Carolyn Resnick Horsemanship: Liberty Horse Training

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

MaryGaye and Cowboy

Carolyn encourages her students to have a child-like imagination when working with their horses. So, when Easter rolled around this year, I tried to imagine how that most child-like activity, Easter egg hunting, might improve my relationship and leadership with my big, lead horse, Cowboy. Here’s what happened…

Cowboy and MaryGayeOver the past two years, the Waterhole Rituals have helped me bring out Cowboy’s best qualities. Cowboy went from being dominant and stubborn to being cooperative and compliant. With the Waterhole Rituals, Cowboy and I have had many beautiful dances together at Liberty. However, there are times when I ask Cowboy to come with me and he says “no”. It may be because he is busy with something else (like waiting to be fed, grazing or napping), or it may be that I have asked him to go to a place he’s not sure he wants to go (like on trails through the woods). When this happens, it’s my job to figure out how to get him to pay attention to me and willingly go where I ask.

This is what I imagined Easter egg hunting could do to help me with this dilemma:

1) Easter egg hunting will persuade Cowboy to go with me at a time, or to a place, when he would rather not go. Why? Because Cowboy loves games and carrots. If he thinks that we are playing a game and the reward is finding carrots, he will be willing to leave what he is doing and come with me. Eventually, this will evolve into Cowboy going with me wherever and whenever I ask.

2) It will teach Cowboy to keep his attention on me and ignore other distractions.Why? Several reasons: Because I’m better at finding the eggs then he is. Also, because I can get the carrots out of the eggs and he cannot. Plus, Cowboy enjoys the game, he knows that I am in charge of the game and he doesn’t want to risk stopping the game before all the eggs (a/k/a carrot containers) are found.

3) Side benefits: Easter egg hunting gives us a chance to work on the draw, companion walking, changing direction, transitions from walk to halt and lots of head up and head down. This is also an exercise that builds respect around food and makes it possible to ride your horse over a grassy field and your horse will not try to graze when you don’t want him to.

Clutch of Eggs

Clutch of EggsTo test my hypotheses I arrived at the barn one beautiful Sunday afternoon, an hour before feeding time, carrying a clutch of 8 shiny, colored plastic Easter eggs, each containing a piece of carrot. It seemed a good time of day for this game, since Cowboy, thinking about lunch, would be willing to come with me towards the barn where we would “discover” the hidden Easter eggs.

When I arrived, Cowboy and the herd were about a quarter-mile out in the pasture, so I loaded up my Easter basket and headed out to hide the eggs along the path between Cowboy and the pasture gate to the barn. I hid the first two eggs by trees located close to the gate. Then, since it was our first egg hunt and needed to be easy, I placed the remaining eggs in relatively plain sight along the meandering trail leading out towards Cowboy.

Cowboy and the herd

Cowboy was splashing in a large muddy puddle when he noticed me bobbing around in the pasture. Curious boy that he is, he ambled over to see what I was up to. When he arrived, I had just hidden the last egg. I pointed it out to him, picked it up, let him sniff it, then opened it and gave him the carrot. Suspecting that there was more to this situation than first met the eye, Cowboy came along happily when I invited him to go and look for more eggs. When we came upon the next shiny egg, we halted while I bent down and pointed to the egg for Cowboy to see. Then I picked the egg up, opened it and handed him the carrot. That second carrot did it, the “light bulb” went on in Cowboy’s head and he knew a game had begun. When we started walking again, Cowboy had his nose to the ground scanning for more eggs. We soon spotted the next shiny egg and went right to it. Cowboy considered picking the egg up by himself, but I asked for head up while I retrieved the egg and gave him the carrot.

Cowboy Egg hidden by treeFrom there we moved on to the next two Easter eggs. When we reached the eggs, I asked for a halt, Cowboy would touch the egg with his nose, I would ask for head up, and then picked up the egg and gave him the carrot. A win/win situation.

