Develop Lightness on the Ground - Part Two

Developing Lightness on the Ground - Part Two appeared in the August 1998 issue of The Sentinel, The Voice of the Horse Industry in the Midwest.

(Note: To the extent practical, Bill’s conversational style of teaching is preserved throughout the book and in this article. Where clarification might help the reader understand his explanation of a concept and use of terms, Leslie has filled in. In the book manuscript, her contributions will be in parentheses. In this article there is no visible distinction between their voices.)
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“No matter what job you have for your horse, or how fast it must be done, the most enjoyable way to go about things is to make best use of those useful qualities that he was born with.” --Bill Dorrance

It seems that the source of lightness in the horse is life itself. The way he uses his strength and collects himself for those lightening quick moves, and the way he maintains an attractive, gymnastic self-carriage--this, too, seems to come from the same place. It comes from his life. It is the energy, the instinct and the ideas inside of him. If your horse is not well prepared to understand what you expect of him on the ground these inborn qualities may not be available to you when you ride. The easiest way to preserve the horse’s lightness--which is his natural way of being--is not to take it out of him in the first place.

To accomplish this a person will develop their horse’s responsiveness to their “feel.” It is through feel alone that a rider can access lightness in the horse without creating any resistance. When you develop a basic foundation, through feel, it becomes possible to direct the horse in any maneuver, at any speed, at any time, for any reason, and have it weigh nothing in your hands. This foundation--directing a horse’s movements through feel--is the hallmark of true horsemanship.

Two Types of Feel: Direct and Indirect

Direct feel refers to actual physical contact with the horse. This can be through your lead rope, your reins, and your direct physical touch on his hide with your hands or grooming equipment. Indirect feel refers to a person’s affect on the horse’s space, however little or much of it there is between you. This sort of feel is sometimes more difficult to apply effectively because no physical contact is involved. Many people are not comfortable around a horse unless they are trying to operate him through some equipment they put on him. Through his natural instinct of self -preservation, a horse will respond to indirect feel. He will either react to or ignore a person’s presence, and how he responds depends entirely on the person. Human “vibes” can be felt by the horse, and human intent--or purpose--is something a horse can also sense and will try to understand. This is because the horse is an intelligent, decision-making being.

When it is applied in a way that he can understand it, either direct or indirect feel from a person will influence the horse’s mind and body. It determines his direction, speed and frame of mind. Through feel a person can shape the horse’s desire to stay or leave, and cause him to do many little things that are very important to the horse and to the safety of the person. But these little things are only visible to the most observant human eye.

A horse that is trying to understand what you want can usually pick up your feel with a float still in the line and maneuver in the direction you want and weigh nothing at all in your hand. This is the foundation for lightness and collection that you’ll enjoy later on when you ride. By combining the direct feel of the leading arm through a float in the lead rope, and the indirect feel of an approach that has presence and meaning, the handler can influence the horse to step his hindquarters over by taking a forward step across his outside hind leg with his inside hind leg, which will slow the inside front (left) foot to a stop. If one foot is really stopped, the others are on their way to stopping, too. Otherwise, the "stopped" foot would be making plans to leave with the others.

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Preparing to take a new circle to the right. The horse has just shifted his weight back and stepped in behind the leading foreleg with his right front foot.
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In the photos above, the horse is set up to leave in a circle to the left with his weight forward. In the sequence, the horse reaches with his right foreleg after crossing over in front with his left leg on the first step. This is not the best way to use the leading leg, because the reach he needs just isn’t there when he has his weight on it. Compare these pictures with the next four.


In the sequence of photos below, the horse is prepared to leave in a new circle to the left with his weight shifted back enough to give a little better reach for that first step he needs to take to the right, which will redirect towards the outside of the new circle to the left.
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To help the horse learn to understand what you want, you can make use of two basic aspects of his nature. He is naturally curious and is apt to investigate things he hasn’t seen or been around before. He is also liable to run away from those same things. There is a spot somewhere in between those tendencies where an observing person can develop their own skill at merging their plan for how they want the horse to use his speed and agility to collect, stop, turn and move out with the horse’s own willingness to do these things for a person. This works because it is part of the horse’s basic nature to want to get along with people.

At the point where the human’s thought becomes the horse’s idea there is complete control over the horse, but there is no contest, no clashing of wills. There is no place for those ideas about dominating a horse, either--not in what we are building into him this way. That would be way out of line, because it is unnecessary to think or operate like this if you’re also thinking about working with your horse through feel. A person needs to always keep in mind that less force on the horse can cause him to become lighter and more willing. Once you understand how to build that soft feel in there, and have him operating smoothly for you without resistance of any kind, then your rides will have the same effortless feel and appearance. Your horse will weigh nothing in your hands.

