During the fifth connection exercise, also known as “Easy Herding,” you create a deep herd feeling with your horse while working on your dominance and your qualities as a leader.
You can only start with Easy Herding when the exercise “Your Spot, My Spot” goes smoothly and you can get your horse to move easily.
What is the goal of “Easy Herding” ?
The primary objective is to spark a connection by driving the horse in an amicable way and indicating the direction to go into at the same time. From birth on, a foal is taught to react on the body language of his mother and all other members of the group, and he finds it normal to be driven by them. The foal knows from an early age that he should stay between the “aids of the herd” if he wants to feel safe and secure.
A horse remembers and recognizes this during his entire life. Horses see everybody who drives them in an assertive but most of all FRIENDLY way as a part of their group. So by doing Easy Herding, we establish a stronger herd feeling.
At the same time we also work on our dominance because we drive the horse forward. We show ourselves as a leader by giving direction while staying calm and confident.
Where do you do this exercise?
Like the previous exercises, Easy Herding is done in a large paddock or meadow, so that the horse can walk away from you if it wants to because you (might have) used too much pressure. You wouldn’t do this on purpose, but it can still happen if you don’t know a horse very well yet and are still learning to respond to each others’ body language.
It’s not a problem if you used too much pressure (if it was with a positive intent!!) and the horse felt the need to run away from you. Because if the horse can run away and takes its distance without you running after it, the horse learns that there is nothing wrong. Be sure not to “chase” the horse like a predator would do or another horse that wanted to attack.
At first, it can be helpful to take the horse out of the meadow and practice in a secluded place with your horse, without any other horses around. This is just easier for you. However, it is not necessary and you can do every connection exercise in the meadow with other horses.
How do you do this fifth connection exercise?
During Easy Herding you ask the horse to step and you walk after the horse and behind it. You don’t ask the horse to trot even if some horses will do it on their own accord.
If you can, let the horse walk for a few minutes while you follow, then you ask the horse to change direction. You can do this in an active or a passive way. You can also invite the horse to slow down and halt.
It is not important to always succeed, and it may be difficult when you first begin this exercise. By spending a few minutes on this every day, you will progress because the horse will become more focused on you, even as you walk behind him. When the horse starts to react to your subtle hints, you know that the connection is strengthening.
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