Training Tip: Challenge your Connection

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Once you have a good connection with your horse can you try connecting in different ways?

Why not try sitting down the whole session or standing up on something (stay safe or at liberty for this one) or get longer and longer ropes for distance work. If you are only used to using a 12′ line then try a 22′ one and if you use a 22′ line then maybe try finding a longer one. I know that once my own connection got better on longer ropes my Liberty work was better too.

Testing things is a great way to bring in variety to your play sessions and a great imagination is good too.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

 

 

Training Tips: “The Connection”

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Having a great connection with Mr Solly has been something we have worked on for a long time, it wasn’t always easy, it wasn’t always smooth and it wasn’t overnight.

The connection we have through that training has brought us trust, lightness, focus, flexibility, harmony and confidence together.

We use all the training we have together daily without even thinking about it, it is now a good muscle memory for us both (brain and body), safety through gateways, confidence and relaxation with ground work, liberty, agilty, riding and much more.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

 

Comfort Zone Training – part 1

In this blog category I am going to go through the steps of how I approach, retreat and re-approach with a sceptical horse into an unfamiliar environment. I call this ‘going out of our Comfort Zone’ and by doing that carefully we can retreat back into our normal safe haven and re-approach the scary place as often as we need to until it then becomes a part of our now bigger comfort zone.

I hope to show how I help my horse find relaxation and thereby confidence when we go to a place he, or I, am worried about. Everything will be done through ground work first, then a combo of ground and ridden work and hopefully more and more ridden work to show the progression of opening up our comfort zone.

Today was our first day and we worked on getting back our ‘ground work connection’ – which we had lost a bit because of me being away and not training for a while – through moving feet, mentally and physically being in the moment and trying to become harmonious in our movements together. Here is the video of the ground work.


What did I learn from this session?

Well, our connection was not bad at all really. he was pretty willing but his impulsion was low and he tried to avoid doing some things by putting in his own ‘fun bow’ move which he often uses to try to distract me from asking him to move more. Funnily enough the riding session that I didn’t manage to film due to the camera battery running low, was similar!! funny that!

 

What will I try in the next session?

From this first session I will now use consistency to do the same training techniques in the same area 3-7 times in a row. Each time, if all goes well, I will progress in some way, either by extending the CZ area a bit or upping the energy levels or working for a longer time….whatever it is will depend on how the horse OR I am feeling can be extended at that time. If things are a bit sticky or unconfident then I will do what I did the day before and always end on a good note. I take each day as a new opportunity to progress and prepare myself for that but I am not going to progress out of our CZ if things aren’t going well. On that note, if I feel unconfident with the riding side I may press through with gaining more CZ progress with ground work to at least not stagnate.

* Next session coming soon *

For more info on Comfort Zones go to the TRAINING TIP – ‘Stepping out of your Comfort Zone to Progress’
For more on horse thresholds go to the TRAINING TIP – ‘Horse Thresholds’

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liberty Challenge 10

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Beginners: start online in walk then trot
Intermediates: go to neck rope in walk or trot
Advanced: work at liberty in walk, trot or canter
Fun: try riding it (w/t/c)

Challenges Online/Liberty/Ridden:

  1. Front feet & back feet in hulahoops (or walk over)
  2. Trot over poles on tarp
  3. Trot/canter through scary corridor
  4. Jump
  5. Trot through weave pattern
  6. Transitions through narrow corridor (walk in/halt/backup/trot out)
  7. Walk/trot over bottle bank
  8. Walk/trot fig 8
  9. Walk/trot through curtain
  10. Trot through arch or jump hoop jump
  11. Sidepass over or near an obstacle
  12. Walk through water feature
  13. Ground tie (immobility/halt) and extreme familiarisation with objects around horse

 

Liberty with Solly

 

Ridden with Solly

 

Tips:
Try and test all the obstacles to make sure you and your horse know what to do at each one, make sure you reward for the slightest try and as you advance you do more with each obstacle, either stay longer, transitions or all at a higher gait throughout.

Once you know what to do with each obstacle then put them together as smoothly as possible as a course (if online then keeping a ‘smile’ in the rope as much as you can).

