Sharing Territory with Carolyn Resnick’s Waterhole Rituals by Sally Adam

Sharing territory by Sally Adam

Sally horses lyingIf you’ve followed Carolyn’s blog for any length of time, you’ll know she’s big on “sharing territory”. And if you’re anything like me, you think to yourself: “What a waste of time. I wanna train my horse, not sit around gazing at my navel. Anyway, I’m far too busy for such foolishness.”

Carolyn makes all sorts of claims about the benefits of sharing territory. It’ll deepen your relationship with your horse. Problems you are having with your horse will just magically vanish. And so on. All pretty flakey, really.

When I started playing with the Waterhole Rituals, just a few months after getting my first horse (my girlish pony phase only started in my late 40’s), I swished a reed around and Lead from Behind and was impressed with the results, enough to make me want to understand the rituals better. I signed up for the Insider’s Circle program in 2011.

To start with, Carolyn announced, we would be spending two weeks sharing territory with our horse. I was appalled. I was resistant. For heaven’s sake – I’m spending money to be told to sit in a chair and ignore my horse? It turns out, actually, that mostly I was scared. I wasn’t used to being around horses. It didn’t seem like a safe thing to do, to sit near a horse. What if it ran over me, or kicked me or …. my imagination ran amok. (Please understand that we’re not talking about a wild mustang here; my pony is child-safe and very polite – this was all about my own lack of experience and my overdeveloped self-preservation tendencies.)

I jammed myself in a safe corner where I could easily duck under the electric tape should my worst fears be realized. Not surprisingly, the horse didn’t come near me. An hour a day for two weeks and the closest he got was 10 feet away. Hmmm.

Sally and essi selfy

After a while I started spending time with my two donkeys. They were thrilled. They regard themselves as lap-donkeys, which was terrifying for me when I first got them, to the extent that I would always put a fence between us unless I had them in halters. Thanks to Carolyn’s coaching, I now knew that it was okay to ask them to move back if they were crowding me. They quickly learned the rules and loved the fact that if they asked nicely, they were allowed to put their cuddly fuzzy heads in my lap and have me wrap my arms around them.

Eventually I got brave enough to hang out with all four horsekeys at the same time. I had by now learned what to watch for: any signs of grumpiness within the herd which might have lead to a tricky situation and I could either intervene or leave. They didn’t like being banished though, so the equine manners are generally good when I’m around. This once scary ritual of sharing territory has evolved into a precious, priceless part of my day. I’ve never been very good at meditating, but when I’m with the horses it’s that much easier to slip into their way of being and clear my head of everything except what my senses are telling me at that moment. I sit on the roots of the giant bluegum tree where they like to snooze, and the horsekeys are genuinely pleased to have me there.

So has it deepened our relationship? Oh my goodness – where do I start! Recently a visiting little girl fell in love with my pony and rode him every day. At the end of her stay she made me an illustrated thank-you card. The pony is depicted as having his head turned so that you can see both eyes “because”, explained the girl’s grandmother, “that pony never takes his eyes off you!”.

Sally garlic cardWhat about problems simply vanishing? Those donkeys of mine had always been resistant to walking on a line and were practically impossible to separate. It was a hassle trying to walk them together and they would often break free and charge off. After a few weeks of sharing territory I asked one if he would like to go for a walk. “Sure!” he said eagerly, diving into his halter. And off we went. On a loose line. Along our narrow trails, through the forest, up the hill. Happy, enjoying the outing. I tried the other donkey – she was also delighted to accompany me, never allowed the line to go taut and we had a splendid time. Their leading problem had, well, vanished!

As Carolyn says, if you are only going to try one ritual, make it Sharing Territory. There’s not a single downside and you may well see magic happen, even if you’re a disbeliever.


Carolyn’s Response:

What I have experienced teaching my method online concerning Sharing Territory is that it has been a controversial ritual because of what Sally expressed… who wants to waste time in a program that you have spent money on.

