I've worked hard to get through to Patxi, my Paint, and get him thinking more rather than simply reacting or anticipating.
He has been doing very well with this, but, as with any horse, there are ups and downs, peaks, and plateaus in our communication and training processes...
This day, he was reacting to the flag near his flank as if it had Coronavirus, wildly disengaging from it, and then was switching into anticipatory mode and just sidepassing towards me if it came off the ground.
I needed to remind him that the flag in and of itself was nothing of importance. It was the INTENTION I attached to the flag that he needed to tune into.
The intention could be:
2) move off the flag
3) move towards the person holding the flag
4) think of the flag as a fuel supply for your motor, let it drive you
5) affection (use the flag as an extension of my hand)
6) proprioception (feel the flag on parts of your body you may have forgotten or left inactive)
Patxi got it! And, the more he thought about and paid attention to my intention as it was being expressed through my body to the flag, the better he felt and the more I was able to flow with him rather than be a pressure for him.