Now I want you to take one last step – to focus on Creativity.
The previous Challenges have been set as individual components; but a lot of the time we need to use them together. These Challenges have expanded your skill set and tool box tools so that you can expand your training tools.
I will go through all the Challenges now with you, but I want you to see what else you can do to branch out from any exercise with your horse.
You may come up with your ideas, or here are some below. There are many videos with further content in them on the Membership Videos. Use the search bar for something that interests you and take a look. (You can search for key words like “Clarity”; “Brace”; “Rein positions”; “Lateral work” etc.)
Observation: Observe all of your horses and how they interact. When you are in the paddocks or yards, spend a little more time out there understanding all of their bubbles. Start to be creative with your horses – try new things – find the spots they like to be scratched. If you see tension in the herd or your horse, see if your horse will follow you to safety, working on your leadership skills and decision making. Think of the different ways out there that you can reduce your horses tension and help them to feel better. Show some interest in what they are interested in.
Distracting & Feel: Distracting a hard thought that is a little angry with the saddle blanket; help a horse to get onto a horse float. When you offer a feel, start to expand your horses balance and understanding with it. Experiment with lifting and lowering different rein positions. Use feel to guide your horse out better when you lunge it. Think of all the different braces your horses has, not just forwards and backwards, and use feel with the distraction of the flag to unlock some of those braces.
Back Up: Once your horse is soft, you can try moving your horses shoulders across by pushing across with the rope. Try putting a little yield in the hip through some indirect rein (be careful not to be going fast though when you practise this). See how slow you can go. See how smooth you can start and stop the back up. Is your horse comfortable when you push to go faster? Can your horse change it’s head position whilst backing up?
Leading Past the Shoulder: Is your horse equally comfortable leading past you on both eyes? As they are leading past, you can ask them to lead around you in a small circle. Can you tip them softly into the inside so that they move their hindquarter out softly? If they are leading past you softly in a straight line, can you use that straight line to help create different circle sizes around you? Can you use this leading past to help your horse to learn to lunge better?
Working from the hip: Both Leading Past the Shoulder and Working from the Hip should have developed a natural flow. There are a lot of positions from in front of the shoulder to behind the hip that are good to develop more balance and performance, especially when it comes to turns and body control. So from in front of their shoulder to the whither you can work on moving their shoulders out with an inside rein by gently lifting the rein/ rope half way down their neck, then pushing it gently against their neck. This helps to yield their shoulders to the outside. If you were working from an inside bend, if you were to lift the rein up behind the whither but keep it in the middle of their spine this should start to yield your horses hips. Back at the hip is a great position to take a feel on the rein and get your horse thinking to the inside and when they are thinking there, if you start to walk backwards and draw them backwards you, you may start to see your horse do a turn on their hind quarter. Try and just experiment with different positions. Just bear in mind that it is important that before you do it, your horse is at a nice flowing stage.
Transitions: The slow-fast walk can be a spring board for a lot of your lateral work and various rein positions that can yield your horse and different parts of their body. You will start to understand how much pressure from your leg is needed to get different impulsion responses. Can you go from a any speed in the walk to a trot? From the trot, can you walk up the steps quickly and down the steps quickly? Can you get from the top step to the bottom step in one or two strides? Can you go from the slowest trot to the fastest walk smoothly? This will require a change in gait, then a speed up because the walk will be faster than the trot. Can you start to understand how much acceleration you will need to get a calm canter transition from a jog or a walk?
You can start to get creative as you are doing a slow walk, using different rein positions to get balanced turns when they are with you.
As you advance and gain in confidence, your horses confidence and understanding has to be coming along with you.
Take your time. Don’t rush. It is better that your horse does one thing right (they understand it) than lots of things.
Don’t try all of these. We don’t want you to undo the connection work you have done.
It is just about being creative and finding out how these lessons have helped to prepare your horse to do other things.