The Leading Position
What is it ? - Why is it important ? - How to achieve it.
What is it ?
The ideal leading position.
Easy to describe - difficult to maintain.
The handlers shoulder, level with the equines nose.
A relaxed rope.
Why is it important ?
Equilibrium - "a state of balance due to the equal action of opposing forces, powers and influences"
Equine and handler working together as partners.
An energetic connection between them.
A physical connection between them through the "relaxed rope"
Competitions can be won or lost through your ability to maintain it.
How to achieve it.
Firstly there is no magic formula. The ideal leading position can only be achieved and maintained when the partnership is strong and secure. Your equine needs to feel safe and relaxed with you, and you the same with him.
This takes time and should not be hurried. Awareness is the key to communication. Trust is the ultimate gift.
Let the obstacles pose the questions, allow your equine the freedom to explore and be curious, let him show you who he is and what he's feeling and watch his confidence grow.
Finding a "connection" requires some effort, mostly from you.
Make the time you spend with your equine in your daily endeavours and in your agility practice, meaningful, you will be rewarded for it, but don't forget to have FUN as well !
The " Relaxed Rope"
Your lead rope is your physical connection to your equine. As with any type of connection you don't want it to be hard and forceful, you want it to be relaxed and comfortable.
Try to see your lead rope as that, a soft, relaxed and comfortable connection between you and your equine.
That's the theory but of course in reality we know that's not always the case or even possible. Life just isn't like that!
The judges perspective.
Both the ideal leading position and the "relaxed rope" are seen by the judge as an "expression" of the quality of your partnership. He wants to see clear communication resulting in mutual understanding. An overall picture of "togetherness" The foremost principle of Horse Agility is creating, through the use of exploration and play, a strong partnership that is based on trust and understanding, it is this principle that we must strive to create throughout our practice.
Our Horse Agility UK judging criteria does not mark you down if you loose the relaxed rope, there will always be times when it is necessary or unavoidable to do so. The judge will mark you down however for pulling on the rope, either by you or the equine. Our requirement is that the rope is used to create connection, and that it is used politely for asking and giving guidance.
As you work your way through the different proficiency levels the judges expectation of your ability to maintain the connection and partnership is raised. Working at Newcomers and Novice levels his scrutiny of your leading position and rope is more relaxed, however by the time you reach Intermediate and Advanced he will expect to see a much higher standard.