I've recently taken to unhooking Chapiro when we first go into the school. Mostly I don't have a plan and just hope for some glorious intervention. I realise I'm lucky to have sole use of a school and a distinct lack of finger wagging onlookers to brand me as a fruitcake, otherwise I may think twice about this practice.
It seems completely natural to be chilling in there with him but I wonder what he makes of it? Often he marches straight over to the mat and stomps upon it in eager anticipation. Sometimes he goes off to sniff sand and checks out the poles, cones or whatever is in the school.
Today he pawed at the mat for a few seconds and then went off and decked all the cones,before coming over to see me, perched on my mounting step, for a scratch. I wasn't in a hurry to work and in fact I had more or less decided not to do any formal work so I sat and watched him make his tour of the poles and other paraphernalia. I couldn't help smiling when he picked up my in-hand whip in his teeth and brandished it in my direction as if to say 'shift yourself woman'. I guess that was a pretty clear signal that he wanted to work so I did indeed shift myself!
It's well known that in general horses like routine, they like to know what's coming and even if they're not exactly counting the minutes in anticipation of their next visit to the manège they still have expectations of what will happen once they are in there. Usually the human will lead the way, direct the pace, call the shots as it were, what happens though when we 'abandon' our role? Having been the leader, earned the horse's respect and treated him kindly he is happy to follow our lead and take our directions and when he finds himself suddenly in control of his own destiny he goes to all the things he's learned in the school as if in some way they might inspire him. I would like to pursue this with Chapiro and perhaps do some free shaping clicker work during the sessions, who knows, planning isn't a big thing with me any more.