My Hypotheses

The real testing of my hypotheses began as we approached our last three eggs. While we had been hunting for the first five eggs, the rest of the herd had moved past us toward the gate to the barn. This placed several horses in our path to the remaining eggs. In Cowboy’s world, other horses are not allowed on his path. Thus, keeping Cowboy with me, rather than him rushing off to move other horses, was the ultimate challenge. Luckily, he was so concerned about looking for eggs, that when I asked him to stay with me, he complied, without even laying his ears back or shaking his head at the other horses. So, instead of Cowboy moving the other horses, I used my reed to gently move them out of our way.

cowboy What are we doing nowHowever, after the first horses were moved from our path, Cowboy became agitated when he noticed the rest of the herd at the gate where he would normally be at the front of the line. While he considered rushing off to move those horses, I regained control by excitedly pointing out the big yellow egg on the side of the path. When Cowboy spied the egg, he thought it over for moment and abandoned the idea of chasing other horses, turned to me and came to retrieve his prize! I was elated!

As we moved closer to the gate, Cowboy’s tension increased — he really felt the primal need to move those horses out of his way. I asked him to stay with me while I moved the other horses. Again, because he was so fascinated with the egg hunt, he obeyed my request. Despite the fact that there were several other horses around us, his attention remained fixed on me. His attentiveness was rewarded by our discovery of the last two eggs by the trees.

cowboy connection

Our amazing connection continued as I was able to take him, at liberty, through the herd of horses, stop and open the gate and leave the pasture without Cowboy trying to move a single horse. This really was beyond any of my wildest dreams!


After leaving the pasture, we went into the barn where Cowboy entered his stall to wait for lunch. Well, it wasn’t quite lunch time so, flush with victory; I refilled the eggs with carrots and headed out to a different pasture behind Cowboy’s stall. I wanted to see if I could get Cowboy to go some place he didn’t want to go – away from the barn at feeding time. Knowing that he would need to see that we were still Easter egg hunting, I hid the first egg in plain sight about 25 feet behind his paddock gate. I then hid the other eggs in various places moving away from the barn and then back towards another entrance to the barn.

Cowboy Peeking out of his stall

When I excitedly came back into Cowboy’s stall and asked him to come with me, he looked over his shoulder at me as if to say: “I’m not moving, I’m waiting for lunch.” However, he was still intrigued by the egg hunt and I was finally able to persuade him to at least come peek out the door towards the pasture. When he did, I hurried to the first egg and showed it to him. After considering the possibilities, he sauntered out to investigate. When he discovered that we were having another egg hunt, he signed on and we moved on to the seven other eggs in rapid succession. Success!!!

With our first two egg hunts I achieved my initial goals:

1) getting Cowboy to stay focused on me, and 2) getting him go somewhere he didn’t want to go. During our first hunt, Cowboy learned to stay close and focused on me as we navigated through the herd and out the gate. During the second hunt he again focused on me, but this time he went with me to a place he did not really want to go – outside his stall at feeding time. Huge victories!Cowboy finds an egg

Since that Sunday, Cowboy and I have been on several Easter egg hunts. Each time, once he discovered it was an egg hunt, he was happy to go with me, paying close attention to my requests. While there were a couple of occasions when he considered hunting eggs on his own, I foiled his intentions by hiding the eggs in deeper grass where they were quite difficult to find (Note: always count your eggs before you hide them, so you know if you have found them all). Thus, Cowboy has no choice but to rely on my superior egg hunting skills. He has also discovered that he needs me to liberate the carrots from the eggs.

So as Carolyn always says, getting horses to cooperate does not need to be complicated, difficult or forceful. It just takes imagination and using the resources available to a child.

Thank you MaryGaye for this lovely story about a creative and playful game that you and Cowboy created together.

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

Warmly, Carolyn

—————————————————————————–

 
Upcoming Events: 

Carolyn Resnick’s – Online Bit-less Riding Program – starts June 30th/July 1st and classes are bi-weekly for three months.  For more information click the link below or contact teddie@carolynresnick.com.

