Follow, Match, Lead. 3 Steps to Better Connection

You can build great connection with your horse by paying attention to your own movement. Horses are born to mimic and move together in a herd. This harmony is part of how they build strong bonds and you can use this fact to build your bond too.

In this video, I teach Claire Waldron to focus on matching her steps with Selena’s and you see that they then create beautiful togetherness in movement.

Follow Your Horse’s Steps

The principle behind this is Follow, Match, Lead. You start by following your horse’s steps. This can take a bit of concentration and you will need to walk at the pace the horse sets. Stay with this and reward any moment you feel a better connection. Look for small moments at first…don’t expect too much too soon!

Matching- The Feeling of Togetherness

After a while your horse will start to also focus on keeping pace together. This is the Match phase. This is the partnership growing. As you see in the video, it’s a bit of a stop and start process at first, but soon you are both walking together in perfect harmony.

Lead Your Horse to Higher Movements

Once you reach this stage, you can start to Lead the movement. You see Claire suggesting which leg they lead off with. Soon she will be able to add in choosing which leg they halt with, whether they step backwards on halt, and lateral movements, which lead to turns on the forehand.

It’s a great way of building connection with your horse. It also transfers directly into riding. In that case, it is the contact of each seat bone which is in harmony with each hind leg. By working on the same principle of Follow, Match, Lead, you will soon be able to direct each hind leg with your seat connection. Clever, eh?

This is the second blog in my three-part series on building connection through body awareness. Check out the first one, on Breath Awareness, here.

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6 thoughts on “Follow, Match, Lead. 3 Steps to Better Connection”

  1. I have a question about this – when I do this with Dut she is getting really good at walking and stopping along with me with the round pen but as soon as I go outside the round pen it falls apart and she keeps walking off ahead of me. I know she is watching me because if I halt she halts but she won’t stay beside me walking. Any tips?

  2. I had the same problem with Mijo, and I was SO frustrated because I thought we had it down. But then, I realized that I had changed the context and needed to reinforce the same patterns outside the arena. It took about five minutes for him to understand that the same policy applied.

    1. I’ve been trying this but we don’t seem to be able to make that connection. Dut ‘got it’ in minutes with the round pen but outside even if I reinforce every 2 steps it’s not working – she will do 2 steps, stop for reinforcement, wait for me to move off, she moves off too – but too fast.

  3. Nice video, something I’ve learned from my Parelli-instructor.. first follow your horse and when you feel in synch you can try if the horse wants to follow you.. But what do you do if your horse wants to stop all the time and doesn’t feel like walking? Do you ask? Or do you just wait and do nothing?

  4. I know this is an amazing exercise. In the past when I’ve been so scared when riding and i was told too breath slowly i always thought it was just for my benefit and to calm me down i didn’t realise the impact it had on my horse lol : ) . At the moment i am adopting a little dog called Mini-Egg, she has had a very bad start in life( a very abusive/violent one) so the adoption process has been very slow. She’s very scared and anxious and the re-hab team are doing clicker training with her. To cut a long story short on my of my visits to see her and take her for a walk she was a little anxious so i decided to try the breathing technique on Mini-Egg and it worked. Her pace became slower and she started to relax more. It was just lovely to see. : )

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