The two pictures on this blog are of me and Mercury conversing about Spanish walk and Piaffe. I taught Mercury about collection at Liberty so he could learn to find it on his own before I asked him to do it while ridden. As someone who has studied virtually all schools of horsemanship, My discovery of Liberty and my Journey since it has become the cornerstone of my training, has been the most fun, the most rewarding and the most effective way I have found to interact with horses.
It is an amazingly simple and powerful way to communicate and train horses. It’s simple as that. When I apply this work I find a way to connect and communicate with my horses’ true nature. I find a path that suits the horse I am working with. I find that at Liberty my horse can give me real feedback about his mind set, his body, and his comprehension of what I request. I can see if I am using too much energy, or not enough. I can see if I am being truly clear in my language.
The horse can tell me which side they favor and then I can set about working with them on equalizing on their terms. Every horse I have worked with has offered me incredible efforts with complete free choice to walk/run away from the request I am asking for.
Here is a common way I would introduce a concept like correct Natural Lunging to a horse at Liberty so they would have no trouble understanding the request with the line on. Most horses find circling on line difficult at first especially in one direction. Some, find it so difficult they will keep switching back to their favored side or even rip the Line right from your hand. This horse is telling you they are having difficulty with circling. I can help my horse learn to read my body language at liberty for direction and then to maintain that direction. Once that happens, They can understand the concept of Lunging on a line. They should also be able to keep their inside eye on me most of the time so that I can help them find the bio-mechanics on the figure we are working on. With that, they get the suppleness and gymnastic benefit. Once these Liberty FUN!damentals are consistent, you have the foundation for asking for lateral movements at Liberty and on Line. You also have the foundation for building symmetry and equilibrium in your horse.
Another huge benefit of Liberty, Is allowing horses to explore movement on their own and without the burden of a rider or the interference of a line, gadgets or tack. Sometimes a person may use lines unconsciously in place of proper body language and timing. People often don’t understand how much more effort it takes for a horse to perform with us on their backs or how even the slightest pull on a line can impact the horse. When you add possibly confusing communication and position and balance issues and you’re asking you horse to overcome a lot. Once they understand the exercise on the ground at liberty or at least the concept of the exercise, Then you work on line or in hand and then you ride it. With this approach, You have created a really nice flow for the horse to follow and it creates a horse that tunes into you and you guidance. this leads to less tack dependent communication.
My favorite reason to train using Liberty is the way it allows me to stay focused on my Connection and Partnership with my horse, It gives me instant feedback on my horses’ feelings and it keeps our relationship real and honest.
For those people that think it has no benefit to riding, I solve the majority of mine and my clients training “issues” through Liberty. From Spooking, rearing/bucking and Behavioral issues to Physical Rehab, Bio-mechanics, Suppleness and Technical training. And to those that think it is slow. It is by far the fastest, gentlest way I’ve seen to solve these issues in any approach. Amazingly so and with no tack or gadgets. All that while keeping a bond and trust with the horse!
Those of you who may need a check up or continued support from afar or if you don’t have access to a Trainer in your area that offers this work, consider my Virtual Coaching program. If you would like to try it, You will need a video of you and your horse no more than 15-20 minutes long practicing whatever you would like help with (Liberty, Line, or Mounted any discipline english or western). The easiest way to share video links is to upload them to your Youtube, Vimeo, Facebook or similar account and then share the link with me. Once I have received your video, We will set up a time to review on Skype (regular phone is ok in the US). On that call we will go over your video and I will give you a set of exercises to help your progress and practice for your next video and follow up. It’s that easy. Some people have a hard time getting help filming. I recommend getting a tripod and marking an area while looking through the lens. Try then to work within that area using cones or poles etc. to mark you camera’s view range. Contact me if you have more questions.