Carolyn Resnick Horsemanship: Liberty Horse Training

The Foundation for All Equestrian Pursuits Through the Horse-Human Connection.

After watching one of the horses on my ranch spend time with a Raven that was in his paddock, I noticed a connection developing between the two animals. The raven was preoccupied with looking for something in the stallion’s pen, and the stallion became curious about what the Raven was doing. Watching this in nature, as well as when I have Shared Territory™ with my own horses or watched my students Share Territory™ with their horses, I have found that this curiosity and “good vibrations” developing between the two species are an important part of developing a deep bond.

All animals are curious about anything that preoccupies another being. It will draw your horse to you so the horse is the one that starts the relationship. This is important when Sharing Territory™ with your horse. If fishermen enjoy waiting until they catch a fish, you can enjoy the time that you share in the company of your horse. You are just fishing for a connection with your horse instead! I remember as a child that I would sit with fisherman to experience what they were experiencing, and enjoyed the process and being with them.

There are some things that can stop good vibrations from forming. One is not knowing how to build a connection. I believe knowing how to connect with a horse is the most important skill to have in being around horses. Most professional horseman these days skip over taking the time to connect with a horse by Sharing Territory™, so they lack the know how. Most children know how to be with horses, so it is an easy thing to gain back because it is a natural ability we are born with. All we need to do is remember.

So how did we loose the ability to form a connection with a horse? Thursday I will answer this question. In the meantime, I would like to hear from you in how you may have lost your instinct you had as a child or why you did not loose your instincts for connection.

Announcements:
We have received Journals from Holly Vanasse, Laura Nelson, Joanna Blake, and Connie Huibregtse. Final last call for Journal contest entries to win a free spot in the 10 day Beyond the Waterhole Rituals clinic for the Insider Circle and the In the Box program!

I am very please to announce Robin Gates is having another Clinic in the wine country on November 6th and 7th. Don’t miss out on the fun! Robin’s clinic is an opportunity in learning how to be creative with the Waterhole Rituals™ to achieve a magical relationship with your horse. Robin is strong, kind, funny, and gracious. She is extremely knowledgeable with a desire to empower your ability with your horse using the Waterhole Rituals™.

gateshorsetraining

Click to link to PDF

Remember to watch for more new horse and human sightings- we would love to hear about them! Have a great week! I am going pumpkin patch shopping and eating sandwiches in the country!

Carolyn

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41 Responses to “More Good Vibrations, Exercises in Meditation”

  1. 35
    Kerrie Stepnick says:

    So I have to tell you about a new horse sighting in Mexico… that left a couple of Mexican gentlemen who share our pasture with mouths agape yesterday as they rode through…

    They saw Capricho and I skipping through the field, Capricho with no tack, in kind of a loose, changing companion walk. They saw me step up onto a rock, then Capricho came up beside the rock, arched his body close around the rock until I could easily get on him, and proceed to amble around the pasture with me mounted on him, stopping every time I asked so that he could pick up the carrot that would inevitably tumble to the ground.

    Perhaps they could not have been more surprised if the horse had sprouted wings and flown away!

  2. 34
    Brenda Adams says:

    Dear Carolyn,

    I just have a question that is probably a step ahead of Sharing Territory, which I enjoy doing immensely. It is just getting to be the time of year here, that my horse is a little more frisky so here goes:

    My horse behaves similarly to what Susan Borskin is descirbing above, & exhibits more of this behavior in cooler weather, when worst of the bugs are gone, & the air is more clear & crisp. ( I live in the southeast, Southeast TN to be exact, where summers are very hot & muggy). My horse is the same age as Susan’s horse, & I can’t help but believe they are just feeling good & want to play.

    My question is – how to channel this safely, so if he is playing, I am not reprimanding him, & yet let him know it is not acceptable for him to play with me like he would another horse?

    He is very sensitive & smart – learns quickly & I would like to help him keep those qualities in tact, as well as our connection. I am thinking it might be good to spend extra time in the pasture sharing territory each time the seasons change, so that as they change, I can observe more thoroughly how it affects his behavior. I adore him & want to maintain a high level of respect & trust between us always!

    My time with him & my other horse is the one thing that saves my day, no matter how stressful it was before I arrive at the pasture.
    Sharing Territory helps me to let go of all but the present & I believe it is very healing, as well as a great help in learning how they communicate with each other, so that I can use it to communicate with them.

    Thank-you in advance, for any enlightenment you have on this.

    Blessings to you for all you do!

