Step 21 – Focus & Bend

Step 21 Focus & Bend

If your horse tends to have more “draw” than “drive,” or if you’ve already mastered the “Leading with Energy” exercise, it’s time to shift your focus to the “Focus & Bend” exercise. You can find the instructions for this exercise in the introductory video provided here. The remaining videos in the playlist demonstrate how this exercise was taught to several horses. Note that it was previously referred to as “Collision Avoidance” in some videos, so you might come across that term as well.

If you’re planning to work on “Focus & Bend,” here’s a critical reminder: Before you begin this exercise, ensure that both you and your horse are in a state of mental and physical presence. Your nervous systems should be regulated, and you should feel good. This means that you won’t initiate this exercise until you and your horse are fully prepared (this goes for anything you do with your horse).

To start the exercise, send your horse off to the left because they are more accustomed to looking at you out of their left eye and are generally more comfortable with you on that side. This principle of starting with the easier or more comfortable side is something you should carry throughout your training.

It’s important to be patient and understand that progress may be gradual. You might only reach step 1 on your first attempt, and the results may not be perfect, which is perfectly fine. During your training journey, remember when to conclude a session:

1. If your horse is receptive and quickly learning, stop when your horse successfully performs a particular action three times in a row.
2. If progress is steady but not exceptionally smooth, stop when your horse shows improvement in areas where they’ve been struggling.
3. If you encounter setbacks or regressions, stop on a positive note or when you see any forward movement.

Note: Only work on the left side in the beginning. We won’t move onto the right side until the left side is perfect (it might take a couple of sessions)

A reminder of how to use this course: click on Mark Complete below and move to Step 22 tomorrow.

4 Comments
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Hi Warwick! I change side when the left side is perfect at walk, trott, canter or just walk?

Warwick Schiller avatar Warwick Schiller (Administrator) December 10, 2023 at 11:36 am

Usually I will get both sides good at the walk first, before starting on the higher gaits.

I am having trouble determining when to let my horse stop once I send him and he starts moving. How long should I attempt to keep him moving with my “mom” look on his hind and/or flag? I seem to miss that perfect moment to let him stop. Should I let him stop after he takes a few steps voluntarily without any flag involved?

Warwick Schiller avatar Warwick Schiller (Administrator) March 8, 2024 at 11:48 am

When he makes a change is the best time to stop. So you stopping your asl should coincide with a mental change from him, whether its from standing still to deciding to go, or the change from going with low enrgy to going with more energy.

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