Bubble; shield; force field; invisible wall. Whatever it is called, the ability to create a space around animals and maintain it is critical to people training animals. It keeps them from being kicked, bitten, crashed into or run over.
I like to picture a giant, clear plastic ball that surrounds me. It is in the ground below my feet and in the air over my head. I have absolute control of my invisible ball and can expand it or draw it in. If I need too I can keep an animal at a greater distance by making my invisible ball bigger. I can also shrink my ball until it is a tiny ball inside me at my core.
Whatever helps you to visualize the area is fine. Just visualize an area that your horse or dog is supposed to stop at and never, ever, enter without your permission.
The purpose of this invisible ball is to establish a zone that your horse or dog is never allowed to come into without your permission. This ball is what keeps you safe from aggressive or over active animals.
With people who have difficulty with this concept I draw a circle around them, or make them stand in the center of a hula-hoop. Then I tell them to visualize the area extending all around them as if they are standing inside a giant, clear ball. Their task is to make their horse or dog stop just outside this zone, and stay there until they either invite him further in, or go out to him.
A well-established bubble can save you from injury. I had a friend over to ride one time and we were walking through my pens. A higher-ranking gelding began chasing another horse. Just as my friend was walking through a gate opening the mare charged for the same opening. When she saw a human in that opening she bounced off the invisible shield, and ricocheted off in another direction. This was only about a year after I had been taught how to create that protective shield, but the incident made a real believer of me.
It is a simple task, but one that requires persistence and concentration. You make certain that your horse or dog always, no matter what, stays that magic distance away from you until you invite it closer. It is a matter of knowing where the zone is around you, and if the horse or dog comes into it you send her out of it – every time!
It usually isn’t necessary to do any more than quietly back the horse or dog to the line, but sometimes you have to get firmer with an animal who is used to casually walking all over people. That type may take a lot longer to convince, but even they can be taught to respect your personal space. You must make the line of demarcation so strong in your own mind that you automatically move a horse or dog outside it, every time the animal crosses the line.