Work in-hand &
Leadership begins from the ground and creates the foundations for everything we want to do. Horses are like a mirror for us. How we move and act around them is meaningful to them.
Our posture, our presence, our confidence, our attitude, our private thoughts, are all important.
How we behave with our horses either creates interest and inspiration, or distance and hesitation. Horses know who we really are - they sense our authenticity, or lack of it.
There is much learning to be had from the ground, lunging on line, at liberty off line, and in-hand in the bridle. Or simply hanging around in the field together. This is where partnership begins.
From these beginnings we can develop relaxation, balance, impulsion, and rhythm. We can correct typical problems with asymmetry, rushing, straightness. In hand, in the bridle, we can teach the horse all the rein aids, all the flexions, how to relax and mobilise the jaw, how to extend the neck and seek the hand, how to bend evenly, how to flex the poll and come 'into the hand' correctly: high light and balanced (mise en main).
Beyond this, once we have balance and lightness in halt, walk and rein-back, we can begin all the lateral work in-hand: shoulder-in, travers, renvers, half pass.
Once the horse understands so much from the ground, there is no need for any 'breaking in' or surprises from the saddle. Everything is established on the ground - the progression is then a natural one of learning to balance the rider while applying what has already been understood about a connection of trust between the rider's hands and the horse's mouth.