Most horse people are unaware that many horses used by humans in everyday riding have become dull – to survive they have tuned out most of what is going on around them. Horses generally want to get along so between being yanked around, spanked with whips for things they don’t understand, poked with spurs, and made to live a life they would never choose, the spark in their eye becomes dimmed and the submissiveness of the slave rather then the power of the partner takes over.
Within a few weeks, Dante showed through bucking and his unwillingness to lunge, he was making a Statement. Partially this behavior was due to pain and partially he was testing to see what I would do. Would I force him through the typical means to “behave?”
I made the decision to start working him with Liberty. With Liberty work, the horse is worked without tack in a large enough area that he can leave if he wishes to do so. JMO but a roundpen is too small to allow true Liberty; a riding arena or small pasture is more fit because the size allows the horse to retreat away and not be influenced by the psychological pressure that the presence of the trainer applies. It gives room for him to take off, buck and rear, without endangering the trainer who uses proper precautions.
At Liberty, you can easily evaluate your horse’s feelings about the work. Does he stay or go?
It also tests the patience of trainer. I would be lying if sometimes I don’t get frustrated to the point that I would prefer to go back to traditional, dominance, do-as-I-say type of training. Traditional, pressure training, especially that which requires equipment (i.e. draw reins, side reins, martingales…) gains quick results because horses are easy animals to dominate and are hard wired to get along.
Right now I would love to throw a saddle up on Dante and ride! Instead, though I’m still working on convincing Dante that what I want can be what he wants.
Last night he had high energy because he wanted a second snack (I don’t usually come back in the evening and I had given the ponies a snack so husband could work on Dancer’s hooves). With that energy we did faster work – and at one point he rebelled, going off and levitating all four hooves off the ground!
This behavior was too close to me so I sent him further away and then I became still and waited. He turned and looked at me. I waited. He walked back to me and I asked him again to move at a certain distance from me. He complied calmly so I treated him and we ended the session.
Liberty is great but as I explained to him it’s House Rules. Those Rules at Liberty is I determined how close you can be to me. I don’t want the last thing I see is my brains spilled out in front of me.