    Brenda

  3. 33
    Regina Walter (Insider Circle) says:

    Hello Carolyn,
    Just checking in and reading. So busy at work this time of year.
    Blessings,
    Regina

  4. 32

    I had a “new human” sighting some time back. The huge pasture Maia is kept in is adjacent to another huge pasture owned by a different boarding barn. One day a woman walked out in there to catch her horse, but when she called he didn’t come up to her. So instead of going up to him, she went nearby, sat down, and proceeded to lay on her back in the grass and just gaze at the sky!

    Within minutes her horse and his buddies had flocked around her and she calmly got up, caught her horse, drove the pesky other horses away, and went on with her day.

    It was so encouraging to me!

    Hannah

  5. 31
    Monique Ros says:

    I lost my instinct when I was a kid because I got two signals. If I felt my father was sad and asked him “Dad are you sad then he said” no I’m busy. This happened frequently that I emotion, instinctively felt something but get a different response from the people around me.

    I was going to rely on what people told me, and not trust my instinct – feeling I had.

    Then I became older, I began to see that people unconsciously unwilling or afraid to let you know how she felt, which is also scary and vulnerable.

    I think the animals, they see you and know how you feel. If I mornings come down from the stairs, I always say to my animals with a bigg smile, Good morningss without worrie-ingss, while I just do not feel happy. My dog King says “he you, do normal and do not be fooled me. He hugs me more, and I’m totally happy again. He is really conect with me,

    The horses are also pure with us, and always curious to our kapriol to do differentley than who we really are.

    I wait around until I got conect with the horse, and feel that we become one in an energy. This is for me such a tremendous experience for me, I am there. I come back to my instincts and am conect with the animal, which is what I received from Carolyn

    I hope that one day the people in this way can make a conectie, and dare to see each other as we really are, without comment and feel the Joy

    I may be wrong, but it feels very good

    Thanks Carolyn

    Lots of love

    Monique

  6. 30
    Abigail Morris says:

    Dear Carolyn,

    Brilliant! Just as you predicted – we did a good brisk trot, wherever Galero wanted to go, then I asked just for a little more and we floated into the canter; three times on the left rein, three times on the right (his ‘bad’ side) and I stopped, gave him lots of praise and hugs and ended the session. This probably took all of 20 minutes. I realized that all I have been doing is getting in his way, trying to set him up in the ‘correct’ way. Bravo!

    Perhaps a horse sighting – when I began WHR with Galero (who was a rescue) I was very restrained with him, not wanting to upset him. He wasn’t responding and I tried getting ‘big’ with go-trot and he loved it, I think he just wanted to express himself. I told my horse podiatrist about this (my horses are barefoot and bitless) and she said yes, he is finally being allowed to develop his ego. This makes sense to me.

    I would like to do a telephone coaching session and will contact you about setting it up (given the 9 hour time difference).

    Thank you again.

  7. 29
    Debbie Antolak says:

    Hi Carolyn, I have taken quite a break from your blog over the spring and summer. I so wanted to do your last insiders circle group but missed out as I was traveling at the time of sign up. I hate to admit it but this started my downward spiral this year. Both my horses have had lameness issues, I spent some time away on trips, two of my kids are off to college and just a general feeling of “blah” has come over me. I have realized I need to make a little bit of effort to get out of this “slump”, so I am back, reading your blog again and have lots to catch up on.

    As to this weeks blog…..great….I feel (at least for me) I equate connection to imagination and imagination is something that has dwindled over the years. I remember as a child I so desperately wanted a horse but we were not in a situation where that was possible, so my imagination took over. I had a red tricycle I named “King” and had a rope tied to the handle bars and I played with my “16hh thoroughbred horse” for endless hours, often just sitting beside it…I had a real connection to my “horse”. I remember in my twenties I would think back to that and think I was just a silly little girl, but now (50) I realize that it was magical and I want that feeling again with my real horses.

    Thanks for listening, I have lots of reading to catch up on:)

  8. 28
    Brenda Adams says:

    I just want to say I am enjoying everyone’s comments on this article greatly – especially Holly’s & Andrea’s, as I can so relate!

    The outside influences that take away from our instincts can be so hard to over ride & so damaging to our psyches, as Holly pointed out. A book I think that all of you would enjoy in regard to this subject, is written by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, & is titled “Women Who Run With the Wolves”. This book has become my “Bible” so to speak, & has been a huge help recently in standing up for both my horse & myself in reference to a local “trainer” who recently crossed boundaries that she shouldn’t have.

    Andrea also makes a huge point, in that modern “technology” has deadened the instincts & creativity of most children.

