Finding “Neutral” – The key to the heart of the dance with horses

Horse and Human in “Neutral”

Finding “Neutral” puts the heart you’re looking for in the dance:

Finding neutral takes dedication and practice, but it’s ohhh so worth it! I learned a long time ago that I am about the school of practice – continuing to refine the connection I share with horses which has given me an ability to enjoy sharing with others what I know about the training of horses.

Today what I want to offer is the secret to why I think my horses work so well for me. Finding “neutral” is the first thing you need to have on your horse once you have the bond and respect. I find many horsemen are weekend horse trainers. But if you want a dependable horse, it takes a deep commitment which takes more time than the occasional weekend. It reminds me of a story about a concert pianist, Arthur Rubinstein, who found out this fact.

I do not know if it is true, but I heard a story about Arthur Rubinstein, one of the greatest concert pianists of his time. Arthur Rubinstein was revered and loved by audiences in Europe. Arthur then came to the United States on tour and was received much differently. Americans were not impressed. The reviews were harsh and stated that Arthur was a mediocre pianist. This was based on the fact that Arthur left out notes and only played a version of the original piece. This was crushing to Arthur; he had only been admired and doted upon in Europe and he loved the admiration. Both the U.S. and Europe were right in their viewpoints. Europe was swept away by the brilliance of Arthur’s feel, touch and heart for what he played, while America wanted to see that he had mastered the technique of the piece that he was playing.

Arthur was devastated because of his ego. Up until this point, I was told, Arthur enjoyed the social nightlife through smoking, drinking and carousing with women. He was not devoting his time to the mastery of the piano because his work at that time filled his heart and soul. Upon reading his reviews, the story went on to say that Arthur took it so hard that he tried to kill himself by hanging. As fate would have it, the rope he tried to hang himself with broke. This event changed his life; I was told that he took it as a sign that he needed to change his ways and to become a true student of the piano. So he gave up his debauchery and began to practice in earnest.

Photo by Teddie ZieglerTraining horses, to be fair to the horse and to the art of horsemanship, needs to be given the time necessary – like the attention that Arthur gave to his piano practice later on. Horse training requires a consistent routine that the horse can depend upon, at least three days a week. Just like this exercise that I am going to be sharing with you right now on finding “neutral.”

Finding “neutral” means a horse that is not nervous, feels connected with you in the moment and isn’t wanting to do something else or be somewhere else. This attitude can be trained into a horse. This is what finding neutral is all about. It is important to find neutral in your horse and in yourself. We need to get away from the agendas we have so we can form a teamwork connection with each other. Sometimes this is difficult to do.

Here is my formula for how to connect with a horse:

Step 1 – Neutral: Before you ask anything from a horse, the horse must be relaxed with no agenda.

Step 2 – Focus: Ask for his attention. The objective when you get your horse’s attention is that he stays relaxed.

Step 3 – Ask: Ask him to perform whatever you want.

Step 4 – Allow: Allow the horse to perform without your influence. The minute he starts following your lead, quiet your aids and let him perform.

This is working from the ground, and is very similar to riding. The secret is practicing neutral and taking the time to really establish this in you and your horse.

Here is a video that might help:



If you enjoyed this lesson and would like to learn even more, there are still a few spots available in my next Online Waterhole Rituals Course, which is starting this Sunday, March 24th and Monday, March 25th. If you want a personal program designed for you and your horse and want to work directly with me, the Insider Circle is the class you want to get into. If you want to observe and follow the program on the Insider Circle class in order to get a feel for the Waterhole Rituals, I suggest that the Extended Circle is the ideal way to learn. First-time students usually start with the Extended Circle Class and then move into the Insider Circle Class.


Click Here for More Information!



Have a great weekend and look out for new horse and human sightings. May the horse be with you!

Warmly, Carolyn



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joanna blake - 3 years ago Reply

many thanks Carolyn, i really enjoyed this video – i shall practice it for the next week in time for Sun’s second eveer trailer journey.

stina - 3 years ago Reply

Thank you for the blog and exercise. I love this very useful exercise.

It was so nice having an organic lunch with you last week and discussing the herd behavior happening right now with my small band.
I will put together a video of how the situation can change in a peaceful family herd once a new lead mare reaches a mature age and want to take over the herd. You comments to my video clips were very useful. What a “new” strong smart mare I have here. Inspired by your comments I started working with her today, she is absolutely the smartest, independent, willing, brave (and naughty ofcourse..) and hard working horse I think we have in the herd.

You ranch look better than ever, what great facilities you have and are constantly developing for students to come and study with you.

Soon I have new working student here and we will start with the next 20 waterhole rituals series and develop the school for the children.

Much sunshine from St. Vincent Stina

PS It was very nice meeting you Kedra!

    Carolyn Resnick
    Carolyn Resnick - 3 years ago Reply

    Dear Stina,
    It is wonderful to see you and wish you had more time. Maybe you could arrange more time the next time you come for a visit. We need more Sharing Territory don’t you think? Spring here at the ranch is always a feast of flowers. Being from the desert I am always over whelmed by its beauty. I am sure it can not compare to your tropical paradise. You films of your island balanced my soul and heals my heat.
    Much love from Escondido,

      stina - 3 years ago Reply

      Dear Carolyn,

      Next time I will have more time. I will be looking forward to share and discuss our Waterhole Rituals under saddle videos with you as well. I am so exited to continue our riding journey together. More films are coming!
      SunShine from St. Vincent – Stina

Lisa Hill - 3 years ago Reply

Dear Carolyn, great video demonstration. I pray you and your Mom are doing well. Blessings~Lisa

Aline Mellema/ IC/ Angel and Vicky/ Netherlands/ ECspring2011/ ICfall2011/ BTWRCmarch2012 - 3 years ago Reply

Wow… another great exercise to work on! thank you so much for sharing this Carolyn! I think this would be great for Angel and me, so I can’t wait to start practising!
Thanks so much for this free lesson and for the video!

I also wanted to share that I was finally able to listen to the January Marchador and Honey calls and I was thrilled! fantastic!! Hope many more will follow and I’ve already signed up for the Marchador call in April. Hope to speak to you soon.

Much love and hugs!

    Carolyn Resnick
    Carolyn Resnick - 3 years ago Reply

    Dear Aline,

    Thanks for the commercial. 🙂 I love your work with horses. It’s always nice to hear from you.

    Much love and hugs back at you, Carolyn

Tamara Blits - 3 years ago Reply

You teach so much, about what a horse needs . I loved your video. My horse is very wild, but he always gives me the best. Today I put a little step in the round pen; to see if he would let me lay on him, or get close to him. I don’t ride him much , because I don’t have a lot of energy. I was surprised at what he did. I had to follow and move him around, and around, until he finally let me on, I just kept asking, and he finally said okay. Then I just laid on him to rest. He was a good boy.

Tamara Blits - 3 years ago Reply

I have a very smart horse, and if you can find neutral, he understands. My Dakota, likes to be showed what to do, not told what to do. When I keep trying to show him; without a push or pull, he comes to the answer. You can’t push ; just ask. It’s amazing what they understand. Thank you Carolyn. I hope you are doing well with your Mama. God bless your heart.

linda salinas - 3 years ago Reply

Hi Carolyn,

Just signed up for the Insider Circle. Several of my students from last week’s clinic will be signing up as well. I must say, I loved the blog and also really like be connected to you as often as possible.

I loved the video and the lessons that go with it. Kedra did a nice job. Thank you both for this wonderful lesson.

Talk to you soon Carolyn,


MaryGayeLeBoeuf - 3 years ago Reply

This video is wonderful! This is such an important lesson! I’ve been working on Cowboy with “stay” but I knew that something was missing. I’ve noticed that when I leave him standing in different (not straight and square) positions, he seems to move his body, head or feet around, “just to get comfortable” even while technically “staying” in the same place. This video demonstrates the importance of his slight changes in body position, foot placement and even head position. It shows me the importance of setting Cowboy up properly in the first place so that he does not have an excuse to make these movements to “get comfortable.” As you have been teaching me Carolyn, with all horses, and especially an extreme horse like Cowboy, each decision I let Cowboy make, that was not my idea, is, in his mind, a point in favor of his leadership and a point taken from mine. I am determined that all the points are going to be mine and your blogs and videos like this show me how to win those points! Beware the square Cowboy; it’s coming your way. =)

Laurinda Reinhart - 3 years ago Reply

Thanks for this Carolyn. The video made things so simple and easy to understand. Makes me think ‘hey, I CAN do this’. lol Will start practicing in the barn aisle, one wiggly horse at a time. Zeus needs to learn how to lead, so this exercise seems to be the perfect lead in. he has just started joining up with me in the pasture and learning how to walk respectfully next to me. What was the name of your blog about teaching a youngster to lead?

Hope you and Paula are doing well!

Anne-Marie - 3 years ago Reply

Thank you,Carolyn.I will practice this, being more specific.


Teri Peery - 3 years ago Reply

Thanks Carolyn,
The snow has finally melted and I’ve been sitting with my horses. I think I will really enjoy trying this with my Tango. Thanks for the video.
Teri in Utah

CarolynBourchier - 3 years ago Reply

Thanks for the video Carolyn. It is nice to see you looking well, I hope Paulina is happy. My horses and I are still floundering around in mud!! It certainly makes life challenging. The good news is I still love nearly every minute of it 🙂 So there is no bad news.
I look forward to Franklin visiting in May, then Farah in June.
Much love
Carolyn B xx

StephanieMorse - 3 years ago Reply

Hi Carolyn

I hope your mother is doing well.

Thanks for this wonderful post, I especially enjoyed the video.

I’m going to get some marking chalk so I can make a box on the grass. This will be a fun exercise.

I do like to tell the horses what we’re doing and I expect when I leave Cracker in the box, I’ll tell him “Now please stay in the box, Cracker”.

If he starts to leave, I expect when I put him back, I’ll end up saying “Cracker, I need you to stay in the box”.

Do you think my speaking will confuse him, should I just be quiet and put him where I want him to be, or what?