Set it up the best way for your area so it doesn’t need to be in this order or this shape.

Do not push your horse through or over things, accept what he gives you and teach him more as you go along. Repeat as often as you can for a horse that is a slow learner and make sure you mix it up often for a horse that gets bored quickly.

Remember it’s supposed to be fun….for you AND your horse 🙂

Shaping Space

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Moving to more refined requests with our horses is where we all want to be, using strategies such as ‘Undemanding Time’, ‘Mirroring Your Horse’, ‘Stick 2 Me’ and having ‘Awareness & Focus’ with ‘The Connection’ we should find that we are becoming more harmonious with our horses, the ‘dance’ is starting.

(Check all ‘titles’ above in previous ‘ARTICLES’)

How do we refine the moves we already know? How do we make non-personal, non-threatening requests to a horse?

I do it using a mental image of moving ‘Space’ rather than moving a horse’s body.  Here’s how I try to think of space between me and a horse:

1) SHARING SPACE: This is where I ask a horse to be close with me on a shared mutual path. Sometimes this may mean the horse is following me, sometimes I am following the horse but eventually I have found that we start being together in a mutual dance of understanding.  I use this sharing space method of connecting in my  ‘STICK 2 ME’ training which  is talked about in another article.

2) PROTECTING SPACE: This is where I set up and keep the space distance between me and my horse(s) as we walk or keeping the space that is around us within a herd situation.

If another horse comes up that I am not working with I will protect the space me and my horse are in from others and often when working with two horses at once I protect my space, the space of the horse to my left and also the one to my right individually so that there are no other herd dynamics going on between them and whilst they are with me they both know that I will protect their space so that we can all relax in a peaceful environment.

If horses of different levels in the herd hierarchy are working with me at one time I let them know I am alpha by protecting my own space well and they are all then on the next level down but none of them higher or lower than each other, just me above only, that way they can relax and listen to my requests without worrying about being moved by the other horse.

3) CLAIMING SPACE: If  the space I create with a horse is changed by that horse moving in to me, thereby taking my space, I reclaim the part I have lost. I also use this claim of space to ask for transitions, I claim the space behind them so that I am not telling the horse to move faster ‘or else’, I am just claiming the grazing under their back feet, this is less bossy and a way herd members move others without being dominant. Being aware of the space I set up at all  times helps make me mentally strong in the herd.

4) SHAPING SPACE: I try to get my own body to create a shape that I ask the horse to copy, once the space between us is understood a horse will very usually bend or move the way we ask and copy our own energy levels to remain synchronised in the herd ‘dance’. Working with this on the ground first helps both parties to create that shape and then recreate it when riding. Shaping space can get very refined, sometimes I ask the horse to just move one part slightly differently to create the shape needed for a move, such as moving the barrel just a small bit away from me to create a better arc in the whole of his body to help with turns and circles. This sort of shaping involves mentally and physically claiming the small area back from the horses space or bubble.

5) OPENING & CLOSING SPACE: I mentally open area’s that I would like the horse to go into and as those spaces open I close others mentally to shut off where I don’t want us to go. This can be refined and very specific in such things as gait, speed of gait, lateral moves but starts with just the basics of left, right, forward, stop and backup.

6) BLOCKING SPACE: I use a ‘block’ if a horse comes into my space without  asking or tries to take my space by walking into it. This does not mean I don’t allow horses to play or have their own ideas but sometimes with some horses we need to re-direct their thoughts to something we’re trying to teach them or to block and protect our space if they get high energy at an inappropriate time.

When using space shaping techniques I make sure that I check myself regularly to see if I am asking something of the horse that I am truly showing in my own body because if we don’t ask the right question or ask the question right in our thoughts and body then the result won’t be what we thought it would be. With new requests I tend to exaggerated my body movements to help my horse see the shape I’m making but once the horse understands that can quickly be refined into more elegant movements.