    I so enjoyed your book “Naked Liberty”, Carolyn, as it helped remind me of the instinctive & creative parts of my childhood that had been dulled, both by society, & my own self-inflicted “anesthesia” over a period of time past. It helped me once again, to be in touch with who I am, versus who others want me to be.
    Your childhood is to be envied by all who seek authenticity! Thank-you for all you are doing to make the world a better place for horses & for sharing information with us.

    Brenda

  9. 27
    Holly Vanasse Insiders Circle says:

    Dear Carolyn,
    As a child I was more connected to animals than to people. Animals were my friends, confidantes, and solace and they understood me while the people around me did not. I always loved horses and wanted to have one live in our backyard and garage. (it was a big, barn-like garage but we lived in town) Of course this didn’t happen.

    As an adult when I set up my life to revolve around horses, I thought I was on the path to creating a connection. But inadvertently I ended up on the path of creating a false-connection. Since I found your materials last year, I have now found the path of creating and maintaining a true connection with my horse.

    So, I feel that I kept my instinct for connection with animals in general through adulthood. But my ability to listen to my own instincts was effectively shut down by outside influences such as parents, church, and teachers. So this affected my ability to connect with horses because I chose to follow the wrong information and didn’t listen to what my instincts were telling me for a long time.

    Practicing the Waterhole Rituals is re-connecting me with myself, my instincts and allowing me to connect with horses in the way I always dreamed of.

    Thanks again,
    Holly

  10. 26
    Natalie van Andel says:

    hello everybody!
    Personally i did not loose the instinct for connection with horses, while growing up. on the contrary, i now, am more aware of how and why it happens, then when i was a child.
    I always had two great passions in my life: animals, especially horses and cats, and meditation and spiritual research.
    for me these two things are very interconnected and as already many other members of the blog said, the connection is there when you’re in a meditative state. This is also my experience.
    Though i’m not so sure that kids have this instict inborn, or maybe not kids after a certain age. I teach horseriding to children (ages 4 to 10) but i don’t see this inborn instinct… (certainly not “most kids” it is rather a very rare gift, that only very few kids seem to have, at least at the barn where i go) maybe they have it just till a certain age..? I do see that some horses have a special respect for kids and allow them to do things to them that they wouldn’t accept from grown-ups, while other horses on the contrary seem to be allergic to kids in general, pin their ears as one gets close and send them away violently… so far my experience regarding this theme…
    love, Natalie van andel from italy

  11. 25
    Andrea Schwiegel says:

    I think, Connie said it all. People loose the natural ability to connect (or maybe better to say, they forget about it, because I think we all have it deep down somewhere), when they loose the connection with themselves, often to match the expectations of others or chasing after models our society imposes us.
    I feel lucky that I nearly never lost the connection to nature, and that I’ve been around children and young people most of my life. I have three children and they helped me to keep my eyes open for the “unvisible” things around us and challenged me to be creative, invent games wherever we were. Now that they are grown-ups, my horse, my dogs, cats, hens, pigeons and the other animals I meet help me returning Child myself, and realize how awful adults can be :)) – it’s painful to see all these “technologized” children today with, handys, computers, nintendos etc. from very young age on, loosing their vision for all the little natural wonders around us. So sad.
    Love from Italy
    Andrea

    • 25.1

      Dear Andrea,
      Next time please address your letters to me rather than an open letter. It is the format of my blog.
      On the subject on the modern child.
      We can monitor how our children spend their time. We can also widen their experiences and teach them how to enjoy fitting in with others and serving community. Children are very easily influenced. All children are born with individual interests like your interest for horses. We can help them to develop their personal interest so a child can truly realize their natural talent and passion. Their own interests can lead them away from repeated use of “tech” games.
      Just think how different a child turns out by the influences in their life through parenting.
      When T.V. first came out I wanted to watch it all the time. My parents had their own simple solution to this over interest in T. V.. I was allowed to watch for a couple of hours on the weekend before my chores. My chores could be extensive after watching.
      I learned through deduction that if I skipped T. V. and got lost in my interests, the chores were much less and sometimes not at all.

      When we are with our horses, we need to teach our horses how to fit in with us, and we also need to teach ourselves how to fit in with them as leaders. We are wanting to build coping skills into our horses and care taking skills into our leadership choices.
      It isn’t just about the bond, it is also about developing a horse’s ability to dance and develop this personal interest in the dance.
      We are shaping the horses character to fit in harmony with us. By shaping character, we develop better coping skills in the horse.

