The basic exercises
For the basic exercises and what they look like in real life, see the AND movie on this on Youtube:
When your horse knows the basis movements that prepare him for working at liberty and/or with the cordeo, you can teach him the cordeo-signals, because you have already established a subtle communication between you two.
The cordeo cues cue for four specific type of movements, both with the head, neck and entire body. that have several meanings at one. These meanings These four types of movement are:1. Up and collect
Cue: Lifting the cordeo upwards
This cue asks for:
Flexion of the poll (ramener, bending the head into a collection-like position, Transition to halt, Back up2. To the right
Cue: Lifting the cordeo sideways so that the right half of the cordeo comes off the neck and the left half embraces/blocks the left half of the horses' lower neck.
This cue asks for:
Flexion of the head and neck to the right(into the opening of the cordeo)
The shoulders moving to the right(into the opening of the cordeo)3. To the left
Cue: Lifting the cordeo sideways so that the left half of the cordeo comes off the neck and the right half embraces/blocks the right half of the horses' lower neck.
This cue asks for:
Flexion of the head and neck to the left (into the opening of the cordeo)
The shoulders moving to the left (into the opening of the cordeo)4. Down and stretch
Cue: Placing the cordeo-hand on the withers/manes, or softly pulling the cordeo down from under his neck.
This cue asks for:
The horse lowering his head and neck and therefore stretching his back. It can be asked both in halt and in movement, and is to become the default posture of the horse when he isn't collected.
These four directions are very easy to understand for the horse because of the preparation exercises. Also the groups of movements behind every cue are logical because the movements are built on top of each other . Teaching the horse to flex at the poll when you lift your cordeo and using that same (slightly longer or more backwards guiding) aid for halt and backing up, will mean that the horse will start to halt and back up with a good, collected neck position all of his own, which is very good for the development of both his neck and back muscles - and therefore for the development of collection.
So if you lift the cordeo in order to ask for flexion of the poll and the horse responds by walking backwards - don't correct him. He's doing the right thing and he's telling you that for flexing the poll your cue can become even smaller. ExercisesBending the neck to the right and to the left
In the exercises in preparation of teaching the cordeo you have already taught your horse to move away from pressure -without using any pressure at all. This cordeo cue means the same; you lift for example the right side of the cordeo away from the shoudlers. Because of that the left side embraces the lower neck and the right side opens up; your horse should move his head to the right. Some horses respond to this naturally already, so reward the for that! Then you can ask them to bend their head away and towards you, left and right.
If your horse doesn't respond like that immediately, you can tell him more clear what you ask from him by pointing with your hand, then touching with a finger, then with all your fingers on the side of his neck where he should bend away from. Reward for the slightest try, even if he only moves a millimeter to the right side!Moving the shoulders to the right and left
When your horse really has mastered the bending of the neck on your cordeo cue, you can ask him to bend his neck away from you to the left. And then, instead of dropping the cordeo again, let it in the same position asking his neck to move further to this side. Let your horse think this over. Some will find the answer all by themselves. If not, you can try again another day and then use your hand and fingers on his neck as extra guide.Flexing the poll / Ramener
This exercise is not the beginning of collection, but the beginning of correct using of the back in collection. Some want to teach the horse this exercise also by avoiding pressure, but we'd rather not. The neck is a fragile bodypart and the ramener should come from the horse discovering this stance by himself.
The aim is that in the end you pick up the cordeo from the withers so that it embraces the base of the neck and the horse flexes his head. To teach him this, you can use the method of avoiding pressure and place your hand on his nose and keep your hand over there untill the horse flexes at the poll and bends his head inwards. If he does so, you immediately let go and reward the horse. Then you combine your hand on the nose with picking up the cordeo, untill the horse bends at the poll at picking up the cordeo alone.
The other method is to teach your horse to follow your hand on his own. You place your hand a centimeter behind his lower jaw or chin and wait till your horse touches it. You praise him a lot, and then you slowly start to move your hand further back from the lower jaw untill the horse takes up the position you want. In the meantime you can also start touching the base of his neck and chest as cue for flexing the poll: you hold your hand out for him to touch and if he doesn't, you touch the front of his chest with the back of your hand to show him where you are. If he touches your hand, you reward him! The touching of the base of the neck not only keeps your horse focused, but most of all this is the place where the cordeo will embrace him when you ask for the flexing at the poll with the cordeo cue, so that the transition to cordeo is very easy, especially when you use the same voice-cue as you did before when asking him to touch your hand. Backing up, halting
The cue for backing up is essentially the same as the cordeo cue for flexing at the poll: you raise the cordeo from the withers and then squeeze in it with your hand in the direction of the tail. Do not pull! Just give signals. If your horse knows the flexing at the poll, he will first try that, and seeing as the cues keep coming, then start rocking his weight backwards. Rewards for that immediately! The sooner you reward for the slightes try, the more willing your horse will become to show you that he can actually give you more movement in the right direction.Stretching the head down
If the horse already knows the preparational lowering the head exercise, then this exercise won't pose any problems for him, as the cue to lower the head on the cordeo is almost the same as the cue for lowering the head when just stroking the neck.
An added benefit to this exercise next to the ones mentioned in the preparation exercises, is that it not only physically stretches and mentally relaxes the horse, but that the head stretched down also blocks energetic, forward and upward movements like the Spanish walk and rearing when you don't want those. Walking on the cordeo
When these cordeo-exercises prove to be no problem anymore, you can start to practice them in walk: Ask your horse to walk with you at the height of his shoulders and then ask him to walk straight lines and big circles next to you, to halt, step backwards, flex his neck and flex at the poll, and then try the same from the other side.
If your communication is well established, you can try to see if you can also do the straight lines and big circle in trot. If your horse walks away from you, you just let the cordeo go, or if you have a leadrope attached to it, let it slip a little through your hands and then just walk with your horse from a distance, mimick his movements while staying at shoulder height and slowly move back to his shoulder again. If he turns to you or slow down when you do this, thank him! He is redirecting his attention to you, and that's the basis of all further training.
When moving, try to ask your horse to lower his head and reward for that. If your horse can walk relaxed with his head low and therefore with good backuse, he can also be taught to keep the relaxed back but now with a higher neck and flexed poll. You reward that when he offers it or when he reacts to your question, but also accept the lowering of the head in between when the horses'muscles grow tired and he needs to stretch them. Not keeping the muscles tight will make them strong, but exactly this tightening and stretching all the time!
Also, don't forget to pause during this high-concentration work frequently by taking breaks and run with your horse around without cordeo.