Develop a harmonious relationship with your horse and with your life through balancing the language of “horsemanship” and the “bond”

The “Waterhole Rituals” are the tea ceremony to develop a harmonious relationship with a horse and with life. It is a continual practice in awareness and being present to the moment.

Photo by Sharolyn Wandzura Horse Portrait

The Waterhole Rituals create a deep friendship with a horse and a working bond that is the foundation for all equestrian pursuits. The Waterhole Rituals develop a horse that wants to learn and perform the task at hand while creating a feeling of well-being in a horse along with an optimistic attitude for what he does – the opposite of a trained bear.

What I find is that horses in general receive their well-being from sharing companionship with one another and enjoy this kind of relationship with humans too. However we do a lot to spoil this by not fulfilling their companionship need by the way we house them and the way we go about training them.

All the Waterhole Rituals are focused on developing a certain quality of connection that is present in a relationship where the bond is deep. I call these separate qualities of connection that each Ritual develops in a horse “the heart felt strings of connection” because they are the vibrations that exist when hearts are open and when there is a willingness to connect with one another.

Heart Felt Strings of Connection

These heart felt strings of connection are present in all relationships in all living things. Relationships grow when focus and attention has been given to developing the strings of connection. The ability to live and dance in harmony is increased when communication occurs in the moment that the relationship is strongly felt. If any of the strings of connection are broken from your leadership communication the bond will return stronger than ever, if at the time of the disconnect all the strings of connection were originally present.

Photo by Sharolyn Wandzura Horse Portrait

The continued practice of “Sharing Territory Ritual” grows the bond. The continued practice of the “Hello Ritual” grows the trust. The “Taking Territory Ritual” (when needed) builds the respect and order. With continued practice the “Leading From Behind Ritual” builds willingness. With continued practice the “Eye Contact Ritual” builds interest and attention. The “Companion Walking Ritual” is dancing in unity and the last “Liberty Dancing Ritual” is a gift of spontaneous expression you share together in harmony. These last two Waterhole Rituals are the gifts of dancing in unity and harmony with your horse from the result of your continued practice of the Waterhole Rituals.

All the Waterhole Rituals have all of the heart felt stings of connection in them in some form. When all these strings are shared both parties are aware of the needs of the other before their own needs and the relationship is at its best. Each “Waterhole Ritual” develops each string. For example, The “Sharing Territory Ritual” is about growing the bond but at the same time the other strings of connection (trust, respect, willingness, attention) are there and being practiced.


For my students to get the most benefit from each Ritual it is important to see all the strings of connection that are being developed within each Ritual’s practice. For example the “Hello Ritual” is about building the trust, but while it is building the trust it is also growing the bond as the trust is grown. Respect is growing from the fact that when your horse does not want you to approach him, you leave him alone by walking away from him when he walks away from you. The willingness is grown from the respect you offer to your horse. The focus is growing because of the attention you expect your horse to give you when you are walking up to your horse and want to be acknowledged. In the moment of the hello’s touch, all the strings are vibrating and we are only focused on developing the trust that the “Hello Ritual” is meant to provide.

Upcoming Clinics

From the practice of the Rituals and working on relationships with horses your horsemanship can’t help but to grow. You are employing the language of horsemanship and the language of the bond at the same time, creating the ultimate dance of harmony through relationship. If you would like to take your understanding of the Waterhole Rituals to the next level join us in California at the end of May 2013 for a 5 day clinic! Learn more and signup here >

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Have a great weekend!
Be on the lookout for new horse and human sightings and may the horse be with you.



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Teri Peery - 3 years ago Reply

Dear Carolyn,
I continue to use your rituals. Thanks for the reminder of how they all work together. I’m reading my notes from when I took your class. I’m doing well now and hope to continue on. Someday I hope to take a clinic!
Thanks for your wonderful blog!
Love from Teri, Tango, Rusty, and the new Dezzie here in Utah.

Ruella Yates - 3 years ago Reply

Dear Carolyn,
Thanks for this reminder of the flow of respect and love through the Rituals, vibrating with the Heartfelt Strings of Connection. Sending love from the Plains from the Herd at Spirit Horse Ranch, and

Tamara Blits - 3 years ago Reply

Thanks Carolyn, I will always follow your method, I wish everyone would.

Anna-Karin Hägglund (In a box and 2010 and EC spring 2011, BTWHR 2012, EC2013)) - 3 years ago Reply

Dear Carolyn,

thank you for a great and blog and for the clear explanation of all the strings.

I love it when I am out with the horses, like i was to day. I have no agenda more then given them hay, water and clean up in their pasture.

When I put out the hay I use to lay it in different piles so I can lead from behimd. take one pile of hay and the horses have to eat from the others aso.

Today the time went by too fast so i thought that I just have my orange, sitting on my pallet and sharing territory. the horses wanted to share the orange with me. I aked them to step away a bit from me and I had one wedge, I gave Ameri K one wedge and Zaritsa one, so we shared the orange between us. I sat down on my pallet and the horses where all about me so i had to ask them to move over a bit. After some time I felt that I should stand up and walk over to the hay. Ameri looked like saying :Oh, at last she got it!”
He companied me over to the hay. we stoped at the first pile for some hay, walked togrther to the next and next. I asked him to leave and come back. I scrathed him in between and sat on my pallet watching him eating. We had such a wonderful time and I could feel the string between us!

It is soo lovely when you can go out to your horse and work with what comes up. There are no fear, no pressure, no struggels… there is a go with the flow and I just love it!!!

Thank you Carolyn for sharing this way of being with horses (and humans) <3


    Carolyn Resnick
    Carolyn Resnick - 3 years ago Reply

    Dear Anna-karin,
    What you have just described is the result of the five piles of hay and the heart of the practice. This is a blog in its self. You and your horses became one from your leadership and from your practice. I am giving a clinic right now and I am going to cut up some apples and carrots and now some oranges and have a picnic of fun with my student and Honey and Trinity. Can you video your experience so I can have this as a guide of my students in the on-line classroom.
    If you could do this and I use it I will give you a spot in the Extended Circle program.

    Thank you for sharing,

      Anna-Karin Hägglund (In a box and 2010 and EC spring 2011, BTWHR 2012, EC2013)) - 3 years ago Reply

      Thank you Carolyn!

      I can try to video it and se what we can come up with..
      It sounds like a great idea to go out and have a pinic with the students and horses 🙂

      I wish you a great clinic !

      Warmly AK

        Anna-Karin Hägglund (In a box and 2010 and EC spring 2011, BTWHR 2012, EC2013)) - 3 years ago Reply

        Oh, I am participating in the extended circle right now, so I can copy my writing and put it on the classroom 🙂

Stuart - 3 years ago Reply

Thank you Carolyn…. always…

StephanieMorse - 3 years ago Reply

checking in, thank you

Elodie Belz (ICC spring 2011) - 3 years ago Reply

Dear Carolyn,

Just checking in today! I can only advise everyone to go the clinic at the end of may, it is an incredible experience!

Have a nice week-end,

CarolynBourchier - 3 years ago Reply

Dear Carolyn
Checking in from sunny England 🙂 I really can feel ‘the heart felt strings of connection’ with all my horses and it never ceases to amaze me how the waterhole rituals become a natural way ‘to be’ and the horses vibrate back to me their true understanding that I am here for them and they are here for me. Thank you, as always, for being there and sharing your amazing wisdom
Much love
Carolyn B xxx

BonnieJBeresford - 3 years ago Reply

Carolyn, this is a lovely and simple message – all the rituals contain all the heart strings of connection, with one string being emphasized in each ritual. At the start of my learning the rituals, they each seemed separate and very different from one another, and I focused on just one at a time.

With knowledge and experience, they all flow together, with one ritual at a time coming forward to be used as the situation requires, blending into one another so that they are no longer separate. That is why this lesson resonates so strongly as Truth.

Thank you for putting it into words.

Peace and blessings,

Toni - 3 years ago Reply


Such a nice blog. The definition of the Waterhole Rituals and their meanings shed much light into the ‘why’ of it all. The ‘Hello Ritual” is one that I practice several times a day. I never do anything with my horses without saying hello first. It has made a huge difference in their demeanor.

When putting my horses away for the night, my Fjord walks past me into his stall, and on the way in, turns his head toward me, gives me a “fist bump” with his nose (says hello) and continues into his stall. It is so funny looking that my husband remarked that it looked like some sort of genuflect with the nose. I had to laugh, because it is a rather respectful jesture. Thank you for such a clear explaination of these Rituals.


Marja van Run - 3 years ago Reply

(I can’t seem to post a comment – somehow they keep disappearing in ‘cyber space’. This is my third try)

Dear Carolyn,
I love how the Heartstrings of Connection are all represented in each Ritual, with a special emphasis on one specific heartstring per ritual. All is in all! Knowing this has really helped me in getting a feel for using the Rituals through the past years.


    Marja van Run - 3 years ago Reply

    I’m sorry to have posted three comments… At the time of posting they didn’t show up so I thought they had gone lost and tried again… and again 😉

Marja van Run - 3 years ago Reply

Dear Carolyn,
I love how the Heartstrings of Connection are all represented in each Ritual, with a special emphasis on one specific heartstring per ritual. All is in all! Knowing this has really helped me in getting a feel for using the Rituals through the past years.


Marja van Run - 3 years ago Reply

Dear Carolyn,
I love the idea of each heartstring of connection being represented in each of the Rituals, with a special emphasis on one specific heartstring per Ritual. All is in all! Knowing this has really helped me in getting a feel for using the Rituals through the past years.


jannie smit (ic spring and summer . BWHR december 2012 - 3 years ago Reply

Carolyn, thanks again for a great blog. Such a clear and easy to understand explanation of the Waterhole Rituals.

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