  12. 24
    Susan garvin says:

    A wonderful stream of responses to your ‘task’ for this blog, Carolyn!
    I too was a typical pony-mad little girl, always pretending to be a horse, or on a horse. My friend and I would build little show jumping courses in the garden and canter round them. Nearly always this would morph into a complex drama of having to rescue badly treated horses and restore them to health and well being…..well here I am around 60 years on, looking after the abandoned horses at the barn, the ones whose owners dumped them when they weren’t useful any more, and I get to love them and help them have a more comfortable life…my childhood dreams, fed of course by numerous re-readings of Black Beauty and all those pony books where little girls from poor families got given dangerous impossible ponies and through kindness and understanding – that’s connection too, isn’t it? – brought them back to have a wonderful relationship and partnership which stunned the community in general.
    My connection has another dimension too – quite frequently, I’ll turn my head to look at a horse and will suddenly see that creature, horse, for the very first time, and give a mental gasp of wonder at the beauty of that body and the harmony of that being…it’s like a symphony that floods my heart and renews my connection with all horses at some level.
    happy horse days to all,
    Susan
    (IC, ITaly)

  13. 23
    Connie Huibregtse says:

    (Spring 2010 insiders circle)

    Hi Carolyn,

    I think I lost my instinct as a child because I got lost in the game of trying to meet others expectations, my teachers, parents, friends, siblings, etc…In doing so, the noise of who I should be, what I should love, and how I should behave became so loud that my inner compass became confused. Perhaps I felt bound without a space to go at liberty, and it enhances my understanding of why it is important for my horse to be able to walk away, and why that enhances our relationship and connection. I also understand the importance of stepping away from the busyness of life to hear and feed my inner voice and instinct.

    I have thought about this very much over the past several years, but even more since I began your class. I found it hard to navigate the ‘human’ world and ideas of success. I always felt a connection with the animals around me, but found it harder to connect with the humans.

    Sharing Territory with my horse has really helped revitalize my instinct. I am so much more grounded now and in awe of Yowahtee’s ability to remain in the moment. In stepping away from my busy human life, I have found treasures far beyond my imagination. The connection I am developing with my horse is amazing and it is spreading into others aspects and relationships in my life.

    I now have a new dog. He is seven, but I am sharing territory with him and realizing a wonderful bond. He stays with me by his choice as if we have been together for years and years.

    I recently had to move my horse to a different barn because my previous barn was closing and I realized how strongly I had connected with the cats and other horses at the barn, just because I was there with my horse. When I was with him, the cats were often with me, and the other horses would be paying attention to us, and I would always offer them a kind word or pat, acknowledging their special selves, and I miss seeing those animal friends, because we had developed a bond, and I feel as if I have abandoned them in some way by leaving, especially one of the cats that was usually with Yowahtee and I when we were sharing territory, walking, etc…we were often a threesome, because this cat chose to be with us.

    The last couple days, I have sat on a towel in the pasture with Yowahtee, drawing and writing. I was doodling and drawing trees or perhaps the landscape with him in it, but not focusing directly on him. Occasionally, I would look up to find him edging closer to me, and then sometimes he was right next to me, snuffling my journal, watching me as he grazed with his head just a couple feet away. It is so rich and there are moments when our bond is so strong that I feel incredibly whole and peaceful. Even arriving at the barn after not being there for a day, he will see me and wander over to the fence waiting for me to park, giving me the most soft and wonderful ‘you are here’ look, and my heart soars. I am so lucky to have him in my life and be able to share the WHR’s with him.

    Thank you for teaching me in your class about being in the moment with well being, how to cultivate joy, and the importance of this to my horse. This was a huge gift and one of the keys I needed to delve deeper into my own instinct. It is changing me and I am so amazed at the times when it seems my horse and I are communicating with something that feels like the soft, lightness of a feather. Heartmagic:)

    Thank you for this wonderful post. I look forward to Thursdays! Have fun in the pumpkin patch.

  14. 22
    Susan Borkin says:

    (last in a box program) I have always enjoyed spending time watching horses and how they interact with each other & other critters, but your program has given me new tools and encouragement to also enter into the games.

    I do have one question for you though on a behavior that is perhaps child-like horse-play. When a horse kicks up its heels directed at you (or another horse) is it inviting play (like “you are it”), being sassy (“can’t touch me”) or a dominance move? My instincts tell me to respond as if it is a dominance move, but I’m not quite sure what the response should be since the kick out is usually done at a spirited moment when my horse is cantering by and only occasionally – generally when I am being passive rather than leading the dance. But I’ve also seen him do this to other horses in the pasture when both are cantering off. He is a 4yr old Holsteiner and is usually very respectful (not aggressive with people or other horses) but he is friendly and likes to interact. I am more curious than worried about the behavior since I know he isn’t trying to actually kick me or the other horses.

  15. 21
    Marja van Run says:

    (In a Box 2010)

    Thank you Carolyn, just checking in.