Also I use a mental image of me in a personal space ‘bubble’, the horse in its own personal space ‘bubble’ but those bubbles are touching when we’re connected and I can change that bubble diameter for draw/drive or to have the horse closer or further away. I know it may sound farfetched but if you work visually then having these kinds of pictures in your mind helps the connection as it defines the space you’re in better so that the horse can pick up on that intuitively. Once I’ve sorted this all in my brain it comes instinctually and I don’t have to mentally ‘think’ about it in such detail. My main thoughts would be on where we’re going, what gait and if we’re shaping correctly for the movement we’re doing also I’m constantly reminding myself of ‘what I am trying to achieve’ with each movement/shape.

Thinking on this ‘bubble’ connection we must not think of our horses running off when at liberty if they have a yeehaa moment, they are always connected to us, our bubbles just have to extend to accommodate the space between us, they forget we can’t ‘play’ like they can. If we think or feel disconnected it is US that has disconnected not them. They don’t think about us not keeping up with them, they’re just playing, so keep ‘mentally’ connected, recall them or keep the connection until you are closer. On that note you must remember to ‘disconnect’ when leaving them to go home.

It really is all about ‘Space’, how much is between us, is it mutually shared, is personal space understood, are there still claiming space issues from your horse or are you in control of your space? Horses really do learn to read our thoughts as our thoughts shape our bodies without us realising it SO make sure you are fully aware of what your body shapes are conveying to your horse and once you find that harmony within space then just ‘dance’ together.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

Starting up after Winter Break

STARTING UP AFTER WINTER BREAK

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THINGS TO DO ONLINE (and/or at Liberty)

1) FAMILIARISATION:  

Halter with savvy / touch horse with hands / stick and string rhythmically / with rope / plastic bag / flag / ball / saddle pad / saddle. In front of horse, beside horse, next to horse, further away and around horse.

From gentle up to extreme familiarisation.

 

2) MOVE FROM A FEEL / TOUCH – steady pressure:

Back up from chest and nose, up to 20 steps using pulsing pressure and always looking for lightness and NO BRACE in horse.

Move forehand over (keeping hq’s still and also with hq’s moving slightly in a circle), using pulsing pressure – up to a full circle.

Move hindquarters over (criteria as above but keeping fh still).

Head down, using lightness and as much time as needed for understanding. Hand on poll and using light pressure on rope.

Pick up feet using touch/squeeze of chestnut method…working towards being able to pick up all four feet individually from one side.

 

3) MOVE FROM YOUR FOCUS / INTENT – rhythmic pressure:

Use alpha phases at all times (thought/energy/body cue/tap air in 4 phases up to to tapping horse in a non aggressive way…pulsing pressure).

Slowly and gently disengage hindquarters (up to full circle, criteria as with porcupine)

Move forehand (up to full circle)

Walk backwards with pulsing pressure infront of the horse.

Drive horse to obstacles/touch it – point 2 point, using driving game with you next to horse by neck/shoulder.

 

4) DRAW & DRIVE – transitions: 

With gently pulsing alpha phases and NO WIGGLING of rope unless blocking unwanted moves.

Backup horse to end of 12′ and then 22′ lines and draw with line still on the ground.

Yo-yo you and horse together in sychronised moves, keeping at least 6 paces between you both at all times.

Back and draw between cones, over and back with poles, stable doors, gateways and lower head and back up (making sure no brace or resistence in head down, teach slowly again)

 

5) CIRCLES: 

12′ line – walk / up to 6 continuous laps (in a calm, relaxed manner, no stops until you say so with a DHQ)

12′ line – trot / up to 4 continuous calm laps

22′ line – walk / 8 laps (as above)

22′ line – trot / 6 laps (as above)

22′ line – walk 1 lap to left, change of direction, 1 lap to right then dhq. (or right first then left!)

22′ line – trot 2 laps left, change of direction (keeping gait), 2 laps to right then dhq. (or right first then left).

22′ line – moving circles to left, right and with changes of direction up and down field.

*NB. remember COD’s are an engaged move which stay in gait NOT a disengaged move where gait changes..key to this is to be light on the rope when drawing and to walk backwards to draw..no pulls.

