One of the criteria for a TTEAM exercise is that it can always be broken down to make it easier. The labyrinth is our most commonly used and basic configuration. Although most people know our basic labyrinth there are many variation that can be used.
Benefits of the labyrinth: The Labyrinth helps teach obedience,
correct balance, self-control, patience and focus for
In Greek times it was said that if you go into a labyrinth with a question, you will come out with an answer. While I am not sure that is true for the horse it does have the effect of calming and focussing and maybe that is the key. Walking through the labyrinth asking the horse to take one or two steps at a time and stop in the corners as well as on the straight will really help to influence your horse's balance.
Besides using the labyrinth with horses we also use it with dogs and have used it with cats who have had neurological dysfunction. In the case of cats we generally lure them through the labyrinth with a wand or a cat toy.
You could also vary the length of pole used or even go to using ropes places on the ground or cones to outline the labyrinth if poles are not available.
There are also other interesting variations that change the experience for both horse and handler. Remember every time we change anything - adding a body wrap, moving it to a new location, adding saddle or a rider - we change the context of the exercise.
Here are some drawings to give you new possibilities for the experience.Place tires at the end of each pole inside the basic labyrinth.
This gives a visual effect to help the horse bend around the corners.
Open either one or both sides of the labyrinth to make a 90-degree
angle instead of a180 degree turn. This is easier to ride through and
has been used for therapeutic riding, as the turns are less dramatic.
Place poles on top of the labyrinth - as you walk through it gives a different visual effect for the horse and the experience of stepping carefully over poles.
Rope labyrinth - this type of labyrinth is being used with people as a form of meditation. Using two ropes about 60' long make an opening about 3 feet wide to walk the horse or dog through and then turn in the center and walk back out. You can also use flexible tubing or hose to make this type of labyrinth.