Game #4 The Yo-Yo Game
Send the horse backwards, away from you, and bring him forwards to you in a straight line using your lead rope. The object is to get backwards and forwards equal and light. Use 4 phases and the "hinges" in your finger, wrist, elbow and shoulder. Start at phase 1 by just wiggling your index finger at the horse. Phase 2, wiggle your wrist so it affects the rope only slightly. Phase 3m bend at the elbow and shake the rope using your lower arm. Phase 4, straighten your elbow and shake your whole arm and watch how much more the rope moves. Only escalate the phases until you get a response. The instant your horse moves backwards, stop! This will let him know he's done the right thing.
It is also important to keep both your horse's eyes on you. As soon as the horse turns one eye away from you by turning his head, you will lose the back up and the straightness! Pay attention to the details and make corrections before it gets off course.
You can play the Yo-Yo slowly at first, on flat ground. As it gets better, get more provocative and play it on uneven ground, at a faster pace, over a pole or log, or on a longer rope. This is how you teach a horse to respect your space when leading, to develop suspension and self carriage, improve his stop, develop a slide stop and teach him to come to you.
**Keys to Yo-Yo Game: straightness, responsiveness, imagination, four phases.
Game #5 The Circling Game
Do not confuse this with mindless lunging! The Cirlcing Game develops a horse mentally, emotionally, and physically. It teaches him to stay connected to you and get the tension out of the line between you while maintaining his gait and direction.
There are 3 parts to the Circling Game- the send, the allow, and the bring back. All of it needs to be done without moving your feet. To send the horse, "lead" his nose in the direction you want. If the horse does not follow the rope, lift the tail of your rope and swing it towards his neck. Once he is traveling around you, smile and pass the rope behind your back, giving the horse the opportunity to take responsibility for maintaining gait and direction on the circle. This is the "allow" part. Do a minimum of two laps and a max. of four laps. If you have to continuously ask your horse to keep going, he is winning the game. Trust the horse to do the right thing. If he stops, turn and face him with a concentrated look, redirect his nose onto the circle and start again. When he goes, smile! To bring the horse back to you, turn and face him for Phase 1. Phase 2, start reeling the rope in until you have enough tail in the rope to lift it. Phase 3, swing the rope towards his hindquarters. Phase 4, touch the hindquarters until he has swung them away and faced you. Again, stop and smile at any moment the horse makes the right response. Bring the horse al the way in and rub him (back to Friendly Game). Disengagement of the hindquarters (swing them away from you) is very important. It is how you teach a horse to be easily controlled- mentally, emotionally, and physically.
**Keys to the Cirlcing Game: Three parts- Send, Allow, Bing Back; four phases; allowing horse to learn his responsibilities.
Game #6 The Sideways Game
This is teaching the horse to go sideways equally left and right, with ease. The two important areas on the horse for this are the neck and nose area, and the hindquarters. We'll call them zone 1 (the nose) and zone 4 (the hindquarters). You need to play the Driving Game in zone 1 then zone 4. Send zone 1, then zone 4, then 1, then 4, etc. until the horse straightens out and loves laterally sideways. Allow a loose rope and a little distance from the horse to get moving but not so much distance that he could turn away and kick you. Sideways is important for developing suspention, lead changes, spins and to balance out forward-aholics. Start slow and right, use a fence or rail to help prevent forward movement while the horse is learning.
**Keys to Sideways Game: loose rope, Driving Game in zone 1 and 4, four phases.
Game #7 The Squeeze Game
Horses by nature are claustrophobic. They are afraid of any small or tight space.
The Squeeze Game teaches your horse to become braver and calmer, to squeeze through narrow spots without concern. Start with a large gap (it may have to be very large) between you and a fence, wall, or even a barrel. Ask your horse to go through the space while you stand still. In the beginning, it may help if you walk backwards and parallel to the fence to help your horse squeeze through. The reason walking backwards works well is because it helps draw the horse towards you. For Phase 1, direct your horse's nose into the gap. Phase 2 lift the tail of the rope. Phase 3 swing the rope a few revolutions. Phase 4 touch the horse behind the withers once. Then stop and begin again until the horse tries to move forward into the gap. As soon as he does, release the pressure, smile and relax. Pretty soon your horse will make it all the way through. Stand still and allow the rope to slide through your hand as he passes by you so he feels total release. You want to avoid him feeling a jerk backwards on the rope. As your horse becomes more confident, make the space smaller and smaller until it is jsut 3 feet wide, like the stall of a horse trailer.
You can use the principle of the Squeeze Game to teach the horse to jump, go into trailers, wash bays, starting gates or roping boxes. Getting less claustrophobic also helps a horse accept the cinch.
**Keys to Squeeze Game: Walk backwards, start with a large space and move in small increments to smaller spaces, use four phases, play it will practical objects like trailers and jumps.
The next challenge is to get all Seven Games equally good!