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The child shown on the left is using direct feel to ask this mare to yield in the new direction with her forehand. The girl shown on the right is using indirect feel, and her presence, to direct (right hand) and support (left hand) this horse to rock his weight back and reach to the left with his forehand before taking a circle around her to the right.

If You Lack Presence...

A person who lacks presence or approaches a horse without a clear idea of what they intend for him to do, sometimes gets pushed right out of the horse’s way and will sometimes even get stepped on. Someone who comes up like this to a young and inexperienced horse, or a troubled horse, is also apt to get bitten, kicked or struck at, run into or dragged around on the end of the lead rope. This sort of person doesn’t see that it was their approach that caused the horse to do what he did, or that the run-in with the horse was already shaping up way ahead of time. This way of operating around a horse is not the best, and these accidents are completely avoidable. This sort of person lacks the understanding of the horse’s main way of communicating anyway, which is through feel. So much of the time, these same people think the horse opposed them or harmed them on purpose. But this is no part of the horse’s idea in the first place. If he’d been approached in a way that he understood what was expected of him, he would have done it.

It is up to each person to decide whether to yield to the horse--which tends to result in a person getting hurt one way or another, sooner or later--or whether to teach the horse how to yield without fear or force.

Fear and Force

When a horse is brought under control through fear or force (restraining or leverage devices, electric shock or self-tightening gimmicks), it doesn’t build anything good into the horse. And it never will. The use of fear or force builds in resistance and this is the very thing you need to avoid if the horse is ever going to be trusting or trustworthy. If you don’t have the horse’s trust, any effort you put towards developing lightness and collection is going to involve making the horse light, or getting him collected. This behavior--the idea that we have to make the horse do anything--distorts the real definitions of lightness and collection, and just botches up the whole general effort to achieve either one.

The actual fact, as far as the horse is concerned, is that interaction with human beings is not natural and for a person to sit up there on his back is even less so. This is exactly the reason we need to observe carefully how the horse responds to us. For lightness to carry over when he is under saddle you want to establish the best possible connection with the horse on the ground, through feel, because it is the only way the horse can do what is expected of him without offering some resistance. It is up to the rider to get an understanding of how each horse needs to have information presented. When the horse understands what you want, he will do what that is, right up to the limit of his physical capacity and sometimes well beyond it.

About the Fear of Making Mistakes

So many people worry about making a mistake with their horses and they seem to hold themselves back by not trying something new. Because, when they get in that mistake spot, they don’t know what to do to make things feel better. If the person isn’t free to make a mistake, two things happen. First, that person’s learning process has stopped. Second, a person’s intolerance of his own mistakes nearly always carries over to intolerance of a horse’s “mistakes.” This usually leads to punishment of one sort or another that is rarely understood by the horse. If it were understood, these punishments would produce lasting positive results.

From the horse’s point of view, the lack of understandable human feel, combined with intolerance of mistakes and some punishments, just reduces the chance for a meaningful relationship between a horse and a person right down to zero.

004ed6193cWhen a horse doesn’t understand what’s expected of him, the confusion that sets into his mind is reflected in the appearance of his body. These horses are really mixed up and the riders are, too. It is nobody’s fault. It just happens.

Building in Dependability, Through Feel,

The five exercises below should be practiced after the three exercises we wrote about last month are coming through for you pretty smooth. All of these maneuvers will help you prepare your horse to have respect for you, and to respond with confidence to your feel on the ground. They will also spark his interest in working with you in almost any other situation. Once these exercises have become fluid for the two of you, you are well on your way to developing that reliable partner that most people hope to find in a horse--one with lightness and enthusiasm available for whatever job you want him to do.

For the best results, practice these exercises in the order presented. Be careful in any of the work you do with a horse that you don’t get stepped on, bitten or kicked. To begin, you will need a 12' - 14' lead rope and a halter. You’ll remember to maintain some float in your lead rope whenever possible. (We spoke about what “float” is, why it’s important and how to get it working for you in the July issue of the Sentinel.)

In the July issue of the Sentinel, we also introduced a few exercises to help develop lightness in your horse that will carry over to your mounted work. They were lowering and positioning the horse’s head, leading up real free, backing slowly a step at a time, and taking the horse’s head around to either side while keeping the feet still. This is the foundation you want to have in place so the horse can better understand what comes next.

