1. Go riding on your pony and find a path which has several options. As you approach the fork, decide in your own mind which you want to take, without giving any aids to your pony. Does he choose the same path?
2. Most ponies have a bogie place out hacking, where they spook. Next time you approach this place, relax your body, smile and picture a big bucket or pony feed in your mind. Does your pony react any differently to normal?
3. Out hacking, or when schooling, decide where you would like your pony to change pace – either an upward transition, or a downward one – in a place where you might not normally change. Set yourself a maker – a tree, perhaps, or a post in the school. As you approach your marker, imagine changing pace and see whether your pony picks up your thoughts and does as you imagine.
In the yard
4. Take three identical buckets into an enclosed space – an outdoor school, for example – and put the buckets in a row. Place a carrot in each bucket. Now let your pony loose in the space and concentrate very hard on just one bucket. Does your pony go to that bucket first?
5. Take a mint or pony treat and transfer it from hand-to-hand so both hands smell the same. Stand in front of your pony, put your hands behind your back, then bring them both to the front at the same time, the mint in one of them. Do this 10 times with 10 mints, varying the hand the mint is held in. How many times does your pony choose the hand with the mint? (Don’t forget to give him the mint!)
6. Ask a friend with a mobile phone to help you and get them to stay in the yard where they can see your pony in his stable. Out of sight, with your mobile on, imagine yourself in the stable, then going to the door and looking out. Does your friend text you to say your pony has mirrored your thoughts and put them into action? You can vary this experiment by imagining yourself taking a drink, shaking your head or anything else. Does your pony copy your thoughts?
In the field
7. Go to the field and, instead of calling your pony, go to another part of the field. Visualise your pony looking for you. Does he come over and find you, or can you see him even looking at you?
8. If your pony is in the field, go to the gate at different times. Is your pony waiting there for you, anticipating your arrival?
Don’t be downhearted if these experiments do not produce results instantly. It may be that your bonding powers need some work and you both need to tune in, and this takes time. If you do get good results, see whether you can build on them. Who know where your bond can take you!