Dancing Pete Rhodda's

Playground of Safety

The most powerful, yet underrated, technique I've ever found, learned and used. Created by Dancing Pete Rhodda

Playground of safety


Before I ever start Tapping on a horse, I always do Playground of Safety. Playground of Safety is an exercise to allow the horse and human to relax before you begin your Tapping. Horses must have their Safety and Comfort needs solved before you add additional stress. 

The Tools

To do this powerful exercise one needs 3 things:

1. long rope

2. stick 

3. time

The Technique

1. Find a spot to stand relaxed with your focus not on your horse. 

2. You will have a bubble around you that is yours to protect. 

3. Your horse will have a doughnut of space surrounding you and your bubble (you are standing in the doughnut hole). The outer edge of the doughnut is created by the end of the rope. 

Your horse may do anything it wants to do in his doughnut as long as he doesn’t come into your bubble, or pull on the end of the rope. 

Introverts usually start frozen/standing still.

Extroverts usually start with flight/moving. 

Wait for your horse to relax enough to move if he was still; or to relax enough to stop if he was moving. 

As he relaxes more and more, he will move through these cycles of movement and stillness. Each time he changes, he is becoming more relaxed and more present. This is incredibly important to do.


Tick-Tock-If your horse pushes on your bubble, you must drive him out using the Tick-Tock technique. 

1. Turn away from your horse (so it doesn't feel like you are attacking).

2. Raise your stick straight up (this becomes the pre-cue to say, you are in my bubble, they figure this out super fast and will start moving out of the bubble from just the lift of the stick soon).

3. Put your stick on your belly button with the tip at the height of his nose (if you keep the tip lower than the nose, the horse will reach over the stick to push on you).

4. Turn in the direction of his nose one step at a time, swinging your stick toward his nose, then away from his nose, approach and retreat, until you either tag his nose or he moves out of your bubble (the Approach/Retreat is super important here. The approach gives him the cue to move, and the retreat gives him time to process that cue and actually move. Many Introverts/High Freeze/Ignore horses will freeze when they feel the stick coming toward them/Tick, the pressure is too much to process, but by adding the Retreat/Tock, these horses can think and learn to respond correctly).

5. Relax again on your spot (This is what confirms to the horse that the Tick-Tock wasn't an aggressive move. He sees there is a clear answer, and Relaxation follows it. He will learn to seek the relaxation).

Will Tick-Tock Damage My Relationship with My Horse?

Many people don’t like doing the Tick-Tock to keep their horse out of their bubble, they just don’t see the point. They are concerned it will damage their relationship with their horse, when actually, it is the best thing you could do for most, if not all, horses.

Why does my Confident Horse Push or Pull on Me?

  Confident horses will push on the bubble or pull you off your spot because:

1. They want to see if you are an adequate leader before giving up the leadership to you .”If you won’t keep me out of your bubble and keep yourself safe, why would I expect you to protect me from something that’s trying to get both of us?”

2. They want to play, be entertained. “I don’t see you as a leader, I see you as someone to chew on, move, play king of the mountain.”

3. They want to see if they can get your feet to move. The one that causes the other to move is the leader.

Why does my Unconfident Horse Push or Pull on Me?

Unconfident horses will push on the bubble or pull you off your spot because:

1. They know the safest place is in the center of the herd. If you are a herd of two, the center of the herd is in the middle of you.

2. They may try to leave bc they don’t trust you will keep them safe. They will leave before you do, so you are left to get eaten, not them.

3. They will want to stand super close, but not pushing, so they can ‘parasite’ or draw from your energy. Horses are hardwired to mirror their herd for safety. If they do perceive you as their leader, they may want to stand close to mirror your energy. This works great if you are always perfect, never get nervous, anxious, frustrated or angry. If you do, they will be sure the sky is falling and really lose their marbles. “If something is upsetting my leader, I know the end of the world is near and I am petrified!”

Playground of Safety Gains for Every Horse

For every horse, protecting your bubble has tremendous value:

1. It gives them the space to move or freeze, and relax. 

2. It takes you and your emotions out of their mind. They cannot ‘blame’ you for their emotions.

3. They must address what they are feeling and find a way to self-soothe with a distraction, and without you taking over the soothing process.

4. They get the time they need to process and gain confidence. This is on their time table, not ours.

5. The exercise mimics the way a herd drives out the young members (especially colts) when they are challenging the pecking order/leadership within the herd. 

6. It gives them the space to get comfortable in their own skin, and come back to the relationship as a confident, relaxed, partner capable of filling in for you on one of your bad days/moments.

Playground of Safety is a powerful exercise that can solve many problems. It is one exercise, it doesn’t mean you will have a bubble that large forever. It just means that you can establish a bubble if you want one, like every leader. If a leader chooses to change the rules and allow you into their bubble, then its fair. If a leader chooses to lock their door and keep you out, then that’s also fair. 

Coming Soon: What To Look For in Playground of Safety