#4 Bring the head around and step the hindquarters

It’s real important to keep that idea of going slowly in there, because when you rush this the horse will hold his breath--or get rigid through his body--and that changes the meaning of everything into the wrong idea. So, once you have his head brought around, and your body position isn’t preventing him from keeping his head there, you’ll ask him to take a step away from you with the hindquarters. Just one step.

1d4d4ffa30This child is learning to take the horse’s head to the left, through feel, with his hands on the bridge of the nose.
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This foal has learned to flex laterally at the poll and leave her feet still. This basic maneuver is part of the foundation you’ll want to have in place for advanced work later on.

As you practice this you’ll want to be thinking about how your ground work ties into your mounted work in that horse’s mind. So you’ll be sure to ask the horse to step away from pressure that you put on his side, just a little behind the cinch, right about where your stirrups hang down and where your calf would be. It would be a touch, with a little energy to it, not anything that would prepare the horse to expect that when you get up there that you’re going to grind your heel into his side. So many people even leave their heel or their spur pressing right in there even after he moves his feet. Not that. You won’t get the horse ready to expect that from you, you hope not to anyway, because that builds in resistance and we don’t want our horse to develop any part of that resistance. Now, if you ask him to step the hindquarters away from you by pushing on his hip, or laying the tail end of your lead rope over his rump, or on his flanks or even some people slap at him with their lead rope right around the hocks,

well, he’ll move away from you all right. But that doesn’t carry any meaning for him at all about what your legs are supposed to mean to his legs when you get up there on his back, not by any means.

You’ll watch to see if he takes a forward step with his hind leg, a step with the inside leg that reaches across the outside leg, or if he just straightens his body out some and steps backwards. If he steps back, well you just start over, because chances are good you either let the head loose as he started to move, or held him around too short on the rope and also too tight, and asked him to move while there wasn’t any float left in that line. These things will cause a horse to back up.

Now, it’s real important for the person to understand that what the horse does is because he either didn’t understand what it was you expected, or because he did understand it. You might not be knowing it was you that caused the horse to do what he did. By presenting a feel for something you didn’t know you were presenting he’ll do the thing you didn’t want. This can be a real problem for a lot of horses, and of course they all really want to get a long with people, so it’s up to us to see how to fit each horse the very best we can by not confusing them.

8f4ac2c3d6There is very little resistance in a horse that operates through feel, which eliminates the need for devices to control it. This horse willingly follows the feel of the snaffle bit, all the way around to the left.

You’ll try to be real observant about what the horse shows you that you asked him to do through the feel you presented to him, and there isn’t any reason here to worry about if it’s a mistake spot or not. Some things just can happen while you’re learning--while you and your horse are learning things together, through feel.

10c83ec75cHere Sarah is helping a friend learn how to step towards the hindquarters with presence to help the horse take a forward step across his left hind leg with his right hind leg. Positioning the hindquarters is the foundation you want to build in to ensure that you’ll maintain the horse’s natural lightness when you need his forehand available to you.

Once he shifts his weight forward to free up those hindquarters, you’ll keep that head around to the side until the foot has stopped moving, and you might have to do some moving of your own feet to stay in the right position to help him know what you want. Even if he moves around quite a bit in the beginning, then you’ll wait until all the feet have come to a stop and he’s standing still, with some float in the lead rope between his halter knot and your hand. When he’s taken all the pressure off that lead by flexing that poll and top of his neck around in your direction, then you’ll release the line back to him so he can stand with his head and neck straight out in front of him, in his normal way. This is how he learns to separate what you mean by what you do with your lead rope and reins, from what you do with your body. He needs to know this, because it’s got two real different meanings and these are connected to getting a job done horseback, if you’ve got one to do, and to your safety while you’re doing it.

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If the horse can’t leave his feet still when you bring his head around to the side, position yourself to stay out of his way without trying to stop him. Just let him stop when he’s ready, and follow his steps until he does. When his feet are still, and he’s taken the pressure off his own head by flexing his poll and neck in your direction, there will be less tension on your rope. A careful observer can see and feel the difference. Right then is when you’ll release his head to the normal standing position.

There is a time and place in your work with a horse, but it’s further up the line, where you’ll want to be able to move all those feet--and then move one foot at a time, too--just by picking up on a rein. Doing this too early though, without enough experience, can lead to many big problems. We won’t speak about it except that real big problem you’d want to avoid and that’s when your horse starts moving when you touch those reins and doesn’t get slowed down or stopped when you pull back on them.

