I think the brilliance of it is that instead of complicating it by "working near other horses" and having to figure out what to do while near a barn or while near other tied horses, it's making being with them hard work. Go. Be near that horse. Be near it at a trot and do it a lot, with lots of changes of direction and lots of different targets. Oh, you're tired of pushing horses around? Come over here away from them and catch your breath. Wanna be near them again? Okay...move them around. Smart horses would be like, "Screw being near them. Take me out of here and let me be."
Thank you for the compliments but don't give me too much credit! I didn't invent this idea, I'm just interpreting an idea learned from others. :)
You're onto the basic idea but there are a couple of small but important differences in the thought process between what you're saying and what I'm thinking when I do it. I'll number them as the whole numbering system seems to be working out well so far! Hope this helps:
1. I'm not trying to make being with the other horses into a 'bad' place to be. I don't believe that it's actually possible to convince a horse not to want to be with other horses. The moment you unsaddle your horse, get in your car and drive away guess where she'll go right back to 100/100 times? Horses want other horses, those are just the facts of life. So instead of trying to change that I just recognize the horse's other
desire to be comfortable and find relief (when she offers it) and then direct that desire to a place of my own choosing, away from the others. In other words what I'm saying to my horse is "the herd is fine, but standing content with me in the shade is better".
2. You know that thing that happens when you're riding and you want to go one way while the horse has a strong pull in the opposite direction? If you turned in the direction that he wants to go in that moment and opened him up wide he might jump out of his tracks at a gallop and run all the way to his destination. That is energy
. Life in the body and feet. Now, you want your horse to be light and responsive to your requests in general and to make the moves you want to make, right? To do any of those things he needs life in his feet. You can't direct a dull horse! So there are two basic ways I know of to put life in a horse's feet. You either put life in them yourself with your aids (seat, legs, spurs, stick, voice), or you can use the life that's already there, harnessing his motivation to be where he wants to be to provide the life you need to direct those feet. The difference is, doing it one way you did it to him. Doing it the other way, he did it himself. He thinks that he's doing what he wants to do, but he's actually doing what you want to do - so you both win.
That's a lot of words! But to sum it up: If the horse stands still away from the herd, it's good. If he goes back to the herd, it's good.
Or as Buck Brannaman put it: "most people see a fidgety horse as a problem. I see it as a gift". < this will reward closer study!
3. As far as motivating one to want to stand still and rest, I go mostly on instinct here. Recognizing when she's thinking about stopping to choose my moments to offer a rest. She doesn't always take me up on the offer! But if she doesn't I'll just go back to work for a few minutes and then offer again. Keep repeating the offer until she accepts and it should eventually work. But don't be discouraged if it takes a few hours on one that's really confirmed [in the herd bound behavior]!
There's one more quote that's helped me in thinking about this last part, this one by Martin Black:
"It takes relief for pressure to be effective, and pressure for relief to be effective".