Announcement: I am pleased to announce that the registration for the Insider Circle Program and the Extended Circle Program is now open! Click here to learn more and register.
How to Move Your Dragon
If you are facing out of control dragon energy with your horse at liberty or you have a lounge lizard that will not move when you ask him to move I have some suggestions that could help. For your equine dragon, you can get him to settle down by keeping him out of the areas he wants to be in. For example: if he is running back and fourth in a certain area of the arena, take over the area by keep him out of it. Let him go anywhere else he wants to go- except not in the areas he wants to be in. This includes the spaces he wants to stand in too, which means you will keep him moving.
The Wind in Your Hair…
Here is a visualization that might help you to connect with your horse: See yourself joyfully riding your horse while he is jetting around, and feel the wind in your hair rejoicing with his free spirit. By keeping him out of the areas he wants to be in and enjoying his exuberance, he will notice that you are in charge of his behavior and that he cannot wield any of his power over you through intimidation. By taking charge of the areas he wants to be in- you gain his respect and bring back his desire to connect and settle down and forget about his dominate behavior.
Warning- Practice Only With Good Footing
You can only try this plan if you have good footing and if your horse is not in danger of falling down from his zippy out burst. If he is in danger of falling catch him up. Take him back to his home and Share Territory with him.
Many times I find it is better not to turn my dragon loose. I hold him in an area and let him eat hay. When I feel his energy settling down, I let him go and work him on slow stuff. This way I do not need to address the dragon at all. I have seen the same horse play both rolls going from Dragon to Lounge Lizard in the same day as a way to hold higher rank over their owner.
The Carrot Game
To get the blood up and running in the Lounge Lizard or Sleeping Dragon you could try the Carrot Game. For those of you who are wanting to join in on the Insider Circle and Extended Circle program and feel that you are not able to meet the requirements for the course because your horse’s gas pedal is stuck, these ideas might help to get your horse moving toward the dance you what to share with him at liberty.
How to use the Carrot Game to Develop a Functioning Gas Pedal
This game takes two people or more. If you use more than two people, you send your horse from one person to the next. Your horse must go to the person he is sent to. How you control this is that he only gets a carrot for the person he has been sent to.
How to Play:
You begin at liberty. First start with two people. Each person has only one carrot on them at a time. Stand about 25 feet from one another. You wait for your horse to come to you and when he does, you feed him the carrot you have. Then your friend calls your horse, and as soon as they call him- you ask your horse to go to your friend to get the next carrot. The reason you only want to have one carrot on you is that he will not want to leave you to go to your friend because you still have a carrot. It is not logical to the horse’s way of thinking to travel to your friend when you have a perfectly good carrot.
If your horse tries to search your body, show him you have no more carrots by opening your hands so he can check them out for himself. Use body language as you point the direction you want your horse to go, like a traffic director along with telling your horse you do not have any more carrots. Speak to your horse like you would speak to a friend, and put the kind of energy in your body language that you would like to see in your horse.
Trot You Say?
Once your horse gets the hang of the game, you can then ask your horse to step into trot. For your sleeping dragon, it might take a few days for him to want to trot to the carrots but with encouragement, he most likely will volunteer the trot. Once your horse has learned to play the game after a few days of practice, pick a morning that your horse would be energetic by a change in the weather. Then when you send your horse to your friend- send him with a quick strong request. If he does not respond big enough, increase your request. Surprise your horse by bursting out with your own dragon energy with every fiber of energy you have- and really mean it like how Lori suggested in her answer to Amanda’s question about the meaning of purpose in her article on my blog which you can review on the March 29, 2011 post Sample Article of Good News for Horses Webzine! By Certified Clinician Lori Brown Smith.
If your horse overreacts and runs past your friend, and forgets the carrot- pat yourself on the back for a job well done! Stop pursuing him, and wait for him to return. When he finally returns, both of you can shower him with praise and lots of carrots. Wait a while to let your horse process the exercise and then repeat. This game should really make the difference for you.
If You Encounter Lounge Lizard Resistance…
Some horses will show resistance by exhibiting Lounge Lizard energy while others bring out the dragon energy as a way to take control. Both are acts of resistance. Some horses move slowly because their owners are secretly not wanting the horse to move any faster.
When you try the Carrot Game, modify it to you and your horse’s needs and personality. Of course, do not try this exercise if you see any reason that it would cause you and your horse a problem. Making the right judgment is the key to your successful outcome!
If the carrot game does not work for you, another thing that you could do is something I have never suggested- and that is to use the round pen. I think for a horse that has lost his response to move forward from a driving aid the round pen is another solution for you to consider.
Stay Tuned Next Thursday
Stay tuned next Thursday and I will share with you how to use a round pen to activate your horse’s Lounge Lizard behavior. If you have any question let me know, and report to me what happened using the Carrot Game with your horse. If you like, you can add a video. It is a great game and teaches many lessons all rolled up in one game. It builds trust and teaches a horse to pay attention to our body language, and you can also teach a horse to learn names when you play with 3 or 4 people. After a while you can say, “Sarah will give you a carrot” and your horse will go right to Sarah.
May the Horse Be with You! Carolyn