This is one thing you’d never want to teach your horse to do. It doesn’t mean that they won’t learn to do this, because they can, and you can get it straightened out, too, but the best approach is to never even get them started on that in the first place. That is out. So, this is the most solid foundation you can build in way down at the bottom: to position and reposition those feet, in any direction you want them to go, stopping in between each step with just no pressure on his head or his mouth--none at all.

Later, this transfers over to your feel to move his legs and body with your legs and body, without him wanting to push against the bit. This is a real important thing to build in, and not just for safety, but because it’s real unhelpful when a horse doesn’t understand you. Those horses that run faster when you pull harder haven’t been shown this other way of thinking and operating, through feel. And that’s because the people haven’t either.

When you have those hindquarters freed up with a flow in there so that they’re real adjustable, too, so that they can operate just one step at a time real free in any direction and stop in between each step, then you’ll build on that until you can ask for a few steps right close together. Prepare that horse so that he wouldn’t need to stop on his own and root his nose out straight ahead, or to speed up on his own either, with an idea that he’s going to go off away from where you are. When this is working right, he’ll stay with you, following your feel. His head will still be around towards you, sort of low, and be real soft so it weighs nothing at all, as he steps across as many steps as you want. This may take some time and should not be rushed.

In doing this on both sides you’ll build in a foundation that you’ll rely on, clear up the line. You can add onto this for more advanced work as time goes on.

Another reason this exercise is real important is that it is a lot easier to maneuver the front end later on if the back end is active and doesn’t get stationed solid or hung up. If you can position that hind end in the right position, why the front end isn’t going to be too much trouble to operate because it is the action and position of those hind feet that makes the front end want to move freer. But if those back feet can’t maneuver at the right time, and in the spot they need to be to take that horse’s weight, that front end isn’t going to handle too good. That’s for certain. Just ask your horse to take some small steps to place and keep replacing those hind feet. This is the preparation he’ll need to have built in so he can properly support that leading front foot as it leaves the ground when you’re turning him around. Now we’ll speak about that.

#5 Move the front end clear around the hindquarters,

You’ve already got the foundation for this started in these other exercises because you’ve practiced getting control of the head position. And, you’ve already got control of those hindquarters by stepping them around slowly, one foot at a time. If you can step them anywhere you want to and replace them, then they can be put there as a foundation. That horse knows he needs a foundation when you start asking him to move that front end. So if he knows you know that, too, and you are there to help him get in the right spot, then you’re thinking together in the same way about things. This is the better situation to be in.

Of course, you’ll want to rock the weight back for the front to end to free up, and then you’ll tip the nose of the horse right over the leading foreleg before you bring up enough life to move him. He won’t be in balance to do this maneuver for you otherwise. Then you’d give the horse an opportunity to use himself properly and feel his way around the turn, with his weight first rocked back and then you’ll want him to step back just a little with the hindquarters. This will cause the front to be light enough to step over and move much freer.

0babfa2455Shifting the horse's weight back to take the weight off the leading foreleg.

Be sure not to hurry the horse in this, or to cause him to resist your feel. He is apt to resist following your feel in the new direction with his forehand, if you allow him to step across in front of the leading leg with the following leg. He won’t be liable to stay real light for long, that way.

book2 21Stepping in behind the leading foreleg helps keep the weight back.
book2 22Replacing the hind feet to shift the weight back and free up the leading foreleg in a turn on the ground to the right.
book2 23A willing horse that is light weighs just ounces in your hand as the forehand reaches clear back this slow turn.
book2 24This is done through feel.
book2 25As the horse learns how to position his feet in a turn without pushing against the bit or leaning on the support rein, he’ll be able to move his feet in a way that keeps his weight back and frees up the leading foreleg. For the better results, the most reliable foundation for this is built in on the ground. Photo by Jen Simmons

Now, that stepping over in front move is one that’s real popular with the people who like to do competitive dry work but our exercise here calls for something not like that. We want our horses to be stepping in behind the leading front leg with his following front leg because if they don’t step in behind it, then it puts more weight on the leading front foot which is the one that we’re trying to get less weight on in the first place.

A person wants to be sure to practice this maneuver on both sides. Then when its easy to move the forehand around free at the halter knot, back up a few steps and experiment with moving him around accurately at a little distance. It’s important to know that depending on the circumstances and the horse, you can be either too close, or too far away to be effective. It all depends. This you’ll learn about from spending time getting to know your horse and how he responds to your feel. This makes it possible for him to understand what’s expected of him.