  16. 20
    Brenda Adams says:

    This is a wonderful article & I do love Sharing Territory with my horses. My older horse, Star, is already trained & very calm.

    My younger horse, Chaska, was born in my back yard, & is like my baby. He is 4 now, & we have done some ground work with him (leading – forward, backing up, lateral flexion, etc.). He seems to like Sharing Territory, as it is not threatening to him. We did not get off to a great start where trust was concerned when he was a foal. I did not listen to my heart, as I wish I had, & did not have any real knowledge of what to do. Now that I do not have interference, I am doing what I felt I should all along. Chaska does seem to have some respect issues, & I am not sure when I should move on & how. He is 4 years old, about 15 hands, but still has a lot of baby curiosity, & is very sensitive. I am just trying to move on slowly.

    I am not sure yet, whether he is shy or dominant, as he seems to shift back & forth & does not seem to have totally formed his personality yet. He is very curious & likes to be involved in whatever anyone else is doing. I want to use his curiosity to his advantage & encourage respect at the same time.

    I am thinking of doing the leading from behind, & depending on how that goes, trying the Taking Territory for his respect issues. I am just concerned about moving too fast & breaking the bond. I was actually Sharing Territory before I learned about your work – I just didn’t realize what I was doing, but it seemed to improve our relationship. He still tries to act like I am his “play mate” sometimes & I have to ask him to “Whoa” using a training stick as an extension of my arm.

    Any feed back would be greatly appreciated.

    Sincerely,
    Brenda

  17. 19
    Abigail Morris says:

    Dear Carolyn,
    Your blog and Michelle Twohig’s response touch on something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently: why it is so difficult to maintain a connection when riding, and not just riding but ‘working’. I hack out alone a lot, and generally have a good connection with my horse. But when I ‘work’ i.e. in an arena (although in my case it is a fenced off part of the greater horse field) I lose the connection. For example, one of my horses is very left footed, the other very right footed; neither have good canter departs on the ‘weak’ foot. So, I work on suppling and strengthening the ‘weak’ side, trying to improve the canter depart. This does not appear to be much fun for them, rather like telling a student: ‘you will now spend the next hour writing an essay with your other hand’. Cue cries of horror and anguish and general disgust with the teacher. They are nice horses, and we work well together and very rarely fight, but the connected feeling is lost. I have an agenda, my horses don’t, I understand that and try to rebuild the connection with them with WHR sessions which we all enjoy. I wonder what your thoughts are on this problem: you work with dressage riders and horses, and dressage is all about disciplined, ambidextrous horses.
    I haven’t been doing WHR very long, and perhaps I am being too hasty in looking for the same connection in ridden work as in the freedom of a WHR session.

    Many thanks, the blogs are always interesting and thought provoking.

    • 19.1

      Exactly my question, Carolyn. Thank you Abigail, for adding to it. The wonderful connection we have on the ground where he’s engaged, curious and will easily and quickly turn his haunches in circles, back-up or step across both ways seems to disappear when riding. (Also, as an aside, I’m not too heavy to ride him, the saddle was a bareback pad and the bridle was bitless.)

    • 19.2

      Dear Abigail,
      This is very easy to help you with. Make sure you have a strong gas pedal on your horse from the ground at liberty and and great pause when you request it and a horse that loves the space he is in, then pick something you know he would do under saddle and ride for a short time, ask for him to travel with some speed on a loose rein to keep him forward, it will help with his shoulder. Let him pick where he goes and guide him when you can. Except what he give you but keep the pace. Do not work on the weak side. I do coaching calls. I thing I could really help you to get your horse to love arena work.
      What is going wrong for you is that you are working on the wrong subject.
      At liberty you handle him differently. You have got to use the same approach on him as you do form the ground.

      Have fun keep it short.

      Hope this helps.

  18. 18
    Megan says:

    One of the livery owners at my yard brings her 2 year old grandchild to see the horses when she is looking after her. The child can be a little nervous round some of the horses (including mine who has “issues”!) but some she has no problem with and will approach readily – interestingly these are the “easy” horses who get along with each other and with humans. I remarked to the grandmother that the child must be able to “read” their energy in a way that we adults have forgotten.

