The cordeo can be an elegant, beautiful tool, but it can also be a tool of force and domination. One can use the cordeo with pressure or one can use it with feel. It is all too easy to forget that the cordeo is primarily to be used once the horse and trainer already understand the cues. To quote my friend Karen, “One has to have the relationship and willingness and full cooperation of the horse in place first, before one uses the cordeo.” I think this is very true.
One also has to be fully in control of oneself before asking the horse to listen to those quiet, soft signals. As humans, it is “natural” for us to want to dominate or force a horse to do something. With cordeo training, you must ask, rather than demand, and your horse must be willing to comply. Otherwise, it is simply a game of tug of war, not elegance in motion.
In using a cordeo, I have found that it is a simple matter to stray from the principles of lightness that I began with. One can pull and tug with force on a cordeo, defeating the purpose of the delicate tool. The cordeo is a tool to be used once you don’t need. This has been harder for me to comprehend and accept. You must first have a relationship with your horse at liberty. Liberty and lightness never come from the horse, but from our minds. It is never the horse that pulls hard, but, rather, it is us.
So, to sum up:
- Always use the cordeo lightly, as a snowflake settles on the ground
- Liberty and trust must come first
- If you make a mistake, don’t worry, just do better next time
- Don’t forget to have fun!