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Connection and what affects it.

Updated: Oct 17, 2020

The box theory is something I use quite a lot to help people understand connection, and actually works very closely with the connection wheel. Of course both of these are part of my very own library of strange little sayings that (hopefully!!) help you remember what might be affecting your connection.

Imagine this - draw a box around you and your horse in motion. When you are stretching or walking on a loose rein this is probably more of a rectangle, however when you start to ask more it becomes a box.

Now imagine this box being 3D it has a front, back, 2 sides and a lid. Hopefully we don’t have too much trouble with the lid!

But now imagine as you ask you horse to work, they find it hard so try to make the box bigger somewhere, this might be by:

1) Dropping the back door - by slowing down

2) Speeding up and running through the front door

3) Falling in - inside door

4) Falling out - outside door

Any of these sound familiar!? Particularly when you ask something a bit more difficult of the horse?

By opening a door, all the good energy that you create towards connection can be lost.

Some horses are particularly obvious about how they open a door e.g by falling to the fence, or breaking in the canter, however others are more subtle and might just simply work with one shoulder popped to a direction. In an ideal world we should always be working to keep all the doors shut, however there are times when we as the rider can open a door, to help the horse shut another until they are strong enough to do both. For example if you are struggling to keep the canter, without trotting you might allow the front door open just a little bit (or become a bit more like a rectangle), so the horse feels like it can still move forwards, until you can establish a consistent rhythm, then as the horse develops the strength to do this you can start to shut the front door again. Another example might be when you first teach a horse a new lateral movement, although they must stay forwards, you may take the ‘flash’ out of the trot so the horse has time to understand what is being asked of him.

For a consistent connection all the doors must stay shut. Which door does your horse open? Or do you leave one open!? 🧐

The other part to consider is the connection wheel, when part of the wheel is not working correctly, the energy may not make it through to keep the connection wheel moving.

When you use your leg something should arrive in your hand

Connection is the connection you create, with the horse, connecting the energy created at the back end to the horses front end.

  1. It starts with you using your leg, which ask the hind legs to work.

  2. This energy is then pushed through over the horses top line to the bit.

  3. Half halts then contain the energy,

  4. Ready for you to use your leg again.

  5. Wheel complete✅

However there are several factors which can hamper this wheel from completing its circuit!

Did the horse respond correctly to the leg aid?

Is there a block somewhere in the top line e.g tightness through the neck or back?

How is the weight in the rein? no weight or uneven weight in the rein?

Contact is the 3rd scale of training, which means checking in with your rhythm or suppleness is a good idea, as both can stop the wheel from moving.

This is where the box theory can tie in, as if there is an open door the energy may not make it over the top line.

🏵🏵REMEMBER THE EARLY STAGES OF CONNECTED MAY NOT PRESENT AS ‘ON THE BIT’, but if you use your leg and the horse takes your hand, there is the start of a connection!🏵🏵


If you want to know more on this subject - don't forget I have an online course on the scales of training for just £10 at the moment over on

Horsey Courses

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