Updated: Apr 17, 2021
Creating space for your horse so they feel they has room to move.
The groundwork position is a quite strong position for many horses. Many lack the balance to move as slowly as their rider in the beginning of this work. To have as a habit to always create the space your horse needs shifts the responsibility for this work onto you instead of the horse. For example: If you make a halt and you're not happy with the distance between you two: you move, not the horse. A small but quite significant difference from the horse perspective.
Think about how you can set up next repetition better so you stop more together. Are you stopping to fast? Does your horse know the cue well enough and so on. From my experience riders become SO much more aware of both their own body but also more sensitive for how their horses moves by working with this. This is not easy. To walk backward in itself is not easy for most of us. So also something that might take a bit of practice and patience with ourselves. Love to see this transformation happen, both riders and horses move so much more freely and calmly. And with this mindset we are creating a horse that learns that you will help out rather than correct them. This horse is a much more willing and confident partner. Here I work Frodi with a handheld nose target. This was an important set up in the beginning to create more space. For him not so much for his physical balance. More his mental one. He had some bad experiences with humans so
this was also a way for me to work with this part from a distance where he could feel safe. Safe from unwanted touch and with the option to leave the session should he want it. So from many aspects a good mindset to practice for us humans.
Here on second picture Frodi and I work in a protected contact solution with a barrier between us. We often use protected contact when introducing horses new to clicker training to keep us safe and give us time to assess our horses. However protected contact
work in both ways. It can also make a fearful, insecure horse feel more safe. The barrier between us is signalling "hands off" training to Frodi making it more likely he will engage running with me. Creating the space he needs.
Slowly we can work closer and closer to each other and still feel relaxed about it.