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What exercises on the ground for collection?
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AdamTill
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 Posted: Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 02:57 pm
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Take my advice, and don't bother with the crossunder pattern. Year and years ago when I was still smitten with the "bitless is best" thought pattern, I spent a lot of time improving the release of a bridle like this.

Replaced the piece under the chin with yacht cord (new one on left, old on right)



Connection details:



Details of rein side:

Finish:



Know what? Still didn't work worth a darn. Though I know now that a proper sidepull would have been a much better option, when I switched my horse at the time over to a large ring, d-butt, french link bit, you could almost hear him say "oh THAT'S what you were rambling on about!". Communication was much clearer with the bit then in the other rig.
My advice - don't bother.

Adam: The man who makes these is certainly not 'good'. Your contribution here is otherwise of value. -- Dr. Deb

 

Last edited on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 08:17 pm by DrDeb

Dorothy
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 Posted: Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 03:00 pm
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I think that I am re-inventing your wheel, Adam, and coming to the same conclusion!

I believe that the XXXX idea is to spread the pressure from the reins and the hand (!!) over a number of points / areas of the head. The downside of this is that it is not precise, and the horse does not get a clear signal. The best it can do is attenuate misguidedly heavy hand aids. It is not a refined tool.


Dorothy

Not so, Dorothy. The man who makes these bridles has one MAIN object, and that is to have more dough to retire on. They are not suitable for anyone interested in horsemanship -- end of discussion. If you find clients or students using them, tell them that they have the SAME utility as the running martingale: great for firing up the barbecue.

The reason why many people are attracted by or beguiled into buying patent gimmicks of all types is that they are not succeeding with their horses. Their animals brace and pull. The real reason for this is that the person has not learned how to use their own hands. If they read here, they will be taught that -- and they have a chance of learning it and putting it into practice too. But only if they stop larking off after gimmicks, hoping that the gimmick, rather than horsemanship, is what is going to do it for them.

The first step in abandoning gimmicks is to abandon all ambition, all goals, most especially competitive goals. You drop that and then the field becomes open for the horse to start showing you.

The first step in learning to use your hands is to learn to turn whenever he braces. So you need to learn what a braced neck, jaws, and tongue feel like and stop accepting that as 'normal' or even desirable. Unbelievable, but many dressage competitors, for example, and dressage wannabees too who are not good enough to win at a show but who would like to do that, actually believe that 'better contact with the bit' is what happens when the horse braces its neck and then leans forward onto the bit. Harry Whitney calls this 'the horse constantly trying to push the bit out of the way'.

So you turn whenever he braces, the instant he braces, and you stay in that turn, holding the inside rein with enough pressure to have some meaning to the horse, until he slows his pace, relaxes his neck and jaws. And when he does this then, no matter what direction you happen to be facing (assuming you are in an arena), then you drop the reins to slack and let him go.

If he's deep into bracing, it won't be three seconds until he braces again. You just repeat, and keep repeating until the message starts to sink in. It is very difficult for a horse to maintain a brace in neck or jaws if he is in a tight enough turn. How tight the turn needs to be depends upon the horse, the degree of brace, and the gait you are in/speed you are moving at the time.

Turning defeats the loss of balance which bracing implies, too.

Once you get to where you can address the reins -- which means 'take a feel of his tongue' -- without having him instantly brace up, you can begin your real work together. You do 99% of this at the walk, where losses of balance are less frequent and where the total speed and energy do not so much induce the horse to brace.

At the walk, you twirl the head. You invent every pattern in the arena you can possibly think of to do this -- adding where possible objects as well that you might be able to turn around, such as barrels or cones or poles.

You mix this with untracking, which is the master exercise. You untrack a few steps so that his haunches either go around his forehand or else he leg-yields a few steps -- on the lightest rein you can do, that still communicates. No heavy outside contact please; you must permit him to go into the outside rein, the inside hind leg drives him into the outside rein. Let the shoulder bulge out a little; you are really not going to teach him thereby to bolt through his shoulder. Only if he is confirmed in this evasion and you know it beforehand, do you require outside rein at this stage.

You make a quarter-turn on the forehand and then proceed at a walk. You might, for example, go down the track on the left hand, halt, turn on the forehand to the left one-quarter, which will face you to the centerline; then proceed straight forward at a walk until you reach othe opposite track; then turn on forehand one-quarter again to the right, and proceed.

Do zig-zags of two or three steps leg-yield up the centerline. Go two right, two straight, two left, two straight. If you went from 'C', when you get to 'A' drop the reins to the buckle and permit the horse to walk freely for twice as long time as it took you to go from 'C' to 'A'.

Back the horse frequently, one step at a time.

Ask the steps to shorten and lengthen and shorten again at the walk, with the minimum possible address of the reins.

You do this for forty minutes, and there is not a horse alive that will not have forgotten entirely that he needed to brace his neck. Only when you go back to grabbing up with both hands, trying to shove and push him forward, demanding that he 'track up', riding all the time above the tempo the horse can actually handle and stay in balance, and using the outside rein like a screwvise -- when you go back to that, when you go back to not caring or not feeling every tiny loss of balance -- then by golly, he'll need to go back to defending himself.

See to your own riding! -- Dr. Deb


Last edited on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 08:33 pm by DrDeb

Seglawy Jedran
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 Posted: Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 05:26 am
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Dear Adam: Kudos to you for showing in that picture undeneath the horses jaw, where the reins criss-cross- just where  that design falls apart and becomes icky. With the reins set that way not only do they not release, that is bind, but also they don't twirl the head- they instead twist the jaw to the outside.. Your photo helps me to see just what one doesn't want to do..
Thanks Again
Bruce Peek

AdamTill
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 Posted: Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 02:58 pm
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>3. Design the cavesson with a deformable "memory plastic" inside of the noseband. >The stuff should have the working qualities of lead -- without the weight. I want to >be able to shape it with my hands so that it will exactly conform to the shape of my >horse's nose, but then I want it also not to deform, to keep its shape, even when >the horse might lean on it during longeing. Maybe it could be formed of something >you had to heat up to shape it, and then when it cooled it would hold its form. If I >were doing it this way, I'd go right ahead and have the naked plastic with no >padding. Then in the box with the directions, I'd have a roll of padding, not too thick >but like moleskin, that you could then Velcro onto the plastic noseband. A lot of >padding is not needed, you see, when the noseband fits exactly -- because when it >fits exactly, it does not ride around. Goes without saying also that the plastic >noseband would have good-quality reinforced terrets with rings at 5 positions: >center top nose, directly to either side, and halfway between on both sides.

>Well, Adam -- here you go -- maybe you can design us a prototype for something >like this! I'd love to try it out and work for its R&D, because such a tool sure is >needed.

Something like a polypropylene rod bent over and welded back onto itself would work. Poly is thermoformable, so it should be fine (the battery boxes in my electric car conversion will be heat formed poly, for example).

You wouldn't be able to use a material that you could hand form because then when you used it on a sweaty hot horse, it would distort if he leaned on it. With the right thermo-poly you could drop it in a tub of boiling water and then mold it with gloves, or use a $15 paint stripper heat gun with a gentle touch (I used a heat gun to alter the fit of my ski boots - same concept).

Might not need to be bare plastic if you covered it in harness leather, since the added oils in that style of leather should hold up to the occasional dunk in water.

At any rate, while I have a great harnessmakers text, my leatherworking skills aren't quite up to the job yet (after the saddle project they might be). Would be a good project for next winter.

>Adam: The man who makes these is certainly not 'good'. Your contribution here is otherwise of value. -- Dr. Deb

You're quite right. Didn't want to refer to him by name, and I forgot that irony doesn't translate perfectly to the written word.

