Going back to the alphabets of communication for a minute. The most important thing in this example above is that you have the horses complete attention. The better he is paying attention to you and not things around him, the better he will understand your intention. The second most important thing is that you are AWARE of EVERYTHING that is going on at each moment. That's a lot to be aware of I know. You absolutely WILL miss things, but that's OK. The point I am trying to make is, the more aware you are the better things will go. We need to be in a constant state of evaluation. This way we can find the opportune moments to act or interact. This is how we communicate our intentions clearly. You may get nice results and think your horse understands you. But understand that understanding is relative to experience and location. You may try this same thing next to something that makes the horse uneasy and get poor results. This is how you know that they really don't fully understand. This is also why I like to do things in different locations, and under different conditions. It will help them understand better. As well as give us more opportunity to evaluate so we can have a better understanding.
We can communicate multiple intentions in many other ways. Like backing while going left and right, side passing and getting more front or back end movement, or doing a nice clean circle then stopping the hind end while turning the front end for a turn around. Just a few examples to give you an idea. We will discuss more of them in future posts. Just remember if you do any of these, make sure they understand each part individually before putting it all together.
Something I would like to leave you all with today is to not focus on the cue so much when you communicate your intention to your horse. Just as a catcher sends signals to the pitcher in baseball so they can communicate. If they want to change the signals they can. The cue is not as important as your intention. Almost every trainer has a different technique than the next. They found the best way for them to make their intention clear. Instead of focusing on how the trainer did it. Focus on why it worked and how his intention is made clear. This is what makes all the differences. You can use the same cue on the same horse as someone else and get no result at all, but it works fine for the other person. This is one of the reasons it bothers me so much when I hear a person say,"This horse isn't trained as good as the last owner said it was." Just because they won't do it for you doesn't mean they don't know how. Its mostly a relationship thing. A horse will test you and make you prove yourself to them. If a horse don't like you or don't trust you with their life, they won't listen to you. They need to see you as a confidant leader, and a partner. Someone they respect and trust.
Our next post will cover how communication builds relationships, and why having a relationship with your horse is so important.