  19. 17
    Debi Olson says:

    As a child I would talk with any animal I came in contact with. And I didn’t know anything different. As I got older I was told I could not talk to them. Being the type of child I was I believed them. As I got to be an adult I started to reteach myself to be with the animal and listen, then I can “talk” back. But it has taken a few year to be able to say I can talk to the animals. The best way is to just spend time with the animal.
    Blessings Debi

    • 17.1
      Angela Frey says:

      Know how you feel Debi, think it has been many a sensitive souls path to have the ability taken away by careless words. Lucky we have the power to retrieve all of ourselves and there are no better teachers than horses…what a priviledge to be alive and aware!
      X Angela

  20. 16
    Christine Hudson says:

    I was a horse crazy child, but never had my own horse then. Often, I went to visit 2 heavy horses in a field near my home very early in the morning. There I would lie in the grass and dream, watch the grass hoppers and insects and be completely content to just be immersed in nature and in the presence of the horses. I felt complete then and I wanted nothing. I havn’t quite lost this feeling, but it is harder now to be free of thoughts of the past or future and to be so accepting of the present moment. Thankyou to the horses, who show me when I get it right -and also, when I get it wrong.

  21. 15
    Kerrie Stepnick says:

    Hi, Carolyn and all, I love what you write about it being a question of remembering rather than having to learn it cold. A dear friend was just telling me that yesterday. We were talking about energy fields as taught in martial arts, something I have always had a sense of since childhood with horses. And that’s just how she put it. She doesn’t “train” dogs. She just gets along with them – terriers, even.

    I hope you don’t mind a “new cow” sighting as well as new horse… I’m discovering just how much other species love music, particularly a song. I have been singing to the horses and they just become so relaxed, yawning, ears forward, soft nickers. The milk cattle, a half dozen of them, are now in with the horses. As I was singing to the horses, the cattle all dropped down for a rest, every head facing towards me. I recall that the cowboy songs were originally about calming down the herd. Works on horses too.

  22. 14
    Kerry Wright says:

    Wow! This blog and the idea of an instinct for connection has returned to me so many wonderful memories! I’ve been wistfully running through them in my mind all morning… It’s been delightful so thank you Carolyn!

    Kerry

  23. 13
    Natalie says:

    What concerns me I have lost the time to conect with horses. With the full packed agenda the horses not living in the same place as I do I tend to have a constant agenda in my head about what to do ,where to go, when to be back etc. In childhood there is no such thing as agenda only dreams and fantasy. I do still have them in me and when I notice my agenda is taking over again I try to step back and take time to “share territory” or enjoy the moment of the sun shining on my checks whilst being with my horses. I should do it more often!
    For the past month I have been doing a lot of handling alone with my mare and going out for rides alone (and not with other riders). I now notice the connexion that has grown due to that “twosomeness”, absolutely lovely! Riding or being around horses without agenda is like an escape in an other world!

    Thanks
    Natalie

  24. 12
    stina says:

    checking in, good task, will be back on thursday.

  25. 11
    Máire Kennedy says:

    Dear Carolyn,

    What a good question. My youngest daughter is almost five and loves to help me with the ponies. Every day I see in her a connection to herself, being at home in her body, in her movement, in the moment and with the ponies. I remember when she was only two we were minding a young pony for a friend. This pony used to follow my two year old daughter as she stomped around the paddock. If she stopped he would stop, if she moved, he would move. She loved this game!

    This teaches me. I have a connection with my two ponies when I am connected to myself in a visceral way – to my body, my movement, my instincts, moment by moment. Then everything flows. I lose this connection when I am tired or stressed, or, more often, when I try to hard. For me it is about play, not minding if I let go of some agenda, and as you reminded me last week, about having fun.

    Thank you again,

    Máire

  26. 10
    Sue McKibbin (In A Box) says:

    Hi Carolyn
    I just wanted to share a sad but in some ways wonderful way of using the Waterhole Rituals that I experienced today. It was time for an elderly retired “Therapy Horse” to cross the rainbow bridge. His carer was quite distraught and asked for my help. I had not seen Chester for two years, and he looked wonderful, very grizzled around the muzzle now, but well-covered for a horse in his 30′s.
    Because of his carer’s distress and the change in his routine, he had been charging up and down the fence line all morning, she couldn’t catch him. When I arrived after lunch I told her she could go and I would oversee things for her. The removal truck was there too but not in a hurry, so I entered the paddock and started to approach Chester.
    I just waited a distance away until he relaxed a little and then I started playing “Hello” with him. There was a strong feeling of “I’m not ready yet!”, so I told him, there was no hurry, we could wait. He looked a little startled and licked and chewed. He was intrigued with the way I backed away when he turned his head away. He ran along the fence a few times and I just slowly followed and then said “hello” a couple of times more. Finally he followed me and allowed the halter to be put on. He calmly walked towards the gate, and I was giving him Reiki as we walked.
    The man watching remarked “That was incredible!”