Dorothy
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 Posted: Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 06:03 pm
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Hello Dr Deb,

My apologies for the faux pas in naming that bridle, I'm afraid I got carried away.

Thank you for describing the process of removing braceyness - that is very interesting, and something that I will work with.

When you turn a horse that is bracing, at what height do you hold your hand? - I have seen you point out hands at navel level, is this still the level and direction of the rein aid in this situation?

Thank you, Dorothy

kindredspirit
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 Posted: Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 06:42 pm
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Dorothy wrote:
When you turn a horse that is bracing, at what height do you hold your hand? - I have seen you point out hands at navel level, is this still the level and direction of the rein aid in this situation?

Thank you, Dorothy


Hi Dorothy, I know you asked Dr Deb this question but in reading her thoughts on braces, she said:  

"So you turn whenever he braces, the instant he braces, and you stay in that turn, holding the inside rein with enough pressure to have some meaning to the horse,"

I think that really does answer your question, you do enough to have meaning to the horse and the hand at navel level might not be enough for a particular horse, so you adjust your presentation until there is meaning and that involves some experimentation.  When I first started working with Harry and he had me working on what Dr Deb described, my hand might have raised up pass my shoulders in order to get a response from the horse who was stuck.   I know mechanics are important and there are certain things you don't want to do with the reins, but I suspect you are savvy enough to play around with this until you find what is meaningful to your horse.

A couple of years ago we coined this process which included untracking the hind and bringing the shoulders through, the "whole rigamarole" because a novice rider was riding her very worried TWH and she asked Harry: do I need to just get the turn or do the "whole rigamarole"?  For a while she did the whole thing because her horse could not let go of his thought and worry and be able to be directed, otherwise the horse wanted to careen around the pen. 

Have fun experimenting, I think you willl find these ideas/tools Dr Deb has offered to be very effective. (As long as you can recognize the change coming through, or your horse's try.)

I have attached a photo of the rider working on getting this horse to let go, so you could see where her hand is at that moment.

Kathy  

 

 

Attachment: the+whole+rigamarole.jpg (Downloaded 949 times)

Last edited on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 06:53 pm by kindredspirit

DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 08:13 pm
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Kindred, the photo you show exemplifies exactly how I DO NOT recommend you use your hands. You are never, ever to do the following things that you can see the rider in that photo doing:

1. Raise the hand so high or pull so hard that you twist the horse's nose off plumb. The nose is NEVER to be allowed or encouraged to rise to the side.

2. Cross the manebed with the inside hand. Your left hand stays absolutely strictly on the left side of the horse, and the right hand stays on the right side. They are NEVER to cross to the other side under any circumstances.

The hands are to be carried at the level of the rider's navel, with a 90-degree or near 90-degree bend in the elbow when at "rest". If you have a horse that is stiff and/or green, you use an opening rein to explain to the horse very clearly what you want. You absolutely NEVER want what the rider in the photo is asking for -- that the horse twist himself up. This is horrible stuff that is characteristic of the very well self-advertised gurus and their schools that we do not recommend. This would be one major reason we don't recommend them: THEY DO NOT KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING, AND THEY WILL TEACH YOU TO HARM YOUR HORSE.

So you use an opening rein, which means you straighten your inside arm and you pull the rein to the side. Do not deform or leave your seat to do this, and don't lean over; just open your arm and hold it there. As the horse begins to comply, your hand then comes back closer and closer toward the "batter's box" in front of the navel.

As the horse progresses and learns to follow a feel, your hands will almost never need to leave the batter's box; you just turn your wrist or squeeze your fingers and he will follow that feel and even add to it. -- Dr. Deb

kindredspirit
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 Posted: Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 11:28 pm
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Hi Dr. Deb, I am so glad to be able to exemplify something lol! You are right, this is not a good example. Can you remove the picture?  This is a novice rider who was with Harry at the time the photo was taken. He was guiding her through the exercise.  I have heard Harry ask a participant to bring their hands out to the side as you have described but sometimes in the heat of the moment the rider can only hear so much. I agree with all the points about where the reins and hands should be and I was taught not to cross the mane etc, etc.

