Fun/strange ideas for movement explorations... when you feel stuck or just want to inspire some different, possibly better movement patterns, my favorite tip is to experiment. You cannot know what will work with any specific horse, and you cannot know whether something will work NOW but did NOT work a month ago. Even a tiny change can matter, but here’s a few ideas.
NOTE: this assumes the horse has NO fear/anxiety about it!! .
💡Put a blanket/rug on the horse and then play at liberty. I always forget how much impact this has until I *must* put one on just after clipping. It can be awesome, because you get an immediate proprioception boost, and they feel the sensations which allows for new movements. Make sure it has stretchy straps. The strongest effect is in the first 20 minutes, then begins to wear off, but you can alter it on different days with trying different blankets. Stretchy blankets are the best!
💡Put vet wrap around the fetlocks, loosely, not tight, almost like a bracelet. (See Dr. Hilary Clayton for a study on how “bracelets” can alter — and often temporarily increase/improve movement patterns just slightly, potentially helping rehab, but also works great for movement variability). The effect usually wears off in just a few minutes, so it’s a quick one!
💡Make a Proprioception Garden with strips of different footing: river rocks, pea gravel, sand, wood chips, etc, and walk the horse across it before work or ANY time!! Does not really work much with steel shoes, as they prevent most of the proprioceptive information and stimulation. But can still work somewhat with more flexible boots or composite shoes, but barefoot is best. This can sometimes bring DRAMATIC change and takes just a small unused out door space anywhere.
💡Get a feather duster and swap it with your dressage whip/stick once a week. Instead of tapping, “swish” or brush it across the horse in the area you have been traditionally tapping. But ESPECIALLY across hindquarters. Put reins in one hand, put the duster in the other and brush it over the top of the horse’s croup. If you have not tried this, you might not know what your horse is capable of!
💡Try singing 🎤😁