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Why your personal space matters... I see too many folks dragging their horse into their left shoulder blade.
This often comes from a horse dragging on the lead rope, which may not seem bad when walking straight, but it becomes obvious when a turn is made.
So ask yourself this:
How often do you check-in with the horse before you make a turn to assess how soft the horse is in their response to pressure with the lead rope?
How often do you notice if you grip with your fingers tighter on the rope as you make a turn?
Does your horse get heavier on the rope as a turn progresses? Is your horse looking the opposite way from the direction you are turning?
Does your horse change their energy during the turn?
Do you offer the horse to think through and then move around the turn in quarter sections?
If your horse offers something unwanted to you stop and address it, or wait and "fix it" later?
Every moment with the horse is an opportunity to refine the clarity and specificity of the Conversation. It isn't "about" the turn itself, but rather a scenario that allows you to assess clearly the interaction and address any unwanted thoughts or movement.
The more intention you have during the seemingly insignificant moments, the more your horse learns to mentally with you, allowing for a physical reasonableness, no matter what may arise.
I balance between working with a horse both on the lead rope and loose.
In this scenario, with Pardner the goal is for him to address when I ask him to think, then move with intention.
It is an opportunity for him to think through his options, try something, perhaps let it go if I ask him to, and then to be willing to try something else.
I'm looking to see if he gets stuck on a thought, or if he has the ability to address me, if he can pause when asked to stop or if he has to leave to sort himself out.
In the end, he "happens" to be asked to step into a tire cutout. But the focus was not about the task, rather the Quality of the Conversation, that then allowed the horse to "find" the specific task presented.
I don't want conditioned or patternized responses from the horse. I want him to be interested in participating and willing to try. Is the about getting him to be obedient? No. It is creating a scenario where we can practice the Conversation together which will apply to any future scenario with him, whether from the ground or while I'm in the saddle.
How often do you "make" your horse stay? I don't. I often get asked about how I work with horses and when folks see pictures of videos of the horse(s) offering to stay without fleeing when in an open field. I thought I'd share this video of Chance. He came to me as a 15-year old that was deemed "psycho" by the two previous trainers that sent him home.