7d617554cdWhen the forehand is heavy like this, the hindquarters are usually hung up. This horse’s range of motion is hindered by having too much weight on the leading foreleg, which could have been avoided if the right front leg had come in behind it, and not across it.

#6 (advancing exercise #2) Stopping and Standing Still

Teaching that horse to stand is the most important thing to get built in. You do this by understanding how to help him move, and him knowing that you know how to do this. Then, in the absence of your feel to move, he knows that other feel, which means stand. That feel to stand means for him to stop.

The feel to stop isn’t a complete release and it isn’t no feel, either. The feel we’re speaking about lets him know to set that foot back down on the ground and leave it right there. He’ll learn to wait for some other idea from the person to show up, through feel, and that will usually be about going some place or another. If they can get it timed just right to maneuver him someplace or another before he has to leave on his own, that horse will learn real good about the waiting part of things, because there’s no part of force in this. There’s no making the horse do anything where it comes to stopping or standing. It’s real important that the person and the horse understand this. It’s not a difficult thing to do, but it’s not so easy to talk about.

It’s the life in you that sends out energy the horse responds to. But people get confused on this real easy. What we’re talking about is a real different feel from any kind that you’d offer the horse to help him understand that you wanted him to move backwards, or to step up straight ahead or left or right.

book2 37What really happens is often taking place too quickly for the eye to see. To come to a stop on the end of the rope without crowding a person in the middle, the horse slows the forehand down and his weight shifts forward.
book2 38This shift makes it possible to step the hindquarters a little way around the forelegs so he can slow down enough to finally stop all of his feet and face the person he has on the other end of the lead rope.
book2 39There is no crowding or stepping on people involved with an approach that stops the horse through feel.

When you have this feel to stop working for you real good, then that stop will just show up in his body whenever you think about it--as long as you have his attention. You will have a horse that will stop, and stand there, too, because that gets real closely associated in his mind. And it won’t weigh very much in your hand, either, just the weight of those reins, or your lead rope getting picked up a little, is all.

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Now the horse is stopped and has settled. He is relaxed. When there’s a cause for him to move, he will. Until then, he’ll wait as long as he can.         

If your horse is difficult to stop, or won’t stand easily...

Anytime you adjust your feel of the horse to stop moving, why he would naturally know that he was supposed to stop. But, he just might have some other ideas in there already that he learned about somewhere before. To check him out on this (take hold right at the halter knot, or standing back off aways, but still feeling of your horse through your lead rope or snaffle bit rein), rock him back, and then rock him forward without the feet moving. Then step him only one step back (you’ll want to get a diagonal pair of legs moving together when you present him with the feel to back up), and then ask him for only one step forward. Let him settle after those steps, and he’s learning to follow your feel, as you’re doing this. On the start, it might not shape up quite like it’s written down here. If it doesn’t, be sure to slow everything way down so you and the horse can get together better, and try this.

It goes like this: rock back (no steps), release him for not stepping, we only want him to think about it and get himself prepared. Then, rock him forward (no steps, for the same reason, we need him to think about going forward, this way he learns to wait for our feel for him to move, and doesn’t take over with a plan of his own). Release all pressure on his lead or rein for not stepping up. Again, you’ll test him out to rock back (still no steps), and release him for his preparation. Now, step him back, release him for that and let him settle. If he doesn’t settle, or can’t rock back without taking a step, you’ll do a little less with less pressure, and time your feel to his feet stepping, so he can get with you. Another way to think of this is that a stop occurs at a place that is right exactly in between stepping forward and stepping back. For some people, this really won’t make sense right up until the second that it does, and then you won’t forget that feel and the horse won’t either.

2d7265ef8dOne step back...         
217a785da1One step forward...
c866f6943cOne step back...         
bf3560070bReleasing the feet to the ground with each step.

