When I work with a horse there are some ground rules that need to be put in place. I prefer to have the horse without any tack or head collar in a small area with good footing. First what rules do I have in mind? Well I have my personal space and I do not want others (horses or people) to barge in on me. Secondly I want to show them I am clear and consistent in my approach and questions towards them. I want to show them I respect them in their search for balance. Most of the time emotional balance, which can be addressed thru restoring physical balance.
Since every horse is different I may start, to the observer, different. But the end result will be the same, aiming for a dance together were only body language and intent are used to move together.
Take Patch who had been trained and who has been to shows. I can start a question to move with just pointing were I want him to move to. He understands that, he challenges me, he tests my consistency and my focus. So I might need to add an activation aid directed at his hind quarters. I might need to move and be bigger in my question, but not harder. He will than relax in the safe knowledge that I mean what I ask and that I do not lose focus. He will accept me and respect me.
Now Darcy has had no training for anything. Just pointing will mean nothing to her. To start with she does not even acknowledge my presence, searching for her friends. So I quietly ask her to move over when she stops somewhere by swinging my rope – making a noise – and moving in on her. As soon as she moves I get quiet and let her move off. It takes less than 5 minutes for her to get the idea, I only have to raise my activating hand – no swinging or noise necessary – for her to move. By now I also point first and she is picking that up to. She is a very smart lady. But do not under estimate the work she is doing, she is tired after 15 min. and I just stand with her and do some bodywork to make her feel safe.
The end result shown by Djarra, a free and confident horse, dancing together: