The wild games
First of all, the wild games don't need to be that
The wild games aren't a goal in themselves; the goal is not to have a horse who madly runs and bucks around as soon as you take off the cordeo or give the signal. The wild games instead are a means of teaching the horse that more energetic, 'wild' mimicry of your behavior is very much appreciated by you. This way you can stimulate him to show more energetic, collected movements, which you can then put on a cue and incorporate into the more mentally and emotionally collected part of the training (the exercises of level 1 and further) so that he is concentrated enough to listen to your suggestions on how to perform these movements better and even more healthy than he does now.
But first you need to teach him that he can be energetic and wild at all, and that's where the run to me, run with me and run away from me comes into play. You can start with the first run to me game as soon as your first training of teaching the cordeo (if are using a cordeo). You can take the cordeo off or leave it on, just as your horse likes best. Some feel more free to react without any tack, others will feel more concentrated and connected with you when they wear something that means that you're training. Run to you
The first wilder game actually immediately starts with what you want to achieve: mimicry. You don't commando him to run, or pressure him into running, but instead you show your horse that running is fun - by running yourself. Run and walk in big circles around your horse, and as soon as he starts to show interest in you (looking at you, or taking a step towards you), you stop, walk towards him and reward him with your attention. Stay with him for a short while, and then go and do your thing again - untill he shows interest again! If you or your horse get bored, then walk or run around while playing with a ball or stick. As soon as he gets interested, you stop what you're doing, pay him a visit, and then go and play on your own again.
Quite soon your horse will want to share in what you're doing. Because he notices two things: 1) you're having fun doing something without him, and more important, 2) you're not asking/forcing him to join. So it must be something interesting - as not-work related - indeed. So the key is to always walk away from him before he does! When he shows interest in you, you go to him and stay with him untill he gets bored and walks away, you need quite some time to get him interested in you again. Make yourself interesting, and therefore scarce.
When he realises you're fun to be with (having fun on your own when he's not with you, and rewarding him with attention when he shows interest), he will want to do more to earn your attention - by starting to walk to you. If he does so, now stand still where you are or walk a couple of steps towards him, but not the entire stretch anymore. Now he knows that if he wants to earn your attention, he needs to come to you in order to earn it. He can realise this in a couple of minutes or a couple of training sessions. Give him the time, don't demand too much from him - and especially don't make the training sessions last too long! Because when you bore your horse, he certainly won't get inspired by you.
When he eagerly walks towards you, you can ask for more: now ask him to trot towards you. The way to ask him to do this, is again by making yourself scarce: When he now walks towards you, you walk backwards while rewarding him with your voice for coming to you. The rules now are: when he walks to you, you walk backwards; when he starts to trot towards you, you stop or even walk towards him in order to reward him big time. If you are consequent in this and walk back whenever he just walks towards you, soon your horse will start to trot towards you whenever you call him and take a step backwards - something that not only teaches him to move around more, but also can be used when asking him to walk towards you while lungeing.Run with you
When your horse starts running towards you, you can ask him to run with you. You can train this by asking him to run towards you by walking backwards, and when he's nearly there with you you turn around and run away from him. If he does follow you in a trot or canter, you stop after a few steps already and reward him big time. Then you can slightly run more steps together before you stop - but do keep in mind that you always have to be the one who stops first! If your horse slouches to a walk or halt before you do, it means that you've lost precious signals that he was bored before that moment, and he will start to doubt you - because how much fun is spending energy when it's boring?(addition by Bianca:)
You can also just start with rewarding your horse to walk with you. So when your horse is not running towards you, you can walk alongside your horse and reward when your horse follows you.
When you walk alongside your horse you can teach them to run/walk at the distance of your fingers with a stretched arm. You can see this in the AND video when you see Evita and Bianca run together. You can start relaxed with this and speed up in trot when you feel the horse totally understands it. Teaching this makes the wild games safer.
Learning to walk on your right and left side depending (switching sides behind you) on which arm is stretched out provides a very fun game.
Before exercises like rearing I would suggest to teach your horse to keep a bigger distance. You can do this by running back and forth in straight lines (A X C .. C X A) and asking your horse 'distance' and praising when he/she does. You can just halt and give a treat when your horse increases the distance from your stretched out arm, make sure you walk towards your horse when you give the treat. But before this the horse must know not to walk too far in front or behind you. Make sure your horse knows to stay at shoulder/shoulder or head shoulder position. **Run towards and away
If your horse gladly runs towards and with you, you can try to see if you can ask him to run further away from you, and then back again. You can do this by running/walking with him, and then suddenly turn 180 degrees and run away to the other side. Your horse will follow you first maybe just slowly because he's confused with this change of plan, but soon it will become more comfortable and he will start to use this freedom to get more wild and unpredictable himself too. He actually mimicks your behavior. When he runs away or towards you, ask him to run to you again and reward him. When this is really settled, you can ask him to run away by not only turning away from him and run away, but next also run a bit towards him for a couple of steps when he runs towards you too soon for your liking. Do be very carefull with this! It's very easy to place too much pressure on your horse like this, and he can get easily get overexited, stressed, scared or even agressive. When he does show signs of being stressed, immediately stop the game, walk backwards and ask him to come towards you, comfort him and then do low-energy exercises only in order to let him regain his trust in you and the training again. You might discover that the running away doesn't suit your horse mentally because it makes him too agressive, stressed or insecure. In that case, believe him and just practice the running towards you and running along with you. Those exercises too can give you the key to collected movements because your horse still mimicks you. So what happens when you start running slower, more upwards, or jump up and down next to you horse?Important: Don't overdo the wild games!
As already written down in this topic, the wild games aren't a goal in itself. The reason for that is that the advanced wild games (you moving only a little, your horse moving a lot, running and jumping around you) raise the adrenaline level in your horse to quite an extent. This means two things: some horses will lose themselves in this play, suddenly get scared and try to flee, while others suddenly get angry and (pretend to) attack you. This is because your horse in the wild only shows this level of energy when in play, flight or fight, and there's a thin line between them.
So don't do the wild running or chasing games a lot or a long time (only three to four minutes at a time) because they not only make the horse more alert, but very easily agitate him towards being stressed too. Playing is fun, but it also means that things become unpredictable - and when you as teacher become too unpredictable, it stresses or even scares the horse because he has to watch your moves all the time. He can't blindly trust you and your movements anymore. That causes the adrenaline level to raise which means that the horse can't relax anymore. If the adrenaline gets too high, some horses will want to flee, others want to fight. So if your horse during the wild games suddenly bolts off, or tries to nip you, see that as a sign that he gets stressed and learn from that: make the wild games at least shorter and maybe also less during a training.
Another thing to keep in mind is that a high-adrenaline horse won't be able to think straight and concentrate anymore, just as a highly agitated or scared horse can't eat anymore. So the wild games do stimulate him to get more active and bold, but it's on the same time a game that's not really concentrated. So even though it can produce collected movements, for example the passage, it won't be done consciously and not on cue, and he won't be really conscious of the way he performs the movements. So in order to make these high energy movements more conscious, in control and also more healthy. Because the 'wild variety'
of the passage will probably be with a hollow, tense back and a too high neck. When that's put on cue during the wild games, you take it out of the wild games and incorporate it into the calmer part of the training in order to shape them into a more conscious, healthy collection. That way your physical collection still benefits from this high-energy play, but you also keep the mental and emotional collection your horse needs in order to keep focused and concentrated.Edit by Romy: Here you can find a related discussion where some of our members describe how exactly they get their horses to play: Running and play