You must have seen it already: your horse drives another horse from its spot (or vice versa). That spot can be at the drinking trough, a spot in the shade, or just a place without clear meaning. Taking the spot of another horse happens through intention, energy and driving body language. Your Spot My Spot is the 4th connection exercise from Horsefulness Liberty Training and is based on the natural behavior of horses. Horses also do it with other animals if they feel the need for it and therefore also with people.
Horses amongst each other
Horses will make clear to each other who must give space for whom. Who gives space and who takes space depends on the context. Horse A can make way for horse B today and tomorrow it’s possible that it’s just the opposite. Everything depends on the situation at the moment, because the hierarchy of horses is not strictly determined (as is the case with chickens, for example).
The way it happens also differs. It can happen very quietly and subtly, where neither of the 2 horses builds up tension and whereby it has nothing to do with hierarchy issues as both parties have the same idea. But it can also be very intense: bare teeth and maybe even a bite or a kick.
As a human being it’s important that you can also take the spot of your horse in a calm way. It’s therefore certainly not the intention that you scare or chase the horse, it’s only about what the exercise literally says: taking the spot of the horse.
Every horse is an individual
Every horse is different and has its own character, temperament and past. And every moment is also a unique moment. Just like with all other connection exercises, you will have to adapt to your horse and the situation of the moment during this exercise.
With some horses you do this exercise very subtly with very few driving aids. You wait and give them a lot of time to think and decide what they will do with this.
With other horses it’s important that you act short and powerful.
Some horses will immediately invite you to make contact afterwards, others will keep you at a distance for a while.
There are horses where you ask that they leave in the trot, though with others you want to prevent that.
Sometimes it’s necessary to do this in the meadow, so that the horse can graze and is less concerned with you, with other horses you just want their attention to be more focused on you.
And so there are things in this exercise that you will do with one horse and differently with another horse.
Know what you’re doing!
Connection Exercise “Your Spot My Spot” is in essence a very simple exercise, but it’s very important that you know exactly what you’re doing and why you’re doing it like this or like that with the horse in question.
That’s why I advise you to have an instructor (online or live) when you start the connection exercises, because also for the other exercises your approach will be dependent on the character, temperament and background of the horse you work with.
For example, it’s possible that if you do the Your Spot My Spot exercise incorrectly, your horse will be less happy to come to you. He can also become anxious or defensive, and that can be dangerous. That must of course be prevented.
As with all other connection exercises, the purpose of this exercise is also to strengthen the bond with your horse, deepen the connection and further develop communication.
It sounds strange that the bond becomes stronger by taking the spot of your horse, but that’s not surprising. Many horses have difficulties figuring out how the situation between them and their human is in certain situations where ranking order is important. They doubt about the qualities of their human when it comes to clear communication and assertiveness.
This exercise can clarify this. At the same time, they love someone who is calm, grounded and friendly. This is all reflected in this exercise if you do it correctly.
It’s an exercise that is essential if you want to work safely with a horse and if you want your horse to react lightly to your driving aids. With some horses you do the exercise only a few times, with other horses you will have to do more to achieve the same result.
If you do it right, your horse will respond lightly to your driving aids, respect your personal and intimate space, stop intrusive behavior and focus more on you. Horses can become calmer, more attentive, more careful, more alert, more open, playful, ….
What positive changes they make through doing this exercise again depends on their own character and how you go about it.
From liberty to dressage
Although we do this exercise in liberty, it even influences dressage training. Everything that you encounter in liberty as a “challenge” will always be reflected in later training. For example, a horse that goes into your driving aids will also go against driving aids while longing. And yes, even while riding. And that also applies vice versa: a horse that yields lightly to your driving aids in liberty will also do this better during groundwork, longing and even riding.
Liberty Training is therefore more than just establishing a connection and establishing clear communication. It also helps you in every other training component: groundwork, gymnastic groundwork and riding.
Horsefulness Liberty Training is the essential foundation!
You discover it all in The Horsefulness Liberty Training Program