Getting the horse’s attention is the very first thing to establish – and it’s important that it’s the right sort! There are basically two types: fearful attention, where the horse sees you as a threat, and trusting attention, where the horse sees you as a potential leader. Obviously, it is the second type we want.
While the horse is giving you his undivided attention, he is vulnerable. Every instinct tells him he must be on the look-out all the time – so getting the attention may not be so easy.
In action: getting and holding the attention
Stand about 1 meter in front of the horse, and notice what distracts his attention.
Gently direct his attention back to you by tugging gently on the rope until he looks at you with BOTH eyes.
As soon at it does, release any pressure in the rope and gently stroke the horse’s forehead.
If the horse steps forwards, shake the rope to send him back out of your space and try again.
Take a step to one side, and the horse’s attention should follow you.
If it looks the other way, or does not follow you, tug gently on the rope as in exercise 1 until it looks at you with both eyes.
As soon as it looks at you, stroke the forehead to reward the horse, and repeat the exercise moving to the other side.