 

6) 1/2 CIRCLE THROUGH/OVER/UNDER: 

12′ line – by fence / through gateways large and small / into and out of stable.

22′ line –  over jump / over pole by fence / over tarp in walk and trot / onto tarp, halt, walk off / onto tarp, backup, walk over (keeping horse further away from you at all times…use as much 22′ line as you can)

Horse should not go behind you at all, this game is a half circle in front of you each ending must be a GOOD DHQ, HALT & RELAX.

 

7) SIDEPASS: 

Calmly at fence to start with.

12′ line – 6-10 steps left and right.

22′ line – 10-20- steps left and right (with you at least 10′ away from horse)

Without fence: at least 10′ with very little forward motion from horse and very very little wiggling. pulse that energy.

 

GAME COMBINATIONS

Back/sidepass left and right: (rolling rock),  Back up, turn forehand, sideways, turn hq’s, back up, turn forehand other way, sideways, turn hq’s, back up…relax)

1/2 Circle game on the move:  with you walking forwards and DHQ’s at sides each time…disengaged move (in walk and trot)

Fig8’s on the move: with you walking backwards…engaged move (in walk and trot)

Leading game: walk forward to destination, dhq half circle then straight into moving fh half circle, you on other side of horse travelling original direction (in walk and trot)

Fig 8’s: 12′ line / walk 4 laps (very little walking from you)

Fig 8’s: 22′ line / trot 4 laps (as above)

Weave: 12′ line / 4 cones, 4 laps

Weave: 22′ line / 4 cones, 4 laps (you at least 6′ away from horse)

Touch it: Nose / 12′ line between 4 obstacles (in walk)

Touch it: Nose / 22′ line between 4 obstacles (you at least 10′ away from obstacle in walk and trot)

Toss Rope: Over head / 12′ line (from in front and beside neck area horse with relaxation)

Toss Rope: Over head / 22′ line (from saddle area, you facing forwards, remember to toss rope with outside hand)

Rope around Spin: 22′ line (toss rope over head, hold snap by halter, standing at shoulder, toss rope over butt and play friendly game with rope between your hands, let go of snap, push head away from you then face his shoulder and gently pull rope for him to spin..make sure you walk away from the shoulder keeping out of the kick zone)

Leg yield on circle: to help stiffness and brace out of horse. Walk circle, drive horse from Z3, porcupine at shoulder or behind shoulder as walking to create an arc in his body and leg yield away from you (in walk and trot)

Sidle for mounting: Sit on fence or stand on block. Hold halter at snap to stop forward motion, ask for hq’s to move TOWARDS you, reward often and rest and stop when horse in mounting position. Then dhq’s away from you and do again. When good at doing on ‘normal’ side of horse, practice on off side too 😉

Stick 2 Me: Horse to follow your thought/energy/body cue (tap only if necessary), you in neck/wither area, lead with outside hand. Walk on / halt. Walk on / halt / walk on. Walk on / trot / walk / halt. Walk on / trot / walk / halt / back up. And all combinations of these 4 things. Work on Left and Right sides too.

 

BITLESS BRIDLE RIDDEN BASICS:

Make up reins with 12′ or 22′ line or use clip on reins.

Sidle horse to mounting block.

If relaxed mount.

Lateral Flexion calmly at standstill, left and right.

Disengage Hindquarters calmly, left and right. (Indirect Rein)

Move forehand calmly, left and right. (Direct Rein)

Using lightness and one rein at a time,

Then: LF and DHQ from a walk in small, safe area, building up to bk/h/w/t transitions looking for lightness and connection to breathing/energy/thoughts.

 

ALSO something to not forget nor neglect is Undemanding Time and Mirror Your Horse.

a) Undemanding Time: go sit with you horse in his environment (or walk companionably with in-hand grazing), make no demands, don’t ask him/her over, don’t interact unless he comes to you. This is time that can be spent reading or doing homework, watching dvd’s or YouTube and allows your horse to know that you can just ‘be with them’ without any agenda.

b) Mirror Your Horse: this one you can do at liberty in your field or on a loose line in the field or with in-hand grazing outside your field. You need to totally give yourself up to mirroring your horse. Find out how he/she puts her front feet down, where is the weight distribution, how does he/she move the foot parts? What about his/her energy and breathing. Can you breathe with your horse. Can you stand totally still and relax or sleep with your horse and totally be with them in their world. This is a great exercise in connection and again allows you to be in their world without an agenda.