I want to help newcomers understand the purpose of why this ritual is the foundation of my program. Horses do not view humans as family. They prefer horses to humans, this leaves a horse skeptical of his training program. When Sharing Territory you are able to bring out the optimistic nature of the horse and develop a desire to follow your lead and participate enthusiastically in the training process. It is also a spiritual development for a person to find out exactly their true nature and an ability to develop an inner knowingness in how to lead and how to direct.

The two weeks that we spend Sharing Territory in my online course is part mediation and part intimate interactions with your horse using flexible boundaries as a way to develop a working bond.

On the subject of bonding with the horse: you can bond with a horse but it does not necessarily mean that a horse is willing and optimistic through the training process. By Sharing Territory we are able to prepare the horse to choose our leadership over his own and give him a way to understand the communication that is needed for his training.

I personally look at training as a self realization for us humans to become more than we are through the ways of horses. Thank you Sally, I loved your story.  It was fun and humorous and expressed the value of what my online course has to offer.

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

Warmly, Carolyn

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Desiree Taylor & Barbie * the Netherlands * IC - last year Reply

Ohhh Sally, your story is SO recognizable and well worded it made me laugh out loud 😀 !! I, too, started out feeling just sitting with the horses was a bit of a waste of time. Sure, it was enjoyable (when the sun was shining), but shouldn’t I be out there DOING something with the horses? We humans are so funny!!

Thank you very much for sharing.


KiraHolm - last year Reply

Dear Carolyn,
Just wanted to express my deepest gratitude for this particular Ritual of Sharing Territory. This ritual have really opened my eyes to the depth of your method. It is so much more than a series of rituals to be learned. It is a soul journey for the human to get to were the soul of the horse is. That special state of mind and being, which we too often seem to forget when we live the many times stressed life, that many feel is necessary. However, even living like that this ritual, I have found, have brought a calmness and a sense of being to me and my deepest inner essence that I have not achieved before even when meditating on my own. The horses presence, brings it to an even deeper level. Being here at your ranch has truly opened my eyes to what a profound effect this ritual can have on the work with the horse. If this is in place and I am in that state of mind, I can sense how deep this method can become and how light the signals can become. To me this is a journey of self discovery as well as a journey of discovering the true nature of the horse and being on that same wavelength. This is one of the many insights and enlightenment I have achieved by being here at your ranch as a working student.
Thank you Carolyn.
Warmly, Kira

Niki Taylor - last year Reply

Hi Carolyn,

I love this blog! The story Sally shared is incredibly cute! Sally I am so happy that you decided to stick it out and had such wonderful results. It really is incredible how much it will change.

I feel like I must be really lazy because when I joined the extended circle last year with my horse Chica and discovered we were to go and sit in the paddock I thought it was the best thing anyone had ever asked me to do with a horse! I couldn’t wait to go out and give it a go! It took all of the pressure off of both of us and I feel like I saw my little horse for the first time. It was incredible and I felt so blessed to have discovered you Carolyn and your wonderful method.

And now that I am here at your beautiful ranch and I have delved ever deeper into the ritual of Sharing Territory, well it has knocked my socks off!! I have come alive and the world around me has come alive. I remember how when I was first here and I struggled with it, I felt I was not able to remain present and aware of my surroundings if I were reading. Well that has changed so much and now I spend many very blissful hours firmly in neutral with Honey or Marchador. And it has crossed over into my everyday life, I find myself more aware of my surroundings, I stay focused and connected. I have been searching for a way into this world for years and now I have found one, and a very beautiful one! And now because of sharing territory with Honey I can ask him to stay in the box while I groom him and he just falls asleep! Where before I would spend more time re-positioning him than I would brushing him, he too is a very good teacher!

Thank you so much Carolyn, I am so grateful to you and your method. You have changed my life, you have turned everything around and it just keeps turning. I fall in love with life more every single day that I am here and I cannot wait to learn more. Sharing territory rocks!! Going to go now to hang out with my favourite red head, Honey.

