Find the golden connection through the 24-carrot toss game. When I feel deeply connected to a horse in the moment and he wants to follow my lead our teamwork is extraordinary. To get to that place a horse needs to feel this same feeling with me. It can be normal for a horse when a horse follows the direction of his trainer that they can become nervous or unwilling or unfocused or overwhelmed. This game may help to overcome these attitudes. It will cause your horse to see you more clearly as his leader. It will cause relaxation and a sense of well-being through the interplay you share with your horse while getting in sync with him.
This is a game that will develop a habit in your horse to work with you closely. Your leadership communication aids will be lightly given because you will have the full attention and willingness of your horse to participate in the most natural way. It will cause a horse to relax and enjoy being directed by you.
How the game is played:
You are training at liberty or you could start with a fence between you and your horse for your safety without tack. If you feel the game is getting out of hand by your horse progressively becoming more agitated then discontinue.
All you are doing at liberty to gain leadership is to toss a piece of carrot at the moment your horse is relaxed and connected with you and not trying to reach for the carrot. Your horse will learn that you are in charge of the carrots and that you toss them in the moments that he is relaxed, willing to wait, and focused on you. In this state your horse will listen to your leadership for you have his respect and his attention. Your leadership is fun to your horse because there is a carrot in it from him.
Put your focus on when to toss a carrot and when not to. This will help your timing in when to toss the carrot to shape your horse’s attitude to follow your lead. Having your full focus on when and when not to toss a carrot your horse will understand more clearly what you want him to do.
The result of playing the game is to establish a clear leadership with your horse to follow you effortlessly, easily, and naturally. Knowing when to toss the carrot will give you the key to the best teamwork ever. You will be teaching your horse to pause before you send him out to get a carrot, which will help to get your horse into a state of neutral. You do not want your horse to have an agenda, the agenda being wanting the carrot and showing it through any form of nervousness. When he is like this and you toss the carrot you are teaching him the behavior he is exhibiting that you do not want. What you want is his full relaxed attention, with no apprehension. Your focus will be on watching to see that your horse does not cause you to toss a carrot out for him because he or she wants you to.
I see this happen with a lot of horsemen when teaching or asking a horse to perform a trick. The horse takes over the horseman from a flawed premise that a horse after performing a trick ALWAYS needs to be rewarded immediately. You can reward immediately for a couple of times but you must give up rewarding immediately as soon as possible for this reason - the horse will start performing the trick quicker to get the carrot. Then the horseman tries to meet the needs of the horse. When the horse sees this response from the horseman he gets more impatient and agitated. This can turn into rude behavior. The 24-carrot toss will fix this problem.
You want to put your focus on getting your horse to work at your pace rather than the pace he would like. If you work with the horse’s pace you most likely will loose your leadership position with him. What you are looking for is a seamless interplay.
Notes: If your horse is not so interested in carrots before you start the game just feed him a few to develop his appetite. For a food aggressive horse he may not be ready for this game and if so consider taking my online course to remove his aggressive behavior regarding food. You might try starting the game with him with a fence between you. If he becomes more agitated he might work through it or you could keep your sessions to 5 minutes throughout the day. In a weeks time he should come around.
Some Side Benefits:
This game will bring you closer to your horse and improve your horse’s IQ by how the game challenges him to work with YOU. Practicing the game will develop a habit in your horse to follow your lead when you need him to. Working with you will be the best part of your horse’s day, which will help to continue to deepen the bond.
The practice of the 24-carrot toss will also help to take the spook out of your horse when you go to ride him from warming up the connection and teamwork on the ground. The 24-carrot toss is a great way to promote your horsemanship skills. You will see clearly how to manage your horse’s energy and behavior to bring out the best connection that in turn will lead to a perfect performance in teamwork.
If this game is fun the outcome will amaze you in how your working relationship will improve. If the game is not fun please discontinue it and consider doing a coaching call with me. This exercise is particularly beneficial for horses under saddle in cutting events, competitive trail, hunter and jumpers, Liberty and any horse that needs to keep an eye on what he is doing and on you. It can help the Dressage horse not for developing his attention to a sight line but how it develops the team working skills needed for dressage.
Have a great weekend! Be on the lookout for new horse and human sightings and may the horse be with you.
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