    This part of our lives with animals is really hard, but it helped me enormously to be able to help him go with compassion and empathy, and when he was ready. I hope he’s found those greener pastures (and some teeth to eat it with) on the other side.
    Hope this isn’t too sad to add as a post, but it was from learning the WR’s this winter with you that I was able to be there for him.
    Thank you Sue

  27. 9

    Connections…how they’re made and lost with horse or human…what a topic!

    Today I got to explore expectations, pressures and when and how to insist on things while maintaining a connection.

    My very sensitive yet dominant, more fight than flight, stubborn horse had a serious case of the “I don’t wanna’s!” today during our ride. And to prove it, he consistently shouldered out of every turn to drift into the closest corner so he could stick his nose in it and stand there. This response has been building for him over the last few rides. Had my riding instructor been there, she would’ve been yelling, “Get after him, NOW!” at the first sign of that shoulder sticking out, but she wasn’t and I didn’t. Although her method works for the day, it only seems to teach him to bring it on stronger on the next ride. I don’t want that game. I don’t want that fight. So I wanted to explore what it might take to move past it.

    Instead of using crop and spur like she would, I stopped, exhaled and waited for him to exhale. Then I broke my requests to get us moving again into little pieces, staying soft but insistent. He said no several times, but eventually he complied, and we stayed out of fight energy. I thought I was getting somewhere. But once we got up into the trot again, out came the shoulder and into the closest corner we went. Again. Then again. My soft but insistent, maintain-the-connection attempts weren’t working.

    So between this experience today and reading this blog post, I’m wondering how tantrums, expectations, discipline and doing what’s best for the horse and the relationship all relate. I can’t believe it’s all about the human getting so good at feel and timing that she eventually learns to crush all rebellion with well-timed spurs and crops. But what do I do with the “I don’t wanna’s!” while building our connection?

  28. 8
    sherry thomson says:

    Hi Carolyn, I love this post and thinking about my happy childhood memories of connecting with animals. I think I was born wanting to be a horse or just be with horses. My friend and I always had phantom horses that we would ride everywhere. When I was 10 yrs old I being a very inquisitive child I asked a man at a gas station where he was taking the horse that he was transporting he said to the glue factory, I told him that my father would buy him for $100. He drove the horse to my home which was near by and my father actually did buy the horse for $100.I shared territory with that horse every minute that I could I slept on her in the afternoons read to her went swimming with her she was my best friend and I will never forget her I also had no tack for the first year so I would ride her bare back with the halter she came with and a rope. I guess I kind of lost that magic when I got into organized riding and showing on the circuit it became very prim and proper and not so genuine there were moments for sure because I loved my horses but not the same until I found your WHR and re-remembered and now again I am in love with my herd and spend most of my time with them sharing territory companion walking and just feeling the love they offer me. I love what I do. Sherry (insider circle)

  29. 7
    Candle Hill says:

    Dear Carolyn,

    What a lovely task you’ve set us for today. I cannot remember the last time I thought about me-the-child, a quiet little soul like a pot of strawberries. As a child, I lived in a world of animals and found my human obligations tedious. I was always able to communicate well with animals. My family has a photo of me age about 5, sitting under a tree with wild birds perched on my finger and arm. They say I used to call birds out of the trees all the time as a small child, and I sort-of remember it, but I am not certain, now, if it is an actual memory or only a recollection of the photograph. I cannot do it any longer. Growing up I always had pet birds and squirrels and rabbits other undomesticated animals that would be brought to me orphaned or hurt and live in my room until they were well enough to release. When I was in college, I had a pet mink who lived secretly in my dorm room for his first 6 months and then moved outside. Yang sometimes attended classes with me, wrapped round my neck like a living fur collar. My last pet crow lived with me for a year right after college and sat on my shoulder through most of my first real job. The oddest thing about it was that it never even occurred to me how peculiar it was to go everywhere with that bird on my shoulder. So much for my level of sophistication, age 20.

    I don’t think my ability to connect with animals ever changed, not fundamentally. I learned a lot of stuff as I grew up, particularly with horses, about how to make them do my bidding — stuff that I was in the process of rejecting when I came across your methods earlier this year. I am happy to say that your Waterhole Rituals have accelerated the process to the speed of light. Perhaps I am on a trip to re-discover the child I used to be. How nice if she is there after all.

