How to build that “Herd of Two”?

In the last post I mentioned the concept of the “Herd of Two” —

so how can we build this?

I would love to hear the things you have all done that have helped you develop your Herd of Two — I am sure there are many things I haven’t thought of – -in the meantime, here are a few things I do:

Start at the beginning:  when I went to halter George, in the 19 acre field with 18 horses in — I would walk around the field, asking George to stay behind me, and if he showed ANY concern about other horses approaching him (an ear twitch, a nostril flare, a change in tension levels — or not happy staying behind me for example) I would put myself between him and the other horse — and ask the horse to move away.  This had a huge impact on him: he realised I was taking care of him — ALLOWED me to take care of him — and suddenly handed over leadership and trust to me.

In fact, with all my horses, they know that once that halter is on, or once they are “with me” then they don’t have to worry about any other horses, as *I* will look out for them — this is very powerful

Build it on the ground:  taking my horses out on online hacks means I can do a couple of things:  I can practice reading their expressions, so learn how to know their signs of worry, concern or playfulness; it also means I can support them by changing position, putting myself nearer their head, or between them and the scary thing  — I can also use my online tools to build confidence with scary objects, developing my horse’s realisation that when she is with me, nothing is scary and I will take care of her…..

I can also use ground games to help my horse become braver — or more attentive to me — I can use obstacles like car washes, flags, tarps to prove to my horse that I will never ask her to do anything she can’t do, that I will never rush her, that I will make things interesting and rewarding when she “tries” and that the most important thing is that she tells me how she feels:  if I can trust her to tell me when she is worried, bored or concerned – then I can feel confident!

Building up to doing the groundwork with other horses around will really strengthen the Herd of Two you are building

Take it to the saddle:  once your horse is “looking to you” on the ground, you can think about how to take this Herd of Two mindset to the saddle.  When starting out –having lateral flexion and disengaging (or small circles) as a practiced exercise to help your horse relax is very useful.  Then, finding some trustworthy friends to ride with (if you can find some who are also wanting to build their Herd of Two this would be ideal) and playing “Herd of Two” games like “watch this space”,  “mind the gap”,  “Leapfrog”, “there and back” — and playing them at all gaits. This is what we do on the Hacking with Confidence courses and 5 days of this has an amazingly positive impact on your “Herd of Two”.

These are some of the things we use  — what ideas and experiences do you have in strengthening your Herd of Two?

yours in confidence



3 thoughts on “How to build that “Herd of Two”?

  1. It took me a long time to learn about the herd of two.It wasn’t till I went to my first Parelli class I learnt about it.Up to then I’d always been on the defensive because when anything went wrong it was “The Mule!” Suddenly I found myself among people who said “How interesting” and used it as a training session.
    One day at a play day I was crossing a ford between two fields and someone elses’ horse broke loose and came galloping over to say “hello” insted of fiddling around with Malaga I stood between him and asked the horse politely to go back to his mum we weren’t interested.That’s when I knew I was starting to protect my herd of two and taking the pressure off Malaga.

  2. I have just found this blog and absolutely love it! My husband and I are building the confidence of a very nervy young cob who is also very curious and clever (interesting combo!), and all of the above have been part of our routine for the past 6 months and have really worked wonders. We also practise having her stand still and us moving away and then inviting her in to build her confidence in herself. Thank you for this blog! X

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