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Step 15 – Standing Still & Present Flowchart

Step 15 - Using the Standing Still & Present Flowchart

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

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In an attempt to not skip steps, I am trying to be precise about how we define “present”. My horse can stand still and chill, but might have a look at things in his environment, or seem bored just standing still and might sniff the ground or want to investigate objects nearby. But he will easily follow a gentle feel on the lead rope or a little movement from me or the flag and come right back to being calmly focused on me and attentive (without being concerned or overfocused on obedience). If I ask him to do something (FAB or leading with energy) he’s easily able to do it with relaxation.

Is the distraction by things in the environment something we need to continue to work through before anything else, or does the fact that he’s always connected to me, easy to get his focus back, and seems mentally present and ready enough to do the next thing asked of him suggest that we can progress to next steps?

Warwick Schiller avatar Warwick Schiller (Administrator) December 12, 2023 at 12:00 pm

He’s certainly allowed to look at things.What you do when he does is all indicated in the flow chart.

make sure you don’t make this about obedience. When you say “. But he will easily follow a gentle feel on the lead rope or a little movement from me or the flag and come right back to being calmly focused on me and attentive”, thats great, as long as his feet took him to the end of the lead rope. Dont fall into the trap of trying to keep his attention all the time, that’s not what this exercise is for.

Thank you – this is helpful. If he is standing still calmly but looking around at things, is that a sign that the “standing still and present” isn’t there yet and I need to sit and breathe until he stops looking at stuff? Or if he’s relaxed about it are we good to move on? Trying to figure out the balance between “present” and “not trying to keep his attention all the time” if that makes sense. Basically … how good is good enough?

Warwick Schiller avatar Warwick Schiller (Administrator) December 14, 2023 at 10:37 am

Is he looking at those things calmly, or with a high head?

Help. While my horse doesn’t move his feet, he’s very touchy and wants to engage with his muzzle constantly. So, he’s not really being still ‘4 feet away’. I don’t feel like this is covered in the flow chart, unless I say yes, he’s aware of me in a negative way and I step back when he tries to engage and just keep trying to maintain 4′? Or do I need to go back and get some more drive and less draw? I’ve also seen a video where Warwick just pushes the cheek away until his horse quits, would that be suitable?

Warwick Schiller avatar Warwick Schiller (Administrator) January 11, 2024 at 11:22 am

Just engage with him, as much as he wants. Thats part of the process, meeting his needs,m and having the human learn patience.

Sorry, you can disregard, I watched the videos with Sherlock in Flowchart Options and it looks like I should just acknowledge him. The flowchart doesn’t seem to mean that we need an actual 4′ distance between us. 🙂

I have a slight issue with focus and bend using the flag. I find I get a bit ‘flappy fiddly’ swapping hands in that moment which isn’t ideal if she is anxious. So this doesn’t help the situation. I initially swapped what hands in used as was in unexpected moment of her v anxiou due to events
Suddenly starting in an area next to us (a fiimg location started setting up- didn’t know this would occur but there weee flashing lights, trucks reversing. And lots of vans/trucks coming in- what timing)!! I would ordinarily have the lead rope in my nearest hadn’t to horse although have tried the other way which feels odd (am right handed and old habits die hard, as it’s the way I have always done if leading from
left of horse). I have another issue though in that I have some arthritis in hands and there has been a bit of a ‘flare’ with that lately (not yet controlled) and also shoulder so if I have lead rope in right hand I struggle to bed round left with my shoulder to use the flag . So I am trying to hold lead rope in left hand (horse on right of me) or right hand if horse on left of me. But it’s odd. I think I am going to have to practice this one but definitely find my left shoulder more restrictive to bend in behind me than right shoulder. Any tips?!

Warwick Schiller avatar Warwick Schiller (Administrator) January 25, 2024 at 10:29 am

” definitely find my left shoulder more restrictive to bend in behind me than right shoulder.”
i dont think theres any time in this exercise that your shoulder needs to bend behind you.

Addendum to my message I mean when need to do ‘horse attention ‘following lead rope’ as per flow at and not focus and bend!!

I have now started the next lesson and you have clarified in there and the timing of this and that you definitely switch hands as soon as they start to or you can tell they are about to walk off by their energy and intention! So it’s just about practising that without a horse I think! So I am not all fingers and thumbs when I change hands in this scenario of flow chart !

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