In this first segment, I am looking to allow the horse space and time to accomodate my approach. If he is attentive to me without bracing (a soft turn of the neck) I leave him and circle again. His natural tendency to like people, keeps him engaged with me. His habit of bracing, pushes me away. There is a back-and-forth/ give-and-take kind of dance going on.
You can see his tail switching during my approaches. This is a subtle signal that the hindquarter will brace from any pressure (such as my intention) placed on it. Once he moves forward from me, he positions himself against the rail, and braces with his left hindquarter — notice the angle he takes to keep the hip positioned to back me off of him. This then becomes the focus of the events that follow — to release the bracing in the left hindquarter. But I do not take offense at this, nor do I seek to punish the bracing. My attitude is soft and focussed — just the same as the behavior I want to see in the horse. I must BE the behavior I want to see in the horse. Therefore, I take up his bracing as an “offer” — as if I had asked “and what would you like to work on now?” — and he had answered “how about this bracing hindquarter– see how it braces so.” He nicely moves off the rail by bending through the hindquarter.
If you look closely, you might also see why this horse presents unusual difficulties in his training program. As he releases in the hindquarter, he braces in the shoulder. Therefore I work on alternating between the shoulder and the hindquarter.
My intention, attitude, body position — espeically the position and angle of my own shoulder and hips — are all crucial in this work — I must not pose a problem to this horse, who needs his confidence built up piece by piece, from one small and brilliant success to another.
Here is part 1 of our first session: