My new exercise is called the “Loopty~Loo.” The purpose of this exercise is to bring willingness and a better response to rein aids and leg aids for half halt, collection, lateral aids, and throughness while riding. It will also create trust and a deeper working bond. This exercise is done from the ground. Practice this until it is smooth for a month before you expect to see any results from the saddle. I am very excited in sharing this with you because I know how much it will improve your horse’s response to the riding aids. It will build your connection, your horsemanship skills under saddle, and the horse’s ability to be elastic. An elastic horse is a happy horse! [youtube]8Tmo0hAxOUc[/youtube]
When you start out, do not practice for more than 10 or 15 minutes at a time, which includes the pauses you take. Begin by having a halter on your horse with no lead rope. You will use the halter to guide your horse around you. You can do this exercise without the halter if you wish. Start the exercise standing next to your horse at his shoulder when your horse is comfortable and would stand with you like this for as long as you would like. Then move up enough to be able to take hold of the side of the halter with the hand that is the easiest for you to use. I use both hands, one hand is supporting, and the other is directive. Ask your horse to bend his neck to the side. This will put the horse in a position that you can turn him around so that you are on the other side of him without having to move. Direct him by talking hold of the halter on the bridge of the horse’s nose to guide him around you. Once you are on the other side of your horse, you are going to ask your horse to turn his head back toward you, bending his neck to the side in a tucked fashion like in the Uberstreichen Exercises. (If you are not yet familiar with the Uberstreichen Exercises or not advanced enough to have a fluid connection in this manner save this exercise for a later date, do not disregard it.)
You gently guide the horse slowly with the floating hold- like reversing your horse on a lunge line except you are holding the halter rather than the rope. Try to maintain the spot you are standing on. Once you get him on the other side of you, turn his head back toward you in the new direction with a flexed neck to the right using whatever hand is the easiest to use. Move his shoulder away from you while his head is flexed to the right. Once your horse moves his shoulder away from you, ask your horse to move his haunches away as well. If the neck is turned toward you enough, the horse will move his haunches away from you completing the circle around you. Then ask for halt. At this point, ask your horse to stand straight and tuck his head so he is standing with an arched neck in a floating hold- then let go, pause and do the same exercise reversing back to the original position. Do this until he can go back and fourth stepping around you smoothly. You can adjust your horse’s position on how you choose to bend his neck. You can take his head out and around his body, or move him from a tucked position close to his body with some leverage. It is usually at bit of both. This will take some practice. By practicing this exercise, your horsemanship skills will improve. It is very important to keep a hold of the horse in the process. If you like, you can touch his shoulder or belly but keep more focus on the guiding hand on the halter. In the beginning, you might feel clumsy, but as the horse learns, he will smooth out.
Today I am sharing pictures of a wonderful Arabian stallion RajaliKA and his owner Elizabeth McCall, who is a student of mine. RajaliKA has not experienced this exercise before and we only worked on one side. I will work with him some more before I ask the horse to turn back to the original position. The reason is that I think I would run into some confusion for him and bring up more resistance, so for now I will do only the one side. Thank you Elizabeth and RajaliKA for providing a excellent example!
This exercise will take a very relaxed horse that is very comfortable with allowing himself to be directed with your hands on his head and halter at all times. The Uberstreichen Exercises will help your horse to get comfortable with being directed with your hands on his head. This exercise is very advanced but if your horse is trusting and relaxed, it will be natural for him to work with you in the advanced way. If your horse gets annoyed stop the exercise and get him to relax with a floating hold. Each day you should see more advancement. Little by little, he will get the idea. If your horse seems to be getting worse, do not work with the program.
As a side note, this exercise would be a good test for how well a horse is trained if you were planning to buy a new horse or accepting a new horse in training. This would allow you to see where the holes are in the horse’s training, or show you that he is quite well trained!
Looking forward to hearing about how this exercise goes.
Have a great weekend and please remember to watch out for new horse and human sightings. May the horse be with you and may the spirit of the bond be shared with all living creatures whenever possible.