Niki xx

CarolynBourchier - last year Reply

Thank you Sally, We have all travelled this path and know exactly how you felt and now feel. Beautifully written.
Thanks to Carolyn too, of course.
Much love
Carolyn B xx

BonnieJBeresford - last year Reply

Sharing territory is THE way I evolved from a monkey-mind with an agenda into one who can just *be* with my horses in the timeless now , bathing my mind and soul in serenity and one-ness with them and all of creation. This is a gift given to me, that I can give back to them. It is essential now to establish that mindfulness before I start my day with them, whatever it is we decide to do. That is the mind-set my horses can connect to, and things go much better with it than without it.

Sally Adam South Africa IC Garlic - last year Reply

A friend (who I only recently discovered is a horse person from way back) replied to my article with this snippet:

” I remember my favourite way of studying when I was a kid was to sit-lie back-to front on my pony with the book on his rump while he went on happily grazing.”

Isn’t that a lovely picture?


    VivianLaramee-Berthelette - last year Reply

    Hello Sally, i love the way you tell your story.
    I think it is also one of your horse that had a private message for Carolyn in the insider first video. hihihihi
    I really love who you are.
    thank you and say hi to Sam. I love his message; his presence!!!!


DianeUrsch - last year Reply

Great blog, Sally! Love your humor. I have horsekeys also–2 of each. Adore them. Nothing like letting time pass in their presence. A blessing to have this knowledge.

Marja van Run - last year Reply

Thanks Sally for sharing your great story and pictures; I love your sense of humour :-)!
If I hadn’t learned from Carolyn about the value of Sharing Territory, I would probably never have started it of my own accord. Now I think it’s the one best thing to ‘do’ with horses. If anything, Share Territory!


linda j salinas - last year Reply

Hi Sally & Carolyn,

Thank you Sally for sharing your experience with ST. I too have shared some of the same thoughts as you did so I really appreciate how honest you are.

Through Carolyn’s Method I have a greater desire to simply “be” and there is no place better to “be” then in the pasture with the herd. I find it to be the most amazing of the rituals and it is where I start my training program with all horses and also my clinics, without exception. I use to feel that sitting out in the pasture was a luxury that time would allow, but who had extra time? Now I see it as the core of my training and I simply can’t do without it. In the beginning I felt like doing nothing was accomplishing nothing and that only action can produce something. Like you…..boy was I wrong. It’s been one of the best lessons I have learned for myself and for my horses. Sharing territory is my favorite ritual. Being present simply feeds my soul and the animals who care to join me in sharing territory. I can’t live without it and I love sharing that knowledge with others.

Thank you Sally, I enjoyed reading your blog very much. Thank you Carolyn for having this blog. It too feeds my soul and I feel when I read it weekly we are somehow sharing territory and bonding.

Make it a great day today! Love you,


Ann-ChristineChurch - last year Reply

Dear Sally
What a wonderful story, thanks for sharing it with us.
Anki Church

Mel Davis & J.R. - last year Reply

Very reassuring. Very nice story. Thank-you for sharing!

Erica Dixon Izzy & Bijoux EC Spring 2011, BTWHR's 2012, IC Spring 2013, EC August 2013 - last year Reply

I love you story Sally! I remember watching you & Garlic in that Spring 2011 course. How I smiled when you said that the equine manners are good around you these days. Isn’t that just something to behold? & to give them such peace via our inner peace I feel is such a gift for them.

To further encourage anybody wondering: My sharing territory meditations (light meditations) have turned into one of the most joyful things in my life. I never thought I could meditate either until Carolyn mentioned a simple & beautiful way into it. A way which I now know is a master way. I have found such a blissed out feeling from all this that it has caused my health & well being to improve exponentially. & then my horses – well it is just what dreams are made of.

Some people say to me: “Oh I don’t have time for all this” – as they sit in the tack room with their cup of coffee…………….!

