As you have learned, horse’s (and people) need to be in a certain nervous system state to be able to learn and take in the information but also perform as well. This is the Social Engagement state. What that looks like in your horse is they need to be Relaxed and Present. This means that anytime they are on the end of a leadrope, before you attempt to teach them anything, they need to be standing still and present in front of you. This also means that you are standing still and present to what your horse is doing as well.
This is not an exercise that you do only until your horse is standing still and present, this is one of the most basic and most used tools in your toolbox. You will come back to this Flowchart EVERY TIME your horse is on the end of a leadrope. This is like the ABC’s of the whole thing because in order for your horse to either learn something new or recall something that your horse has learned, in order to use it, they have to be standing still and present.
Read the flowchart and get an idea about it and then look at all of the “flowchart” introduction videos.
Here’s some of the wisdom and benefits you will receive from the the Standing Still and Present Flowchart:
Start with Relaxation: Before you attempt to teach your horse anything or engage in any activity, your horse needs to be relaxed. This means their body and mind should be calm. Tension or stress can hinder their ability to learn and respond positively.
Present in the Moment: In addition to relaxation, your horse should be fully present. This means they are aware of you (but not fixated upon you. We don’t want them staring at us out of obedience or concern) rather than being distracted or agitated. Being present ensures that your horse is receptive to your cues and instructions.
Both You and Your Horse: The concept of “standing still and present” applies not only to your horse but also to you as the handler. You should be calm, focused, and present when working with your horse. Your energy and demeanor can influence your horse’s mental state, so it’s essential to maintain a composed and attentive posture.
Routine Practice: This is not a one-time exercise but a fundamental tool in your horsemanship toolbox. You should return to this Flowchart every time your horse is on the end of the leadrope. Whether you’re teaching them something new or reinforcing previously learned skills, your horse must be in the “Social Engagement” state.
Foundation for Learning: Think of this technique as the foundation for all your interactions with your horse, whether it’s you learning how to control your body, give up control or how to change your energy, or your horse learning how to have their attention follow the flag. It sets them up mentally for the training that is to come.For them to learn, remember, and use what they’ve learned effectively, they must be in the right mental state. Just like you need a calm and focused mind to absorb information, horses require the same.
Regular Reassessment: As your horse progresses in their training and experiences, you may find that they become more relaxed and present more quickly. However, it’s crucial to continually reassess their mental state and adapt your training accordingly.
Flowchart Guidance: The Standing Still and Present Flowchart serves as a guide to help you evaluate your horse’s current state and decide on the appropriate steps to take. It is just a guide, and it is recommended that you study all of the videos on using the flow chart, so that you become entirely familiar with it. Do not take this lightly, your success from here on out will rely on becoming proficient in the use of the flow chart.
Incorporating this approach into your horsemanship practice is not just about training your horse but also about building a strong, trusting bond with them. By respecting their mental and emotional needs, you create an environment in which your horse is more likely to thrive and be a willing and responsive partner. As you continue to practice and refine these skills, you and your horse can achieve greater success and harmony in your training and riding experience.
Remember how to navigate this course? Just click on the topics below under Lesson Content. Then at the bottom of each topic, there will be a button to move you to the next topic. If you click on Next Lesson at the bottom of this page without going through all the topics, you will feel lost! LESSONS = STEPS and the TOPICS = What we want you to learn about during that step.