See Blog ‘ARTICLES’ for more info on some of the above. It might be an idea to print this off and tick things when you’ve done them. Remember, this is just starting up so we’re just checking things are still there from last year and progress on all of the above and more can be done after these are in place with lightness, politeness, relaxation, willingness, impulsion and flexibility to the smallest degree, they’re just checks.

 

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

 

For more info and to buy instructional DVDs go to my website at www.horsesavvy.co.uk

Breathing

I’ve found, through my own journey as a student and now as an instructor, that breathing is one of the main things I think and talk about. Why, I hear you say? we all breathe so why do I need to talk about breathing? Well, funnily enough, quite often we forget to breathe, especially in a calm, soft, rhythmic way, in all sorts of situations such as:

Concentrating on learning something

Fear of something known coming up

Fear of something unknown coming up

Excitement

Intent focus on one thing

We go introverted and many other reasons.

Horses are very aware of breathing and if we hold our breath for any reason the horse feels this, our body changes from soft to slightly stiff. Holding our breath could be interpreted by a horse as us going introverted, thereby they need to start leading, it could be interpreted also as us in a freeze moment before flight and the horse goes on edge ready to flee with us, whatever the reason holding our breath isn’t good. Irregular breathing isn’t good either as it doesn’t ‘flow’ well or give harmony to our movements.

What we need to do when around our horses is to remember to breathe, it helps to relax us and our horses and we can start using our breathing as a cue to what we want. To help us do this there is an exercise we can start doing on the ground that will help us to remember to breathe, start doing this as soon as you are confident and comfortable leading your horse around with the Stick 2 Me principle (see S2M article).

1) You at horses neck (or further back as your progress your Stick 2 Me exercise), horse working in a nice confident, rhythmic walk with you.

2) Get in time with your horses front feet, left to left, right to right.

3) Start counting footfalls, 1,2,3,4….1,2,3,4…..1,2,3,4.

4) Breathe in for the count of 4. Breathe out for the count of 4.

Once you start getting a good breath routine of 4 in, 4 out then start trying to relax your lungs and stomach and getting more breaths in/out without changing the rhythm of your footfalls. You will hopefully find that you can count to 5 in, 5 out very quickly, then 6 in, 6 out and onwards. See how far you can count BUT don’t forget to play Stick 2 Me with your horse and walk lots of patterns to keep him/her interested. Don’t become TOO focused on your breathing and forget other things. It may be good to start practising counting breaths whilst just walking without your horse, maybe while walking your dog or walking down the road. If you find you are forgetting to breathe a lot then maybe sing or whistle as you have to breath regularly to do these.

Start teaching stop/start cues with breathing. From halt to walk breathe in and bring your lungs/chest upwards and forwards for a walk on cue. Big Breathe out (make a noise like blowing out birthday candles) and bring your lungs/chest down for a halt.

breathingBig breath out to halt, using obstacles to refine this to perfection

Once you have the stop/start cues then you can start refining this to where you can breathe out slightly and continue breathing at that level for a transition down without a stop. Each horse/human finds their own levels of breathing in/out that they respond to so you must practice and find what works for your horse and you to become more in harmony. Just remember breathe out for slower/stopa nd breathe in for walk/trot/canter on.

Also remember to breathe and count steps when riding, this can really help you and your horse to relax, especially when doing  lateral moves or a dressage test and if you are doing a jumping course you will find you and your horse relax if you can teach yourself to remember to breathe OUT when going over the jump.

