For those of you that are unfamiliar with the term ponying as it pertains to horse training, let me explain. I will take my seasoned gelding Pi and put a western saddle on him and then take Eclipse in his rope halter and I will lead him while riding Pi. So what this does is help Eclipse follow a feel and move off halter pressure. The trick is when I walk Pi forward I dally the lead rope around the saddle horn and if Eclipse is not walking forward off of light pressure he then pulls against Pi who weighs 1,200 lbs. as appose to me (and you thought I was going to say my weight:). This is an effective way to win the leading game. I tacked up Pi, haltered Eclipse and headed to the arena to see how this would go.
We started at a walk with Eclipse off the left side of Pi. Initially pressure from the lead rope caught both Eclipse and Pi by surprise. I encouraged Pi to move on ignoring the pull on the saddle. As Eclipse realized he was not going to win the tug of war, he started moving off at a walk with Pi. Once this was fairly consistent we moved things up to a trot. The faster speed was more of a chalenge for Eclipse because I had never asked him to lead off at a trot. By this time Pi was getting the hang of what we were doing. The more Eclipse would pull on the saddle the more effort Pi would put into moving forward. In a few minutes Eclipse was learning to mirror Pi's speed with little pressure on the lead rope. I changed sides and to my surprise it took longer to for Eclipse to respond willingly off the other side of Pi. When Eclipse finally folded and followed willingly on the new side it was time to ride.
I stepped from Pi's saddle into Eclipse's, adjusted the lead rope into reins, played with some foot control then went off at a trot. As I get to know Eclipse better he does enjoy moving his feet as well as calling the shots. We picked up where we left off last time we rode working on steering at the trot. Now instead of arguing about where we are going, Eclipse is trying to guess where I am going next and turning early. Getting a different responce to the same thing on the next ride is always a good sign even if it is not the right answer. It tells you that your horse is putting effort into trying to figure things out. As we moved up to the canter for the first time I played with steering on a circle. He still perfers the left lead over the right, but will pick up the right with some encouragement. Another successful ride down.