"One main thought I like people to be on the lookout for is that spot where a person's thought becomes the horse's idea. There is a complete control over the horse when this occurs, and this control is no part of any contest whatsoever. I don't mind saying again that there's no place at all for ideas about dominating a horse in the connection we are building here."
True Horsemanship Through Feel
The good thing about the 100 Day Challenge I'm doing this year, is that any training counts, it doesn't have to be all earth-shattering, ground-moving stuff. Yesterday, I didn't have much time before work, so I decided to practice something I hoped would be simple--approaching them in pasture, haltering, and bringing down their heads.
This comes from Part I of True Horsemanship Through Feel: Teaching the Horse to Adjust His Head Position
Paraphrased: Standing on their right side (and then left), you place one hand softly at the poll and then pull down on the halter knot with the other hand. The hand at the poll shouldn't be digging in or pushing. When you get any kind of movement down, you let the pressure go, then ask again, and again, until their head is just maybe a foot from the ground. (Do not put your head directly over them, just in case they pull up real quick.)
I worked with Beautiful first.
It was their second day out in the large pasture, and it was windy. Beautiful was standing on a little knoll, relaxed, mane blowing in the wind, eyes on me. If I had been placing bets, I would have bet she'd run away wildly over the entire 15 acres. But she didn't...so never place bets on your horses! Instead, she stood very calmly and let me approach her with the lead. I walked around her on both sides, ran the lead rope over her back and neck, haltered her and then asked her to lower her head. Bit by bit, with gentle pulls and instant releases, she had a nice, low relaxed head.
After working with Beautiful on both sides, I looked over to the other side of the pasture and saw Leah. Leah saw me, too. Off I went toward her, and surprise, surprise, she stood waiting for me. She even bent her head in to greet me. I did the exact same thing with Leah, and since we'd already been working on lowering the head on other days, she did awesome.
As I was walking back to the house, I was thinking to myself, does this even count toward a day of the 100 Day Challenge? It was too easy. But I think it most certainly does count. Getting a good indirect feel in the pasture, and that lower headset and slack lead is essential to the kind of togetherness I'm looking for, and that takes us further down the road to a true partnership.