to please me and the anxiety makes him go faster.  A faster fox trot is a bumpy process and it might even be a real trot which we call “hard trot”.  It causes Susan’s body to be bumped up and down.  The other amazing thing he did was wait for me to give the canter signal instead of canter when my body was preparing to give the canter signal.

I smiled and told Jenny during the lesson, “I love this horse!  He is the perfect horse for me!”  Jenny smiled too and agreed with me!

I’m probably going to have a little trouble now telling Cisco that I want him to jump over the barrel with both front and back legs.  He probably now thinks that jumping over with the front legs is what I want.  I am still going to work on my upper body collapsing when I want him to stop.  No matter.

Cisco is the perfect horse for me.  I love this non-verbal communication process between the predator human species and the prey animal horse species.

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