I really want to focus on strengthening my leadership, so that eventually I can safely ride Brody and take him out on the road. Here's how I worked to establish my physical space with Brody this week.
First, Brody did not want to be haltered, especially once he caught sight of the rope and stick. So I swung the halter towards his hindquarters and got him moving off whenever he started stepping away from me. When Brody wheeled to face me, I turned my back to him and stand still while counting slowly to ten. Then I'd slowly walk to him (in an arc rather than directly towards his nose), again either moving him off if he stepped away, or stopping with my back to him if he moved to face me, After about five minutes, less than other times in the past, Brody stood still for the halter.
To work on establishing my personal space, we played "follow the leader". Brody will use his size (he's 16.2 hands) and try crowding me to influence what we are doing. For this exercise I walked off, letting much of the rope slide through my hands, and then closing my hands so that Brody followed me. I'd walk forward for a bit, then stop. If Brody came closer than the stick's length (4 feet), I'd shake the rope to get him moving backwards. If he didn't respond immediately and with energy, I'd whack the rope clip with the stick rhythmically until he stepped back outside of my space.
Every now and again, I'd take a few steps backwards towards Brody, flapping my elbows and shaking his rope in the process. Again, if Brody didn't match my speed, I reached back and whacked the rope clip. To keep things challenging, I changed speed, even getting him up to a jog. Sometimes I'd stop, then continue forwards again, sometimes I'd suddenly start moving backwards without stopping first. After a while, Brody got good at matching my steps, even just a single step back or forth.
Now, of course, I've got to keep this up. The other day I heard trainer Clinton Anderson saying that the most progress is made when you work with your horse every day, even if it's just for ten mintues, and that gave me hope that we can continue to make progress, even when time is tight or the weather isn't cooperative.