The fourth connection exercise is called “Your Spot, My Spot”. The horse that leaves his spot when another horse drives him from that spot shows himself at that moment as lower ranked. The horse that drives another horse to take his spot shows himself as being higher ranked at that moment.
In this exercise we take the spot where the horse is standing.
Why do you do “Your Spot, My Spot”?
Through this exercise we tell the horse that we can show ourselves as being higher ranked when we need to (do not confuse this with leadership!). It is important that a horse will want to give his spot or move over for his trainer. This gets you more respect from the horse for as far as your personal space is concerned and it is also safer to work with a horse that moves away from you if you ask to.
By doing this exercise we learn how to be assertive but still friendly.
We also practise in developing our driving aids. Because it’s not always about hierarchy, but it’s always about communication. If you know how to use driving aids in a calm and friendly way, and your horse als yields to your driving aids in a calm and relaxed way, then yielding to driving aids in groundwork will also become much easier and fluent (think about asking the horse to take distance while leading him, or asking the horse to go forward on the circle, etc).
Where do you do this fourth connection exercise?
At first, you always do this exercise in a large space, like a meadow or large paddock/riding arena, so that the horse can take a lot of distance if he feels the need to. If they have space to take this distance, they will not feel pressured.
How do you do it?
You step in the direction of the horse confidently and by using the intention, focus, energy and body language you communicate to the horse that you want to take his place.
You basically tell the horse: “I want to stand in your spot, so I want you to go away and move to another spot”. Then you effectively stand still on that spot so his/her spot has now become your spot. You have shown yourself as higher ranked at this moment, and the horse has shown himself as lower ranked by making space for you.
It’s very important that you take into account the individual horse, because every horse is different and you have to adjust your approach to the horse you’re working with! Read this article to learn more about it.
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