    Carolyn Resnick
    Carolyn Resnick - 3 years ago Reply

    Dear Stephanie,
    In the beginning I am quiet and then I use my voice using short two word sentences. I suggest experimenting by trying both and see what your results are.

    Thanks for sharing,

Marja van Run - 3 years ago Reply

Dear Carolyn,

This is another good example of both the simplicity and specificity (is that even a word ;-)?) of the exercises in your method. Both these qualities have been two of the most important things I learned from you in the past years. It’s not about doing difficult, complicated things; it’s about keeping things very simple and clear and just keeping to it in a peaceful, confident and consistent way.
Just the other day I thought how amazing it is that Frosti and I can now Companion Walk at liberty, with stops, turns and different speeds of walk and trot, while the only simple principle I have been building upon is: filling up his hayfeeder, not allowing him to start eating right away, but instead asking him to come to me and as soon as he did, taking him back to the hayfeeder to let him eat. I asked for this only once each day, which never took more than a few minutes, and I simply increased the distance of our walk very gradually over time, adding stops and speed variations as soon as I felt he was willing. I never even used a reed or anything. Simple and specific, that’s all :-), as you show in this ‘stay in the box’ exercise.
It is truly your gift Carolyn, to break up every piece of training into small, simple and clear steps, with a lot of understanding for the horse’s (and human’s!) nature.
I believe this is a thing the present world is craving for in general: going back to simplicity.

Loving hug from (a still much too cold) Holland,

Rosemary - 3 years ago Reply

Thank you Carolyn for this very clear and simple video! I have done this with Pazo in the aisle when I groom him, but I don’t put him EXACTLY in the same spot. I see now that I must really be specific. I think I will use tape on the mats in the barn aisle to guide me.

    Carolyn Resnick
    Carolyn Resnick - 3 years ago Reply

    Dear Rosemary,
    Thank you for your interest. I would love to hear from you in what happens when you do this. It is a great test to find out how willing and relaxed and focused your horse his. This exercise will help you to train your horse even further. Asking a horse to be in a certain place makes sense to horses. With out being land specific we confuse the horse.


Monique Ros, from the Netherlands-certified trainer. - 3 years ago Reply

Thanks Carolyn

Lots of love Monique

Andrea Schwiegel - 3 years ago Reply

Thank you, Carolyn, for this exercise. It reminds me to take some step back and return to the basis.
Lots of greetings from Italy,

BonnieJBeresford - 3 years ago Reply

It is the simple things, like this exercise, that are the foundation for everything else, as you said, Carolyn, and they do not happen in one day. In fact I am always training my horse, in the sense that even when I am just leading her somewhere, I want her to walk at a certain position to my body and at my speed. Standing quietly, leading, allowing me to pick up a foot, grooming her, going through gates, waiting while I fetch something….these are the things it is most important to get right because they are what you do most often. So the time spent training her to do these things the way I want makes life so much easier, and sets the tone for everything that is to come. Thank you for this exercise and the reminder that it is as important as the more advanced exercises.

Natalie - 3 years ago Reply

Very nice video, Carolyn! Another great pearl, as usual. 🙂

Mary Augustine - 3 years ago Reply

Great exercise Carolyn. I do this with my Nokota Horse when I take him in the barn to put a saddle on him. I don’t like to cross-tie (don’t have them in my barn) so I just walk my horse up in front of the tack room and drop the lead rope or put it around his neck. If he moves I put him back where he started. This has worked wonders in so many aspects of our time together. He stands still for so many things now. Fly spray for one and of course grooming with no halter. When I go to mount he comes to the mounting block with nothing on but the saddle. I put his halter or bridle on from the mounting block. This was a totally untouched, wild horse when I got him. After two years of applying your method to the time I spend with him we are finally getting ready to ride together. He trusts me so much and I am learning that I can do the same. Your method is precious to me. Thank you!

Mary Augustine
Cypress, Texas

Francis - 3 years ago Reply

Thank you for this clear video Carolyn, I think this will be a perfect one for my Raya, who is in some kind of ‘phase’ of walking away from me even before I try to ask something from her (even a simple hello she refuses somethimes lately, but also after I said hello, it seems she found out she’s allowed to say NO and is doing just that all the time, like a todler who learned the word NO 😉 ) I do think it’s a good thing she found out she’s allowed to say no, ’cause it’s probably the first time in her life that she has a say in what’s happening to her (although a few days back her rejection felt so strong that I actually felt saddened by it) but I would like to teach her to at least wait and see what I want from her before she starts walking away. Or she walks away right in the middle of a grooming session or when I’m ajusting her blanket or something else that just ‘needs’ to be done (I prefer do these things right there in the paddock without tying her) It’s like she’s impatient or just forgot I’m doing something and easely destracted and I think this exercise will help teach her to just wait and see what I want, or wait ’till I’m done with whatever needed to be done at that point.

RandeeFox - 3 years ago Reply

Thanks so much Carolyn and Kedra. Excellent exercise and great story about Arthur Rubenstein about ‘doing the work’ to become a true master.

Geerteke Kroes IC 2011 BWHRC 2011 - 3 years ago Reply

Interesting !!

Thank you for sharing, Carolyn


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