First of all the horse has to learn to stand still on a defined spot. Here you see young Manjerico, a three year old Lusitan stallion who is practising for the first time. He is fidgety and not at all sure what is expected of him. He will only then start to listen to me when I have made clear that he has to stay in a respectful distance to me. It is important that I may limit his space but do not hang on to him. The rope stays loose all the time, it is only used for a short limiting signal and is slack again at once. Here also the free will and autonomy of the horse is of great importance, the horse actively makes the decision to accept the comfort zone I provide.
Manjerico has learnt to stand still with the lead rope completely slack confidently awaiting new things. I can now start with mounting for the first time, I put weight into the stirrup, lean over the horse to get him used to a weight on his back. Manjerico stands calmly on his defined space because I have given him no signal to move. In this schooling phase I deliberately not use help from the ground because I want to have the horses complete trust in me.
Now the young horse will be led with a rider on top. I go backwards while leading him to keep a close eye on his balance, which is of course difficult for a young horses. Also I can control him better and limit his forward movements being vis à vis and in eye contact.
When I have the feeling that the young horse is calm and relaxed I change my position and walk next to the horse. I let my hand rest on his cervical spine to sense any tension in the horse. Should he tense his back I could feel this in his neck at once, can stop and wait until he has relaxed again.