Even though this nose is off plumb and the reins are not being used correctly, this horse was pretty stuck in his thoughts and way of going.  He could put himself in a bind pretty fast before letting go of a thought.

>This is horrible stuff that is characteristic of the very well self-advertised gurus and their schools that we do not recommend. This would be one major reason we don't recommend them: THEY DO NOT KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING, AND THEY WILL TEACH YOU TO HARM YOUR HORSE.<

As previously mentioned this was a rider working with Harry and is one moment of time on a horse that was very braced and mentally stuck. 

Kathy aka Kindredspirit


DrDeb
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 Posted: Thu Mar 4th, 2010 12:32 am
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No, Kindred, I didn't previously remove the picture because it is such an absolutely perfect image of what NEVER to do, and I want lots of people to see it.

Harry teaches nobody to do what this girl is doing. She IMPORTED this particular brand of ignorance to Harry's clinic, having learned it from someone from the school of riding that we deplore. This particular way of twisting the horse up is quite characteristic of that school.

YOU need to learn to recognize it, and so does everyone else here.

That the horse was having trouble letting go of his ideas is no reason to twist him up, and does not excuse it. Harry, I absolutely understand, had enough to do just to keep the rider on the correct side of the horse at all times (i.e., on his back), and it is very possible for a photo to be taken at a clinic at a point in the process of instruction before Harry would have had a way to begin changing this part of the student's mis-understanding.

Nevertheless, you have hurt nobody by posting the image, since you blacked out the person's face. If she is reading here, very well; she knows who she is, and can take this as her opportunity to hear it loud and clear that she needs to make a change.

When Chery Dodgen says in the thread on 'lessons learned at a clinic' that I told her she was cheating, it was because Cheryl was doing a version of this that I said that to her. For another characteristic of the school that we deplore is that, not only do they teach this misuse of the reins, they build on it and "refine" it so that at a later stage we see them dragging their horses through leg-yields by aiming, or actually crossing, the inside hand over the mane-bed. This is also sometimes taught in 'western' riding lessons, but it is wrong and damaging no matter who the person got it from. So I was having Cheryl ride around the group whose horses were standing bunched up in the middle, because those horses act like a magnet. Then I was asking her to leg-yield out toward the rail, away from them. She responded by trying to DRAG her horse out by means of her inside hand, and I told her 'you are cheating -- use your LEG.' A big problem a lot of riders have is that their legs are dead but they do not realize they are dead.

So another reason that the person in the picture above is having trouble getting her horse to give up its ideas, and pay attention to what she wants him to focus on, and go in that direction and hence toward its birdie, is that she's doing 100% of whatever she is doing -- with her arms. Note how 'stuck' the horse's inside hind leg is. If you watch 'em, you'll see that the followers of the school that we deplore 100% of the time are getting their horse's inside hind leg to step under the body shadow by pulling on the horse's head. They do this in ground school, they do it when they're longeing, and they do it under saddle.

And that's what this girl is trying to do -- and will succeed in doing: for if you pull on a horse's head hard enough, he will indeed eventually have to move that inside hind leg. And when he does move it, he will hop stiffly and then go right back to planting it -- and as a consequence not being able to turn loose of his ideas. TO TURN LOOSE -- DURCHLASSIGKEIT -- covers much more than just the physical. If instead the rider had control of the inside hind leg, the horse would have a LOT less trouble getting his brain loose and moving his ideas to where they should be.

The bottom line here is that we are all apes -- we want to swing off those reins by means of our arms, and our little old legs just hang down there like a chimpanzee, with nothing to do while he hangs off a vine eating a banana. -- Dr. Deb

 

Allen Pogue
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 Posted: Mon Mar 8th, 2010 02:34 pm
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Relaxed, Ready, Willing

Hello Dr. Deb, et.at.

