As you progress through the Levels Program, you learn to communicate with your horse on longer lines… Then you’ll start using shorter lines again to begin building more collection!
Higher gaits and transitions on shorter lines are much more challenging and require more mental, emotional, and physical collection from your horse. For instance, cantering on a 22-foot and 45-foot Line is relatively easy compared to cantering on a 12-foot Line… Or trotting and cantering on a 6-foot Savvy String – while you stand still! The horse has to really find balance and engagement to do this, which is why you should wait until about Level 4 to play with this idea. If you ask the horse to do it before he is ready (mentally, emotionally, and physically), he will not be able to do it and lose confidence in you as his leader and teacher.
As you get to Level 4 and beyond, think about playing with your horse on a Feather Line, 12-foot Line and 6-foot Line (Savvy String), or at a shorter length on your 45-foot line to both test and develop your horse’s athletic prowess. Just do a little at a time and build it up from there until you can get three or four laps.
Be aware that this is quite strenuous for the horse and you don’t want him to get stressed – mentally or physically – or he’ll start dreading his sessions with you.
That’s why a few steps at a time, then half circle, then one circle, and so on, is a good idea for building it up over a few weeks. And remember to stand still so your horse can focus! If you have trouble doing this, put a Frisbee or some kind of marker on the ground and keep one foot on it.
This will make sure your circles can be round and your horse is doing it by himself, without you moving your feet and adding energy.
Keep it Natural!