And to straighten a horse is pretty much done along the same lines, and always through feel, but in thinking about it, imagine that place that’s exactly in between right and left. Since that place would be neither one, then your horse would be lined up straight, no matter if you were mounted or handling him on the ground, it’s the same feel you’re offering to him. Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to combine the two--standing or stopping, and keeping the horse straight. From there, when he’s stopped and he’s straight, a horse that’s well prepared in the basic maneuvers we’ve been speaking about here, why he can do almost anything that’s asked of him right on the spur of the moment.

kids2 3“This big sorrel horse is stopped and he’s just waiting. His feet are gathered up underneath him real good, he could go in any direction with a float in the line and stay soft, accurate and willing for this girl. He’s not in any hurry, and she isn’t either. But when she gets ready, he’ll get ready, and whatever they do, they’re going to do it together and it won’t weigh any more than the rope already does, just carried in her hand.
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"And these other girls, why they’ve learned that once you’ve got that true feel working for you, you can go about anyplace and your horse will feel all right about going along there with you. And of course, these horses wouldn’t be too apt to crowd them at any time either, and that’s where the safety part of things comes in.” --Bill Dorrance

#7 Preparing the horse to take a new direction on your lead rope

We’ll assume you are facing your horse, standing at a distance from him on the lead rope, and you want to send him off at the walk in one direction or another. There won’t be any whip anyplace around in this part of things and there won’t be any stud chain either because we’re operating the horse entirely through feel. This is the only way the horse can respond without offering any resistance, because he knows what’s expected of him, and he’s just pleased to be there and to try what it is you want if you’ve gone about things in a way that fit him up to this point. If you haven’t, that will be real clear right now.

(To change this, a person would just need to go back to some of those other things we wrote about back down the line further, until it gets real clear to the horse what’s expected of him. And when it is, it’s because the person will have figured out how to present their feel in a way that fits that particular horse, and that’s real horsemanship.)

You’ll be offering him a feel to leave in one direction or another, and he’ll maybe want to walk forward to where you are in the middle but you’ll be ready for this and maybe step toward his shoulder a little bit--the shoulder nearest to you, that will become the inside shoulder of the circle. As you present him with enough feel in your body to help him want to leave, you’d offer him to rock his weight back a little through the feel of your lead rope as he was about to leave, so he’ll want to reach the outside front leg away from you to start the new direction. His weight will be back on the hindquarters where it needs to be to do this. This way he won’t get mixed up about whether he’s supposed to walk right to you, and maybe cause you to move out of his way.

If you take a step back and take the slack out of your lead rope when you ask him to leave in a new direction on the circle, you won’t ever speak about that it was the horse that caused himself to push into you with that shoulder, or to step on you either.

We are offering him the feel to operate his forehand and hindquarters separately, using the hindquarters to support his weight while the forehand reaches in a new direction. This is a maneuver that you will need to have real reliable and light when you ride. This is why it’s important to establish his responsiveness to your feel on the ground in the rope halter, or snaffle bit, first--way ahead of when you want to ride him through this maneuver.

If he’s not hurried or confused when you practice these exercises on the ground, his natural lightness and this respecting response you’ve taught him will carry over when you’re riding, no question about that. It’s all right to let him take one step away from you with the forehand on the new line of travel, and then stop, before asking him to continue. It’s the better way to start him on this. This helps him learn to feel of you, and it will be the feel for him to wait.

When you’ve got this part figured out yourself and the horse understands this, though feel, then the part where the horse learns to take over with ideas of his own just because he’s moving his feet--that doesn’t happen. Because if your feel is in there the way he needs it to be, these other ideas will never come into his mind. There’s no part of developing a pushy horse where you are offering that nice, relaxed feel that he can understand. If you’ve prepared him to be this other way, that pushiness just won’t happen.

book2 27aThis is a tough call for the horse, sometimes, because in this position, the person can confuse the horse. It can cause him to back up suddenly, appear “stuck” or to come forward, instead of follow the leading arm off to the right, as the person intends him to. Here, it might help the horse to have the directing arm come down a little bit lower than the supporting (left) arm. As it is, they are both at just about eye level, blocking him on both sides. When you want the horse to change directions from this position, it helps to lower the leading arm (the right one) as he passes in front of you towards the new direction of travel. At the same time he will need to rock his weight back on his hindquarters and reach with a leading foreleg to the outside of the new circle. When the feel isn’t built in real solid so that he can pick up a real light feel of that lead rope, the horse can get confused by a person having both hands in that blocking position.

#8 Move the horse in both directions at the end of your lead rope, or snaffle bit rein, as you fix it up for the horse to slow down, turn to face you, get real straight and settle

You’ll work everything up until this point all in there together, in the right sequence, and this is what will shape up. If it doesn’t, the horse got mixed up because you missed building something important into your foundation. And you wouldn’t worry about this at all because it’s real easy to miss something, there are so many variables in there anyway. So just take a little more time in those spots to clear up his understanding of things. He’ll be going real good for you once your feel and timing have meaning that he understands.