Today, I was playing with both Cherish and Hope free in the pasture. I had a lightweight bamboo stick with me, about 5 1/2 feet long.
I used the stick very little. I encourage my horses to communicate with me honestly–I don’t pressure them to stay with me during this type of work, or to be right or perform in a certain way. I try not to correct or punish or add negative pressure. I just encourage and allow honest feedback.
In allowing honesty I found that there still needed to be less stick, even though I was using the stick as a very soft guide/aid (helper/explainer). And the more I played, I found that each movement, each specific, tiny movement of the horse–whether that be flexing the poll toward me, and to what degree, or bringing the hind leg under, or bringing the shoulder toward me or away from me–all of these could be guided through the dynamic movement and functioning of my body, my intention, my energy, and my connection to the horse. There really was no need for the stick.
And still, I occasionally used my crutch, mostly not to make things clear to the horse, but to make things clear to myself, because the horses already understand and know how, if only we can figure out how to explain it well.
In revisiting this blog post, this is really also about understanding and being aware of our bodies and our movement and learning how to express what we want through body language that conveys the intention, energy, the elusive “feel”.