Here’s a video of Paden and I playing a bit.
Paden’s a paint gelding who I’ve been working with some at the horse rescue where I volunteer. He’s a nice little horse and has had some training. However, he still has lots of things to learn. He tends to carry his head quite high and will sometimes brace through his neck against pressure, rather than give to it (such as sometimes when leading).
We’ve started working on head lowering exercises and on an exercise parelli calls Smell Your Tail. Basically, it’s just like it sounds, the horse bends his neck around and smells his tail! This is a good exercise to work on flexion and to help stretch all of those neck muscles. Also, by bending his neck, he naturally begins to lower his head.
For Smell Your Tail, I decided to focus on working on the principle of stretching and relaxation. I didn’t want to touch Paden’s head at all, since I know his gut reaction is still sometimes to brace against pressure. If I had physically moved his head around, either with my hand on his head or with a lead rope, he could have tried to brace against the pressure.
Instead, I did a bit of luring with treats at first, to encourage him to bend his neck and look at me. Then, I quickly switched it over to a cue of wiggling his tail to ask him to bend his head around (of course, after he did it successfully he got a click and a handful grass).
Here’s a short video clip of us playing. This is my third time playing with Paden and our second session working on Smell Your Tail.