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Icelandic Horse Connection

Making the Change

Facilitated by Nancy Allen and Dan

Exercise #7 on Bill's site: Preparing Your Horse to Take a New Direction on Your Lead Rope, can be found at: http://lesliedesmond.com/

Bill writes about the horse,"...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 it will be real clear right now."

This is the point where you might find some holes in your training. If this happens, that's alright, and you can just go back to the previous exercises and work with them a little longer. Since there is no rush with any of this, going back won't set you behind. What counts is that these things are becoming solid with you and your horse.

If you find any holes in your training so far, don't look at it as a negative but as a positive. You will KNOW what you have to work on and this now becomes an OPPORTUNITY to spend time with your horse.

As you work on all that's involved in switching directions, it's okay to let your horse stop "in between steps and soak on things for awhile."

This is a good time to really break things down into smaller steps.

I know that I keep saying this, but think about all of the parts that make the whole-all of the pieces that go into this exercise (and in all of the exercises). That is one of the "secrets" to teaching your horse anything, really, think about what each movement or behavior is made of.

All of the things that the horse has to do to get behaviors accomplished.

As you read the exercise think about how you want to offer your feel for the horse to leave and move in the direction that you are asking. What will you do? How will you ask it? Direct it? Support it? How much effort does it take?

Be sure that you work on these things step by step-do your homework-and don't just jump into this exercise without doing the rest or you might get yourself into a dangerous position. Make sure that your previous exercises are solid.

Something that might help as you do this is to think about "offering (your horse) the feel to operate his forequarters and hindquarters separately." (This relates back to looking at the exercise as pieces that we teach then put together to make the whole). The hind will support the weight, the fore reaches for that new direction. How can you set it all up to be easiert for your horse?

Questions? Let us know how it goes!

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We'll move onto #8 on Bill's site: Moving the Horse In Both Directions At the End of Your Lead Rope As You Fix It Up For the Horse to Slow Down,Turn to Face You, Get Real Straight & Settle. Find it at: http://lesliedesmond.com/

This exercise will end the clinic and then everyone can start to concentrate on the upcoming Dream Team discussion.

I'll stay on the list a few more days to answer questions. If anyone has questions after I leave the list you can always write to me privately. That is also an option for anyone to do who feels uncomfortable posting to the entire list, okay?!

Once again, thanks for giving me the opportunity to talk with you about your horses.

Moving the Horse In Both Directions, At the End of Your Lead Rope

There is just one paragraph here, but the most important part is that "your feel and timing has meaning that he (the horse) understands." Bill adds, "if you haven't prepared him for the future, that'll be real clear right now."

On Elaine's list, TheInnerHorse, we called this exercise "The Unwind" and we discussed it's benefits at length. It's a VERY valueable exercise. It's sort of a culmination of all that we have learned thus far plus a few added extra benefits.

We are asking our horse for lateral flexion, to bend his spine, move his hindquarters, bring the front end across, keep his attention on you, straighten and stand still. Another benefit is that the horse sees you with one eye and then the other during the flow of the turn (helpful for horses who may have a tendency to want to keep you on one side). He also needs to give to pressure and be comfortable with a rope along his sides and hindquarters.

One little exercise with ALOT of stuff going on!

Remember, this exercise is done at the end of the lead rope, so you're standing a ways away from your horse. Your horse will be working on the feel that you present to him.

You'll stand on one side of your horse and bring the lead rope along the length of your horse on the opposite side. So if you were on the right hand side, you'd reach over your horse's neck and bring the rope along the length of the left side of the horse and around the hindquarters.

Standing out away from the horse across from the right hip you'll present a feel to ask the horse to bend and turn away from you. You'll look for your horse to bend to the left, "shift his weight forward to untrack the hindquarters, and then shift his weight back to follow through with his front legs." In the end he will have made a complete turn and stand facing you and you will lead him away then. Think about how you will handle your rope to get each part accomplished.

After your horse completes the turn, settles and stands, lead him away with float in the rope. Work this on both sides too!

Some horses could get stuck at first as they can't figure out what you're asking. Some might get a little nervous or scared, be ready for this and help them the best way that you can while keeping yourself in a safe place.

"You'd want to remember," Bill says, "that a mixed-up horse is just missing something in his foundation. You won't worry about this at all, because it's real easy to miss some things. I'd say most everyone does miss out, here and there, as they're learning, because there are so many variables coming in all the time to REMEMBER AND OBSERVE. And that's anytime you're with a horse."

You will definitely need a longer lead for this (like 12' or longer) Try to manage your rope well by gently coiling it up as the horse turns so when the horse stops and faces you, you will stll have float in the rope but the rest of it will be nicely coiled in your hand so that no one will get tangled. Then turn and lead your horse away. Remember as you coil the rope that you are not hindering the horse in any way. He needs to follow your feel but we don't want to pull him or run out of rope to hinder the maneuver.

Some people have used this maneuver before. Others might have trouble picturing it. Ask questions if I haven't been clear enough!

In the future, this is also a great pre-ride check to do with your horse. If he's having trouble with this on the ground, you might have trouble when you ride (I'm speaking mostly about disengaging those hindquarters. If he has difficulty doing this it would mean that he is still "straight" and in the best position to flee. He hasn't relaxed yet. He hasn't "turned loose". This is a very important aspect to be aware of and work to correct through feel) and it would be best to fix it on the ground first.

Questions or observations on the exercise?

Thanks and talk with ya soon!

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