     In carefully re-reading the previous reply on this thread I was reminded by the importance of the following statement.

 "So I was having Cheryl ride around the group whose horses were standing bunched up in the middle, because those horses act like a magnet".

 Years ago I acquired a copy of book about "the finer points of riding" written by Henry Winmalen. It was a fast easy read due to the writer's talent for clarity and succintness, and so I felt I understood what the writer was saying. Six months after much practice I re-read a twelve word sentence and had one of those "Ah-ha" moments. Now I felt I had a much better understanding of the not so hidden meaning. Three years later I re-read the same sentence and sure enough a universe of new implications were obvious.

 In another message Dr Deb has reminded us that the way she learned to use the flag is to create a "vacuum" which the horse chooses to fill with his presence.

So in one instance horses were the magnet (for lack of a better term) in another it was a 'flag' . In a larger sense it can simply be the opportunity to move in a way that has been encouraged by instilling a work ethic.

 The attached picture should show a horse that was relaxed, ready and willing to go to work and when I got out of his way he became round, self-propelled and self-carrying. He seemed to truly enjoy the opportunity to move in a way that had been encouraged little-by-little over the course of the last couple years.

 The picture shows a delicate inward tip of his nose that he appears to be using  as part of his balancing act.

Allen

Attachment: Uno Liberty Pole.JPG (Downloaded 848 times)

DrDeb
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 Posted: Mon Mar 8th, 2010 08:39 pm
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Allen, I always interpret this type of head-tip and the expression accompanying it as being that the horse enjoys seeing, and is positively amazed and delighted to see, his own foot up there. It amuses them, like as if they forgot it was their foot and then suddenly remembered. They chuckle about it and that's part of their motivation for repeating it.

The most important thing you said in this post was 'he began performing freely when I got out of his way.' That's 99% of the challenge -- to figure out how and where and by what we are being in their way, and then get out of it. The horse almost always already knows what we want!

"He would an' only he could" --!

Cheers -- Dr. Deb

Helen
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 Posted: Mon Mar 8th, 2010 11:06 pm
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I watched a very interesting documentary the other day called The Wild Horse Redemption - about a program in a jail in which the inmates train wild mustangs for both their benefit and the horses. It was taped for me by a friend who knew I was interested in horse training and I watched it expecting to see many inappropriate methods being used - which indeed I did, for although the head trainer seemed to be a rather good horseman, he was not always good at explaining the things he did instinctively to his pupils.

Anyway, just about the most interesting part for me was a man who was openly scared of the horses, but wished to conquer his fear, so he took one on to train. The interesting part was that he had clearly been told to "drive the horse forward" around the roundpen with the whip he had been given. What the head trainer did without realising, though, and what the inmate was completely missing, was the use of body language rather than whip to motivate the horse around the circle. Where the head trainer would confidently step towards the horse, making the whip almost irrelevant, the inmate would wave the whip in the hope that it would move the horse away, while all the while accidentally making himself as small as he possibly could, and even stepping away from the horse. Of course he was surprised - and terrified - when the mustang turned and ran towards him to fill the "vacuum" he was creating with his aura.

I'm not sure if I am explaining this properly, but it was an "aha" moment for me in terms of getting big and small: where many of the inmates were putting too much pressure on the horses and not relieving it enough, this man was doing the opposite - getting confused because he did not realise how important his aura was compared to the whip, which he thought was all-important.

PS - Allen, what a gorgeous photo. You can tell both by the slack in the line and the horse's delighted smile that the head-tip is not indicative of tension at all.

Last edited on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 11:07 pm by Helen

DrDeb
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 Posted: Mon Mar 8th, 2010 11:16 pm
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Yes, Helen, excellent. It's more often with women than men that we see the "shrinking" that you describe but it is possible with anybody.

Next time you go out to free school your horse, pay attention to where your crotch is with respect to your breastbone. If you pull your crotch behind your breastbone, you are creating the vacuum. If you keep it level-plumb on line with the breastbone, that will read neutral-to-positive. If you push the crotch ahead, it says to the horse "you better move and I mean it right now".

The more you push your crotch forward, in most cases the more you will also lift your chest. The picture to have if you want the livestock to move away from you is that of a matador -- look how he stands up there, what posture he has. The matador does not hang the muleta-cape out at the end of his arms and retreat his crotch, hoping that the muleta is going to do the job just as the convict was hoping the whip would do the job. Even when the matador bends at the waist in order to extend his arm and have the bull charge through the cape, you'll see the matador's lower back rounded and his loins coiling.

And this, you notice, shifts us directly into the same terminology we use when describing collection in the horse. When the horse collects from the rear, then he is ready to move with full athletic competence, energy, and spring. You dance the dance you want them to dance -- but first of course, you yourself have to know the dance. Your observations show me that you are learning it very well -- Dr. Deb

Pauline Moore
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 Posted: Tue Mar 9th, 2010 11:36 am
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. . . and not just horses and people, dogs also will lift and arch their short necks in collection, to express joy and maybe humour.

That's a wonderful photo, Allen, thank you.  I wish I'd had a camera handy many years ago when playing with my TB gelding.  He'd had some feet problems so I was wanting him to stretch out and move as much as possible - I'd found the best way to motivate him to move well was in play.  Free within an arena, I'd run ahead of him for a few paces - he just could not resist the urge to catch up and then overtake me before I darted away to one side or u-turned back the other way.  After 10 or 15 minutes of this (while I was getting my breath back) he would inevitably start circling me, getting ever closer, taking on a posture identical to that I'd seen in my dogs when they play.    One foreleg would be extended straight and at the same time rotated in a small circle - the body was rounded, the neck arched, the nose tilted in towards me exactly as in Allen's photo.    It was easy to interpret this bodyshape as meaning 'this is so much fun, can we do some more?' as my dogs had taught me its meaning.    At the time I had a large dog, a ridgeback/shepherd cross who would take on that exact bodyshape whilst playing with either me or the other dog; his leg was extended and circled, neck raised and arched, snout vertical and tilted in.    It was fun for all of us - horse, dog and me.

Best wishes - Pauline

Jacquie
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 Posted: Wed Mar 10th, 2010 05:21 pm
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I have also observed how very important a role breath plays in the big/small game with horses when working the horse - either from the saddle or from the ground. 

I use the breath and body posture to lunge my horses. Many times only a little breath and posture work is enough to slow a horse down very quickly to a complete halt.

I use a combination of the following:

Projecting energy with strong outward breath, erect proud stance, head and shoulders up and body square to horses body or slightly angled to face in the direction of movement, stepping mostly forwards while horse in movement and having eye gaze up (looking mostly at head/neck/body height) I find moves horses forwards more.

Releasing horse from being 'driven forwards' by softer inward breath, lowered head, shoulders drooped, lowered eye gaze, (looking at knee height) stooping/submissive body posture if necessary held at 45 degree angle to horses body, placing body a little ahead of horses movement and looking in opposite direction of horses movement and stepping  more backwards at times slows my horses down very quickly.

If I need to I do use a sweeping or flicking a lunge whip towards their quarters if they are sluggish, or using a calming voice if they are hyper for some reason, but when things are working well, neither the voice or the whip are necessary at all - and it is lovely and peaceful! The wonderful thing is, all horses seem to totally understand this method without any need to be literally 'taught' -  they pick it up SO quickly - so it must be very clear to them what is being asked! That said, I never lunge without carrying a lunge whip, but I tuck it under my arm or direct it backwards and only use it if I have to.

I am sure many others on this list do these kinds of things too, to work their horses on the ground, but I wonder if there are there any other things like this that I can do to help with the on foot horse/human communications?

Jacquie


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