Again, as with all the exercises and principles I’ve written about, once you have thought about them, practised them and incorporated them into your way with your horse it becomes instinctive and only when you go somewhere new, or something unexpected happens, do you have to remember to breathe, and you can go straight to counting breaths to bring about relaxation again. All the principles can be refined and refined and refined again…remember, we’re aiming for ‘Invisible Horsemanship’

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

 

 

Mirroring Your Horse

I have had many people asking how I get my horses SO in tune with me but I explain that it’s more of me being in tune with them first, then them getting in tune with me and then us having a mutually focused partnership through trust and respect.

MirrorWhen I first started my journey into Natural Horsemanship my horse Tara and I had quite a good relationship, getting into the journey more and allowing my horse to have a ‘say’ about things that we did together brought around a turn of events that really foxed me and I didn’t know what to do. She decided that she really didn’t want to be around me (or any human really) and giving her the freedom to choose to run off whenever I asked her to be with me was a hard decision. I can understand why many people start Natural Horsemanship with this same intent only to be foxed like this and going back to their normal routine with the thought that NH had ruined their horse BUT I decided to figure out what Tara needed from me so that we could continue our journey and start that partnership that I always wanted.

What I realised pretty quickly was that Tara was quite a shut down horse, quiet, calm, sensitive and did ‘as she was told’ because that’s the way she had been trained. Being such a sensitive soul she showed her ‘compliance’ by being obedient but not willing, by which I mean she did what I asked in a slow, bored way that made me work harder than her and if I really asked too much she went ‘blank’ or would try to run off, especially at liberty where the truth always comes out.

So, after much thought I knew that I needed Tara to catch me in the field not the other way around. She was very good at being caught, standing still and freezing whilst I put the head collar on but if I asked her to catch me she’d run off and that wasn’t the partnership I wanted with my beauty.

I woke up one day and had an idea…’I’m going to mirror her today and try to be with her in her world, show her that I can be there as a herd member and not just with her for training’. This decision helped me to realise that to have a partnership with my horse I needed to request things with a two way conversation rather than demand things and to see if I could gain willingness rather than servitude.

So, I started off in the field about 50’ away from her (she turned her head away if I got any closer and I knew that was her cue for leaving), I started stepping as she stepped, turning when she turned and stopping when she stopped. After a few hours and lots of slow progress I was standing about 5’ away from her, taking each slow step with her as she grazed, putting weight on the back, front or side of my foot like she did as she slowly moved. I turned my head the way she did, lifted it when she did, started to see her muscles move in her legs, her chest move as she breathed.

After another few hours we were very much in harmony, steps, moves, breathing and then about 5 hours into the experiment she stood for about half an hour totally still, almost asleep watching over the other three horses as they lay down to sleep. This part was hardest of all. I moved, brushed flies off me, scratched itches and generally not ‘in the moment’ with her at all. BUT I did start to realise this and managed to really become a sleeping horse with her, it was like meditating. In a HUGE moment she then lay down next to me and I sat down with her for another 15 mins. That moment will always be very special in my life as she showed me that to be in her world, on her time, with her peace she was willing to allow me in and showed me true trust by laying down with me.

Since that moment Tara has always come to catch me but I have to ask her permission to enter her realm every time by squatting down when she looks at me and open my heart to shower her with thoughts of love and when I do that and open my arms to her she comes to me willingly on her terms.

She has taught me patience I never knew I had and the awareness that if I allow things to happen through mutual respect and trust then it will happen, but I have to believe. It’s not just about what I want, it’s about what we want together, as partners.

I also find that when I play the game of ‘Stick 2 Me’ that I can quickly get connected with her, and other horses, physically, mentally and emotionally because of the things I learned from those 6 hours one day on a Scottish hillside.

So, if you ever have the time to dedicate to mirroring your horse and not put a time limit on it then I really believe you and your horse can find deep bond by doing this. I’ve done little bits of this with Tara now and then and have done similar, shorter versions of it with the other members of our herd. It really does help to teach about how a horse moves, watching what they do during a day and reminds me daily that when I play or ride them that I’m doing a lot more with them than they do themselves when left to their own devices in their herd so I try to mirror them a bit and see if they’ll mirror me in the start of our dance together and that then brings about the game I play called ‘Stick 2 Me’ which I will talk about in another article soon.

