Shawn Seabrook led a round pen demonstration on Sunday afternoon to discuss the importance of groundwork leading to performance. Working with a two-year-old palomino gelding, Seabrook bridled and then worked on teaching the horse to give to the bit, cross over and back up.
“You want to teach your horse to be soft and, once you have it, you want to maintain that softness,” Seabrook said during his session. To develop this softness, Seabrook emphasized the importance of giving your colt when they achieve the desired result. “The little rewards are huge and they build the foundation for your training,” he said. “By rewarding for small things – like one crossover step – you’ll help your horse to learn and to retain what you’re teaching him.”
Working on one side at a time, Seabrook used rein pressure in a lateral direction to encourage the gelding to tip his nose and give to the bit. To teach the crossover, he directed the rein upwards and he shifted his body direction forward, to encourage forward momentum.
Throughout the session, Seabrook noted the great improvement in the young gelding. “This horse is getting to be finger light,” he said. “When we first started, I was using maybe 50 pounds of pressure, now it’s got to be at about two. This horse is getting to be very, very light.”