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Alternative Horsemanship Remote Horse Coach: Two Conversations
Yesterday I posted a video clip of working with two horses having two separate conversations. One was being asked to circle. It occurred to me that I should share my interpretation of a circle.
Lunging... driving with a whip/stick/flag/etc... flee... high rate of energy... tension... "making"... stiffness... counter bent... should not be a part of the horse's movement while on a "circle."
The actual shape of the circle should be round, balanced and with the horse's inside shoulder stepping towards the direction of movement, without the horse "falling-in" towards the human.
The horse should be looking where he is moving.
The horse should be able to follow the feel of the rope and offer the "shape" the human is asking for without heaviness or resistance.
Most folks drive their horses nuts with circles because they have a misconception of what "it" should look like or the purpose of them.
Many horses have learned to avoid critique by offering light circles, yes, there is no tension on the rope, but there is no softness in the brain or body.
Folks are in a rush to move through the gaits in each direction, frequently causing auto-pilot from the horse and not have honest conversations, which in my mind defeats the point of a circle.
Then the person attempts to ride, and finds out the horse has more "stuff" to sort out, and the human wonders why the circle didn't help. Because it was a conditioned response and not a thoughtful conversation.
Circles should be a tool, not a crutch. But to have it be quality, preparations need to be made before teaching a horse to think around and then move around a circle. The ability to directing the horse's thought, influencing his energy levels, addressing how he feels about physical and spatial pressure.
The circle can be a preface to many other conversations. The circle can be taught in quarter sections to the horse, wherein they need to be able to differentiate between think, step, check-in and be available for further guidance, no different than what occurs during a ride.