In this post we will discuss more in detail on how I get their attention and begin working with them at the start of a program. You may want to refer back to "Attention and Awareness" occasionally.
I start this process in a round pen usually. I like to first get their attention by not allowing them to run around or move. I push them to a spot I want them to be and then leave them alone. I will then wait and see if they try to leave. If they do, I put them back till they get the idea they need to stay and wait for instruction. At this point I have their attention. Not very well but they're thinking about me. Once they will stay put I position myself in front of them and keep a distance of 15 to 20 ft away. It can be longer. Remember not to close the distance at all during any part of this exercise unless you are trying to cut them off from running away, or applying extra pressure to get them to look at you. Creating more distance will draw them to you. Closing the distance will push them away from you. My goal at this stage is to turn myself into a magnet and draw their attention to me no matter where I go. I start in front if they look left I go right. Their curiosity makes them look back at me, so I stop and say good boy/girl. Sometimes moving to the side makes them want to leave, that's fine. Just control the direction and speed and put them back. It is good after a while to pick a new spot. But you choose when and where. If they move every time you move to the side, then you may want to just stay put and make some noise, or move your arms to get their attention. Stopping as soon as you get a try. Holding them to a higher standard each time. Once you can get all the way around to their hip, its time to encourage them to turn and face you. Now you have to learn how to reverse the polarity in your human equine magnet. It works best if you push on the hind end and draw on the eye. How? Close the distance toward the hind to push, while at the same time increase the distance on the eye to draw it toward you. I know some of you said WHAT!!! All the movement is in the shoulders. So if you are standing on the horses right side. Your left hand and shoulder would reach out toward the hind. At the same time your right hand will come back tight to your body while you draw your right shoulder back. You are pretty much pivoting on your hips. At first they will most likely start to walk forward. If they do, without closing the distance, go along with them working on getting ahead of the drive line. If they stop, you stop and take a step back to reward their efforts. Eventually you will be able to just push on the hind end to turn them toward you. This may end up being a bit much for written text. I wish I had photos to provide some illustrations. I do apologize. Question can be answered in the comment section if you would to ask any.
The above is an example of how I get their attention. I will discuss in this paragraph what we need to be aware of as we do it. There is so much that I may not be able to mention it all. We for sure want to be aware of what the horse is saying to us, (I.E. are they excited, relaxed, focused at all). We also want to be aware of our intention. Where would we like them to stand. Have that spot picked out before you start. Same thing for when you are ready to change spots. Pick it out before you decide to change. We need to develop a very keen self awareness. This way we will be aware of what our body language is saying. Remember, anytime you close the distance you push them away, and anytime you increase the distance, you draw them to you. So we have to be very aware of that. A slight lean can make a big change some times. Location awareness. Where are you and where is your horse? This way if you have to put them back you can get right to where you were. The closer the better. We need to be aware of how much pressure works. We want to know how little we need, instead of how much. We should be trying to make the pressure we use lighter and lighter every time. If you increase your awareness, you will do a better job evaluating. The better you do evaluating, the more likely you will show clear intention. The more aware we are, the better chance we will respond at the Opportune moment. Opportune is discussed in "Alphabets of Communication."
When working on getting a horses attention. Our goal is to teach them to think and focus, but also to recognize us as a qualified and confidant leader. If they see us as Qualified Leader,(we do not want to demand the position) then they will always look to us for advise and guidance. The reason for this is all the stress of worry can be discarded from their system. If they trust us enough, it becomes our responsibility. To get to this point you must have their attention first of all, be aware of their emotions, and be able to respond to and control their emotions. Being able to communicate to them, "Relax I got this, you don't need to worry one bit" will help your relationship so much. It will give you a more relaxed and stress free horse.
In our next post the topic will be "Working With Emotions" We will talk about how to be aware of them and how to respond to them. Thanks again for reading along with us.