Dandy and her newly found paddock buddy, Blaze
Recently I found myself in a sticky spot with Dandy. He was progressing well under saddle, he was making great progress on the trail, but he’s a sensitive horse and he still showed a lot of anxiety in several parts of the arena. I consulted with my long distance coach, Daniel Dauphin, and he confirmed that it was a leadership issue, and that I had to find a way to become “the most important thing in my horse’s view”. He gave me a tool to do that too. That involved some amount of pretty chaotic running around, and I’d lie if I said I never got concerned about our safety (read “scared shitless”), but I’m pleased to report that both his analysis of the situation, and his predictions of what this approach would bring, were spot on
Dandy after our second “shoulder yielding” session. Looking a wee bit tired (but not the least concerned about any “scary spot” !)
How does yielding to the leg relates to leadership and trust ? Think about it for a minute… See it now ? If your horse cares enough about your requests to ignore his fears, then you’ve just marked massive leadership points. And if you can achieve that enough times in a row, those fears will subside and a new level of trust will emerge.
After a bunch of running around, I let him rest facing the once “dreaded sliding door”. You can see him looking at it. You can also see I’m not holding him there by force, his reins are totally lose (like in 95% of his working time). He’s not looking afraid either, just observant
As soon as all the scary places are mastered for good, we’ll head back to the trail again. We both love it
After school Dandy gets some socializing time with a “passive leader” type of horse, which helps with his overly dominant nature. So far so good, they don’t fight anymore.