My SECRET to true liberty with your horse
As the horse world has moved away from tradition and towards a way of being with our horses that promotes mutual trust, choice, and respect, many people have been drawn to liberty work. Liberty is seen as allowing horses more freedom, independence, and ultimately more joy. But unfortunately, liberty has often been misrepresented. We don’t give our horses a sense of liberty simply by removing tack, we give our horses liberty by allowing freedom in their mind.
We don’t give our horses a sense of liberty simply by removing tack, we give our horses liberty by allowing freedom in their mind.
How liberty is often represented:
* Riding off into the sunset bareback and bridleless
* Performing tricks
* Conditioned behaviours
What liberty actually is:
* A state of mind
* A true feeling of freedom
* Empowering for the horse
Our horses need to find freedom of the mind to join us in TRUE LIBERTY
When I meet new students and we begin our training, one of the main focuses is for the horses to find freedom of the mind. Without freedom of the mind, our horses lose their beautiful movement. Horses that are trained under a dominance model - even gentle pressure and release, slowly and bit by bit become automated in their movements, flat in their bodies and lose interest in connecting with their human. Many of these horses trip. They are following instructions so they stop thinking about their own bodies. I also see a lot of horses spooking and shying away from things, and the trainer struggling to see why it happened. Again, a great deal of spooking and shying is caused by horses that are in an automated way of moving. Their minds are under the control of the trainer and every now and then they snap out of this and spook.
You can take all of the tack off these horses and work with them in an open space, but it is not liberty for them if they still feel pressured to give a certain response from their past training experiences. True liberty is encouraging the horse to feel free in their mind – to give a true & honest response to what we’re asking of them. Attunement is truly listening to and respecting that response.
True liberty can look like a horse leaving us when they don’t like what we are suggesting
True liberty can also look like a horse trotting towards us full of power and pride because they feel good in their body and mind
When we work with our horses at liberty, they have the freedom to:
* Give us their opinion about what we’re suggesting to them
* Show us how they’re feeling through their movements and body language
* Develop their self control
Step by step liberty with your horse:
- 1. SUGGEST: Make a suggestion to your horse. Maybe you can start walking and see if they’d like to walk with you. Their answer may be that yes they would like to walk with you or, it may be to do nothing, or it may be to leave. Take the time to read your horse's body language to see how your horse is feeling at each step.
- 2. ACCEPT: Accept the answer your horse gives you - if they choose to walk with you stop after a few steps and acknowledge them! If they choose to walk away - celebrate it!
- Remember, true liberty is freedom to choose.
- 3. BUILD: Build on the conversation - if you and your horse are walking together you could take some time to match your breath to your horse. If your horse choses to leave, let them go with a smile on your face 🙂 - then call their name and invite them back. You can then present them with a different idea. Try to keep the conversation flowing rather than be task focused.
Now it’s your turn to take the above and head to your horse! Let me know how you go 🙂
Rolex shares with us her training joy! She has just started in-hand work and this is how happy she is afterwards. Why? Because whether she has tack on or not, I focus on keeping freedom in her mind.
I would love for your to leave your thoughts on my SECRET in the comments section below.
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