So today we started with a lesson on how to hold the ropes Adam uses as it's not as easy as he makes it look! Simple little things like when you coil it up, twist it slightly so the loops don't twist themselves into funny shapes......
He uses the long ropes because you need to give your horse plenty of space. A lot of horses are lead around on short lead ropes with people standing at their head or shoulder and they can't turn their head to check stuff out, so they end up moving their feet instead and that's when we get stood on. We use 12 foot ropes with our horses, but Adam's are 24 foot so that takes a bit of getting used to!
But before working them on a line, we learnt how to direct them without one. Adam used the same signals as another horse would to move them around. You have to look where you DON'T want the horse to go, so to move them off, you look about 2 feet behind them and bring your energy level up. If you want a horse to go forward, you need to be behind his shoulder, if you want to stop him, you need to be in front of his shoulder. You look in front of his head to stop him. The angle between you and the horse is very important. All this takes a lot of getting used to, he had to help us with the positioning.........
Then we did more of the same but with the lines, directing the horse to go, stop, left and right just using our position, with no pulling on the rope at all.
This is the start of the foundation of his work, getting the horse to trust you to be able to set his direction and support him in where he goes. Horses are always looking for understanding, which they know they can get from other horses but not usually from us!
What was very important too is not to direct any energy at the horse, not to chase at them because that just means "go away" and then you've lost them.
We also spent a lot of time looking at the way a horse moves, because if you are aware of which leg he hasn't got his weight on, asking him to turn so he uses that leg rather than trying to pull him the wrong way makes total sense. A lot of horses resist being pulled in a certain direction because they physically can't go that way due to the way they're standing.