Claiming your projected path.
To begin this lesson you may need a sturdy wall because your horse is likely to walk around you or cut off your projected path.
In the photo below the human is next to the wall so her horse cannot walk in circles around her if she takes the slack out of the lead rope to slow or stop her horse. For the purposes of walking together forward, she has a perfect amount of slack in the lead rope, and she is in a perfect position.
You can’t see the person, but she is looking on her projected path just like her horse is looking on his projected path.
The goal of this exercise: is simply to walk forward and explain to your horse that he needs to be on his path and you will be on yours and you can walk side by side together.
In the beginning, it’s ok for you to start this exercise with you a bit farther forward, closer to your horse’s head but the ultimate goal, as you can see in the photo above and the two diagrams below, is that you are back next to your horse’s riding area.
1.) Start by walking with your horse next to a big un-movable object like a wall or fence to clarify YOUR projected path.
2.) Next, practice the same exercise but this time walking next to a more porous barrier like a row of ground poles or a woods line, to clarify your projected path and to grow and expand communication with your horse. (Diagram below left) This barrier should be visible to you and your horse but porous enough that he could cross it. But of course, he won’t want to because you will help him understand that he should not cross your intended path.
3.) Finally, use an imaginary line that represents your projected path (Diagram below right.) This is the path that will go with you wherever you put it. This is the system of learning you’ll use to help your horse, not to cut you off or step on your projected path.
This is a clear step by step program designed to help you communicate to your horse that you would like them to notice where you are intending to go and not circle around you if you take the slack out of the lead rope to slow or stop him.
You will be able to stay away from your horse like in the diagrams above allowing them the responsibility of maintaining direction.
If you move off of the wall too quickly, your horse may not make the connection. If you stay there too long he may not understand why he can’t just walk over the ground poles, after all, isn’t that what ground poles are for? You have to make this connection for him. Just as you’ll have to do in the last diagram (on the right above) when there’s no barrier at all.
When you begin this exercise, your horse may just get right in front of you and you’ll need to keep moving forward, right into the space of your horse’s head. Under no circumstances do you want to change places with your horse.
Sometimes people will just go around the back of the horse, circling. You do not want to do this. Your only goal is to move forward and maintain your projected path. If there is a horse in your projected path, simply help him move out of your way. That’s the goal for this exercise; encourage your horse’s personal responsibility of maintaining direction.