Bella offered me levade a few years ago and I wasn’t brave enough to take it then. I’ve often regretted that snap decision so, when she offered it to me again today, I didn’t make the same mistake twice!
When I was training her to do Spanish Walk, after teaching her to hold out one leg at a time, when I first asked her to lift them alternately she knew I wanted her to do something that involved both front legs and did what looked to me like a very respectable levade. I thought about clicking it but she was only 6 and worries about it maybe encouraging her to rear under saddle put me off. She tried it once more then realised that it wasn’t what I wanted her to do and abandoned the idea. At the time I thought there would be another chance when she was older and I was more sure of my ability to control the behaviour but she never offered it again – until today!
When I tie her up in the yard Bella doesn’t like it if I walk away from her towards the yard gateway. She doesn’t mind me dissapearing into the tackroom or a stable but she doesn’t like me leaving the yard when she’s tied up. Usually she just stamps her feet, snorts, fidgets and throws her head around a bit but today, when someone called me away, Spring must have been in the air and she did all of that followed by a really smart looking levade. I tongue clicked and raced back to give her a treat (luckily I had some in my pocket). I’d been some distance away and wasn’t sure she’d heard the click so I got a clicker and more treats from the tackroom and tried walking towards the gate again.
It worked everytime to begin with. She lowers herself right back onto her hocks and lifts her forehand into what looks to me to be a really classic levade, and once she looked like she was going to capriole and kick back from the levade. I was really impressed!!
I thought that once she started to calm down and think she might lose the energy she needs for the movement, and it did take a little more of a wait after the first few clicks but she had understood and began to offer the levade in a much more considered fashion. I’m trying to put this on cue as quickly as possible and quickly added an upward gesture with my hands and the word ”up” to my cue of walking towards the gate, in the hope that I can quickly get the behaviour without having to tie her up and leave her! I must get some photos.
Could there ever be an easier, lazier way of training levade?!!! I LOVE clicker training and Bella is a Dales Superstar!!!
One day I want to do displays with her and our logo is going to be ’Dales Dare to be Different!’