I just felt the need to add that
My Phase 4's arent hitting at least not aiming to, I will aim for a spot righttttt behind her..
Im thankful I dont have to do these anymore though.
Risking that I am not fully understanding the Phase 4 concept, but I think the desired impact psychologically can be achieved in many ways.
I want the horse to understand I am his or her companion, not the herd boss, or the lower heirarchy herd member. OUR relationship is special!
I am offering to teach her, hopefully using some of her own horse "language," who and what I am and what OUR language is to be. But I must respect that much of what I introduce is all new to her.
So patience and tolerance must be my theme.
That you are insistent on her respecting your space, the social boundaries you are establishing between you, just as you would with a new friend, is of vital importance.
It can be done with a pattern of patience.
Horses are extraordinarily sensitive to the nuance of escalation and de-escalation. Raising and lowering pressure, with the emphasis on rewarding responses to de-escalation are the stuff of taming the wild horse.
Mustangers must do this and know this well.
When to back off is MORE important then when to increase pressure. Much more.
And there is where the sensitivity of AND comes into play. Being clear in our intent to be a companion rather than and owner. A friend rather than a "trainer."
And play, just as you are doing, is the tool. Just as it is in building new human to human relationships.
I'm considering next exploring the possibility of taking meals with my horses, just as I do with folks I want to be closer to in my human relationships. As it is Kate and I take many meals in better weather on the deck right next to the horse's grazing in the little backyard meadow, and talk with them, and sometimes stop and go play with them, which includes, of course, food treats.
Like three year olds we do not play cooperatively YET with Bonnie. But the time is coming as it does to the four year old human child ... that we do cooperative play. Just as many AND members, yourself included, do with their more mature horses. Bonnie is right on the edge of that experience.
I test it regularly with our two children's activity balls...about 12 inch in diameter swirling colored plastic balls. She is only mildly interested. Though every day I dribble them (as in soccer) around her feet and all about in front of her.
She is starting to see them differently, and I expect her to interact with them and us in the coming months, all on her own, just as human children move to the next level of development.
Watching what YOU are doing convinces me about certain developmental aspects of the growing horse, and too, how social relationships develop between horse and human.
In the past, and in the orthodox horseworld, this youthful playfulness of the horse gives way, under human pressure, to compliance. If it were not so sad I'd at least count it as rude and an insult to the development of the horse's own psychology and potential.
It is exciting to me to read your diary, as you can very likely see without my saying so.