For the past few sessions I’ve had with the horses, I’ve been playing with increasing the amount of positive reinforcement I use, and using more aids that are either invisible or almost invisible. If I’m not getting what I’m asking for, I might decrease my idea of 100%, or make it more clear or easier for the horse.
It’s interesting to begin playing with. I’ve only been using a white Dressage riding whip. It doesn’t have a string. Sometimes I’m using the rope halter and lightweight lead (in a cavesson style with the rope connected to a connector piece in the middle of the noseband), but if I do, the rule is that I’m not allowed to pull on it, even if the horse is drifting. I’ve been playing with Cherish without ropes (and in the pasture) quite a bit, but it’s interesting to note that it’s easier for me to help both horses be successful when the line is on. They know its there and are more likely to drift a little bit and stop if they are unsure of something, rather than getting unsure or irritated with what or how I was asking and entirely leaving.
While in a learning phase, this buffer that encourages them to stay with me while I’m playing with the components of how I’m asking and what I’m asking for is extremely helpful.
The only time that I have used the stick more than a slight touch or a tickle was when Hope came in from the circle and just about side-swiped me. This took me off guard a little bit, but I realized that it had occurred only because of what my internal intention and body language were communicating.