Image00003You can also ‘Mirror Your Horse’ when riding. Make sure your horse is calm, remembers you are up on it’s back and not spooky before doing this, start in a small area like a round pen. Allow the horses movement to move your body in harmony with it’s own. Shoulders with shoulders, hips with hips. This task will find you a better seat and balance and allow you to not ‘be in control’ all the time, to allow the horse to have some say in your journey together. Friendship and partnerships are all about both sides having a say so enjoy learning how your horse moves and keep breathing in harmony too.

* Shelley – HorseSavvy

 

 

Liberty Challenge 9

Just 5 challenges this time but push your progression to do these in an open field. Start slowly in a small area and work up to a higher gait in a bigger area. CHALLENGE YOURSELF to progressive, positive changes so that you and your horse get  more and more connected in a common language that create signals for all that you do together.

1) Weave around cones on a circle.
Use as many cones as you like, 5 is the minimum on a circle. Make the circle large or small depending on your skill and your horses flexibility. Start in walk together and build up to trot and more distance between the cones and you and your horse.

2) Stick 2 Me Transitions.
Use as many transitions as possible, be on the left and right of your horse and see how straight you are together.

3) Jumps.
Big or small jumps, as many or as few as you wish and done how you like, either one and stop, turn and jump again OR as a small liberty course…it’s up to you to know you and your horses abilities but remember to build up to more difficult jumps as you go and higher transitions between.

4) Spins.
To left and right and even spins whilst leading your horse, see what you can do.

5) Back horse up from behind.
Use cue from tail or any other you may have, do a least 6 steps and more if you and your horse are up for it.

I will be doing these 5 Challenges in our 10 acre field with the other herd members grazing around us. I test my horses connection to me by working in this area as they have the freedom to run off if they want or to stay with me. I cannot run as fast as they can but have a good draw back to me if they go faster than me. How connected to you is your horse in a big field?

 

Liberty Challenge 8

Remember to do it at you and your own horses pace and level, the horse owns the time you take for this so don’t push, just encourage for more effort, lightness or precision as you go along. If you need to do it in walk online then do so but remember to progress as much as possible and practice it over the whole month to see improvements. Come back to the challenge at liberty and ridden when you are ready to do so.

1) Liberty & Ridden: Push a ball through two raised poles

2) Liberty & Ridden: 4 x trotting poles (any spacing you think best for your horse)

3) Liberty & Ridden: Canter down a bunting corridor (liberty: handler to stay outside corridor)

4) Liberty & Ridden: Turn on the forehand (front feet pivot whilst hindquarters turn 360*)

5) Liberty & Ridden: Trot a clover leaf pattern around cones (Pattern explanation below)

6) Liberty & Ridden:  Jump/halt/sidepass off jump (if you do not know this move or don’t wish to teach it then jump and halt straight after jump then sidepass a few steps)

7) Liberty & Ridden:  Transitions (whatever 2 or 3 transitions you are good at)

8) Liberty& Ridden:  Use cones to ride the outside and/or inside of a square….forwards / sidepass / backwards / sidepass

9) Liberty & Ridden: Familiarisation on the move (try at walk but trot if you can)

10) Liberty & Ridden: walk into water tray, halt in the tray then walk off  (or a foot in a bucket with water in it! I have a plastic jump water tray I will be using…you could also put an intact tarp on the ground and roll up the edges around jump poles to make a pool and put some water in it!)

ENJOY

NB…CLOVERLEAF PATTERN: this is walking/riding a shape like a 4 leaf clover. First set up 4 cones at equal distances from each other in a square. To walk at liberty or ride it you need to then choose to either just do left or right turns around the pattern…you shouldn’t do both unless you do the pattern twice!

The first move is to walk/trot straight through the centre, then turn left and do a left circle around 1st cone back through the centre of the square then circle left around 2nd cone, back through the centre and then circle left around 3rd cone, straight through centre and then circle left around 4th cone and then onto next task.

To do the cloverleaf outside this challenge I usually always start and stop in the centre of the square of cones so that the horse is always searching for X at the centre, Picture of map of tasks below hopefully will help too.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

LC8