Best wishes


JayneForster - last year Reply

Dear carolyn and sally,
Lovely to share your experience,I was rather the same,luckily I had decided I had paid the money and better do what carolyn says I threw myself into the whole online course even though I was very much a doer with my horses. Wow how thats changed if I can only find time for one thing it will be time with them,enjoying who they are and their company.
I recently had this revelation,that a horse can appear willing ( but maybe its resigned to ) do anything for his owner, but can still put up a barrier and not really let you in to that heartfelt connection,now I know what that feels like,I have to have it before anything else can happen in a truly joyfull harmonious way.It is just how you say Carolyn you want the training to be willing AND opitimistic. I am having so much fun trying to work with different horses and am myself optimistic about learning and evolving.
Thank you for all you do and hope you and your students are enjoying the start of something special with the online course.
love jayne and Noo noo.

MargaretCruise - last year Reply

On my first day of sharing territory with two of my horses, we all got so relaxed that they hung their heads over my lap and started nodding off- their muzzles would touch my lap and they’d wake back up and do it again. What a great way to combine such wonderful things- horses, nature, and a good book! Thanks Carolyn!

Elodie Belz (IC Spring 2011, BTWHR December 2012) - last year Reply

Great blogpost Sally! Thank you for sharing your story with us!

lydapola - last year Reply

Lyda Pola – IC – Maine – Sundae

Sally, I too have Carolyn to thank for giving me permission to just sit with my horses. I have heard others think that just sitting with a horse is non-productive or not satisfying. I certainly can appreciate that since I was brought up to always accomplish something. Now I wonder where did that come from and who says?
I am free of guilt now since I see what happens when I do just sit with my horses and I would not have known that if were not for this course. I am hooked to sitting around and listening, breathing, sighing and enjoying the moment in a way I could not have done before.

Chris Driscoll - last year Reply

As a new insider circle member, my first thoughts were similar. Sit an hour a day! I don’t have that time! After the first day, I was hooked. The hour was up and I didn’t want to go. It was so pleasant being with my horses. I even watched the mare take a nap, and dream. She was nickering and her little legs were moving in her sleep! The next day my gelding snoozed as well, and nickered in his sleep. How cute is that! Can’t wait to see what is next…

StephanieMorse - last year Reply

Great story Sally

I think a lot of people are a little nervous that the big horses could crush them (if they wanted) and I think that is why so many people get harsh with their horses.

I must be lazy as I love sharing territory. I just bought a new folding chair to lug out to the pasture (it’s a camp chair) and is a lot easier to carry out to where the gang is hanging.

I see I should start sharing territory more with my horse Dexter, as he is a bum to lead. He’s huge, and just takes it upon himself to start leaping around when he decides to spook at something. I’ll start that and report back in 2 weeks.

Glad you’re enjoying your horses and donkeys.

Lynn - last year Reply

What a fun story. I totally felt the same way. And yes, even a little uncomfortable or fearful. “How do I not have an agenda?” Thank goodness I stuck with it and trusted in Carolyn that there must be a reason for this. It’s the best thing that ever happened to my life.

Lynn P.

KateBremer - last year Reply

I loved this. Thank you Carolyn for sharing Sally’s story especially as it involves donkeys. I will be sharing this blog with friends who have donkeys. I am off to go share territory with my burros and horses now. Thank you for creating a joyful energy for me to go and do that.

KayTomlinson - last year Reply

Dear Sally,

Thanks for this great post! I can sure resonate with your experiences! Sharing Territory has been life-changing for me, too, and it’s gone from something a bit frightening into the thing I love most to do in the entire world.

And Carolyn, thank you SO much for bringing the wisdom of your experience and sharing it with us in the form of a practice, a ritual, that we can all benefit from–humans and horses alike.

Love and hugs!

— Kay

Lindy England and Dancer from Canada IC - last year Reply

Thank you for sharing your beautiful story, Sally. It brought tears to my eyes, and that doesn’t happen often. You have helped me be more optimistic and patient. I too am not very good at meditating and continually want to give up this ritual. My mind keeps saying “this is wasting precious time – I could be doing things!” However, I will continue my attempts with hope that my horses’ presence helps me to relax into peace.

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