What's Going on in This Picture

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Here's a picture from a training walk with Smitty that will be best understood with some context added to it.

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We're headed across a parking area, toward the barn, and Smitty's been doing an excellent job of walking straight, on a slack lead, at my speed and pace (note that we even have matching "front legs" here.)

Suddenly, over to the right of the frame, where Smitty's left ear is pointed, are some of the other horses, freshly up from the pasture. He's got his left eye rolled over in that direction too, and he's raised his head to take in a better look.

Not the prettiest picture.

But here's the great thing: ?Smitty is maintaining enough emotional control to watch the distraction, and still "stick with the program."

?Yes, his attention is leaking out over to his left, and the unexpected sight of other horses ("the herd!"). ?Yes, he has "come out of frame" (put his head up) to deal with it. Ideally, we would not want this.

But this, of course, is a baby, so even though he's being "looky," he's keeping his cool about it, and remembering his lessons about leading.?Within another stride, Smitty's?head comes back down, ?his ear is tipped back toward me, and we are on to the next thing. The diversion is more like a blip on the screen, and Smitty ultimately stays more mentally hooked to me than than he does to those other horses.


This is one of my best training moments with Smitty so far. It tells me a lot about his mind, and ultimate trainability. It tells me that he's developing an ability to deal with distractions--certainly a good thing if he's ever going to go off our place and be OK with the unfamiliar.

(And somehow, I sense that he may be traveling.)