  30. 6
    Peta Naake says:

    Lovely post Carolyn. Makes me think of the crows{we call the raven crow over here in Australia} They nest in the trees in the horse paddock and one day I was quite shocked to see them on the horses backs collecting mane and tail hairs for their nests. My horse Prince did not mind at all but the first time one landed on Monty’s back he did a big pigroot to get it off. It was very comical.Then a few days later he was quite happy to have one on his back.
    I do remember having a connection with animals as a young child and then not having animals in my life for a long time. It takes a while to get it back again. I love just being out with the horses and the birds.We also have alot of pink and grey galahs sometimes as many as 50 or more sitting in the trees in the paddock. Imagine what it would be like if there were no birds in the trees.
    Thanks Carolyn. Peta

  31. 5
    Ritambhara Tyson says:

    I was horse crazy as a two year old when my parents put me on an old horse in the small paddock. I somehow slid off the horse and grabbed onto his leg so he wouldn’t go away , I already loved him. ( this is the story I have been told, I can’t imagine letting a two year old fall from a horse, but Oh well) Anyway, I spent my childhood yearning for a horse and never got one. I would seek out people who had them so I could ride them sometimes and I had an awesome Breyer horse collection, but I didn’t get my first horse until I was 30. I bought a yearling, and I didn’t really know much about owning a horse so I made all the mistakes you could make with a horse . I loved it too much. and he is a little pushy. I got into natural horsemanship with him and it changed a lot. I still have him, he’s 29 years old and now I have a 5 year old icelandic that I have been doing the waterhole rituals with for 4 years and he is so great! This is the relationship I wanted with my horse all along. Anyway, with my first horse, Chinook, I hung out with him a lot, because I couldn’t ride him yet, so I was unintentionally doing the sharing territory with him, and when I got on him the first time he was tied to a hitching post, in the barn! ( like I said, I was clueless!) But he has “filled in” for me all these years, and done everything I have asked. I think I was like a child when I was 30 with Chinook and he knew it!

  32. 4
    Christian Gundermann says:

    Dear Carolyn,

    I think I did not loose my instinct for connection with horses, but I did loose them with humans (not entirely, though!). Why I lost them with humans is too private a story to share on this forum, but it is thanks to my connection with horses that I am slowly learning how to reconnect with humans and for it to be OK. I am not sure if I can answer the question why I did not loose my instinct for connection with horses, but I know that I never feel anything could be lost when I am with horses. It’s all there. There is time, there is space, there we are, and nothing else matters. And I never worry what they think about me. And I never worry what I think about them. I don’t worry about tomorrow, and I don’t cling to yesterday. That’s why I connect with them.

    What an awesome and enormous exercise you have given us. I will stop here, but I could keep going…

    Reverences,

    Christian

  33. 3
    Ingrid Acebes says:

    It’s unfortuante how in “growing up” we lose, or are forced to give up our ability to see imaginary friends, or just play. I’m taking it all back! LOL!

    I’ve spent my entire life being more connected to animals than to humans. Until fairly recently, I belived that all humans were cold and hurtful, so my energy went into caring for animals. I gained an intuitive ability which could pinpoint their medical ailments. At the time I was working as an Animal Health Technician, and have, since no longer working full time in a hospital, lost it.

    I believe that maintaining stong instincts and creating the ability to have a posistive connection involves living in the moment, not over analyzing, self love, confidence and being genuinely happy with what I have and for those (furry or not) who I’m honoured to share my life with.

    I spent time endo-tapping my pot bellied pig, Mr. Gordo, today. He loved it!

  34. 2
    Samantha Martel says:

    As a child we always had a lot of animals around – dogs, cats, birds and others. One unusual one was a Raven, and in reading this blog post, of course the “raven looking for something” sounded so normal for a Raven and it made me smile. I use to spend hours just watching “Vicky” (Victoria after the Queen – all in black!), and Vicky would sometimes give me whatever she found. Now with my horses, I do the same – I watch what they are doing, without any reason other then that I enjoy it and am fascinated by it. I walk about and pick up things and they come over to see what I’ve found – and just doing this is all I want from them. I have no agenda or goal, other then to be friends. My partner is the same with them – he said to me that if he never rode that would be okay because it’s just as wonderful being with them and the rest is “icing on the cake”

    So I think that having no reason, other then the moment of being, has been the thing with me, and that’s what kids do – they just enjoy it for what it is instead of looking at it as a means to an end.

    thank you again
    samantha martel

  35. 1
    Kathy Cavanah says:

    I’m wondering if I ever had the instinct to connect. As a child I was wanting a horse like crazy, (just like most little girls) but that was not something my parents would even consider. I thought it was everyone else who had horses, not me. I don’t remember having anything that I might connect with. When I was in the sixth grade my friend gave me a kitten for my birthday. That same day my dad made me go house to house to find a new home for the kitten. I found one. Then, when I got home he said I could keep it. (Insert a dirty word at this point.)

    So, as an adult when I got my horse my role models were people who at one thime maybe had the ability to connect, but not anymore. Everything was done fast and mean. I thought that was the correct way.

    But, that was before I knew better.