Bit-Less Riding Program

Carolyn and Liberty

 ———————————————————————————————————————————

Upcoming Events in Canada:

1)  A Look into the Waterhole Rituals with Sharolyn Wandzura, inspired by the Carolyn Resnick Method

Are you tired of Struggling and Ready to Start Snuggling with Your Horse?  A Look into the Waterhole Rituals Clinic is for you!For more information visit Ears Forward Coaching >>

Upcoming Events:

Waterhole Rituals Clinics with Linda Salinas, Certified Carolyn Resnick Trainer

- See more at: http://www.carolynresnickblog.com/liberty-dancing-with-horses-using-the-waterhole-rituals/#sthash.Aw9jAAsO.dpuf

Upcoming Events:

Waterhole Rituals Clinics with Linda Salinas, Certified Carolyn Resnick Trainer

- See more at: http://www.carolynresnickblog.com/liberty-dancing-with-horses-using-the-waterhole-rituals/#sthash.Aw9jAAsO.dpuf

Waterhole Rituals in Canada

2)  Beyond Natural Horsemanship with Marino Latto, inspired by the Carolyn Resnick Method

Take your skills to the next level.  Allow your horse to reach a new level of mental, emotional and physical well-being.For more information visit www.legendequestrian.com or email Marino at legended@live.ca

Upcoming Events:

Waterhole Rituals Clinics with Linda Salinas, Certified Carolyn Resnick Trainer

- See more at: http://www.carolynresnickblog.com/liberty-dancing-with-horses-using-the-waterhole-rituals/#sthash.Aw9jAAsO.dpuf

Upcoming Events:

Waterhole Rituals Clinics with Linda Salinas, Certified Carolyn Resnick Trainer

- See more at: http://www.carolynresnickblog.com/liberty-dancing-with-horses-using-the-waterhole-rituals/#sthash.Aw9jAAsO.dpuf

Clinic Date: August 10th, 2013 – Gibraltar, Ontario

Marina flyer 

 

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42 Responses to “The Easter Egg Hunt with My Horse by MaryGaye LeBoeuf”

  1. 21
    Stina says:

    Dear Mary,

    What a great blog, thank you for sharing your story. You are such a good writer! I am so glad to have meet you in person at Ruella’s Ranch. Hope to meet Cowboy one day.
    Playing games like you write about is really good to improve your relationship with your horse. It usually also helps us humans “loosen up” a bit too.

    Much Sunshine and lots of Rain from St. Vincent

    Kind regards Stina

    • 21.1
      MaryGaye says:

      Stina — Thank you! It was so great to meet you here in Oklahoma! Your clinic was so much fun! Very inspiring! You put so much fun and energy into working with the horses. I still want a couch to put in the pasture to play around with the horses as you did for your video! And playing games like this with our horses does help loosen up us humans quite a bit. I smile throughout our egg hunts and I’m often reduced to giggles at the expressions on Cowboy’s face and his intense scrutiny of the ground looking for eggs. Yet, despite all the seeming silliness, great learning and building of relationship is going on. Horse training can be so much fun, at least when you do it the Carolyn Resnick way!!

  2. 20
    Aline Mellema/ IC/ Angel and Vicky/ Netherlands/ ECspring2011, ICfall2011, BTWRCmarch2012 says:

    Wow, you are so creative MaryGaye!! :D
    Loved your blog and loved the game! what a wonderful idea!
    Thanks for sharing :)

    • 20.1
      MaryGaye says:

      Thank you Aline! I’m glad you enjoyed my story. I really enjoy watching the videos and posts you put on Facebook showing and telling us what you are doing with Angel!

  3. 19
    jannie smit (ic spring and summer . BWHR december 2012 says:

    Hi MaryGaye,

    Great story and so much fun.

    I have done this game with Ivanhoe but not with the treats hidden in “easter eggs”. I think it is a great a great idea to have the treat in a container so they have to rely on your leadership (as Karin was saying).

    I introduced the game not because Ivanhoe did not want to come with me but because he was too enthusiastic to go for a walk somewhere and forgot about me and just went ahead of me. If I tried to bring him back to me he would resist and basically said; ” I want to go there now and I am not interested in you”. With the “hunting” game he really started to focus on me and was waiting for my directions.

    It has been a long time ago I did this game but I will start doing it again. I am going to find some really nice containers.

    Thanks for sharing this nice story.

    Jannie

  4. 18

    MaryGaye and Carolyn,

    I like this post so much, MaryGaye. I, too, have a horse(Roscoe)who tends to do a quick cost-benefit analysis before deciding whether he wants to go with me to another location farther away from his field and immediate area. So, we get mixed results at liberty. I have placed grains at different locations that he discovers along our path to motivate him, but I like your idea much more because Cowboy has to rely on your leadership in actually gaining access to the carrots. I will try this. Also liked Elodie’s video.

    Carolyn, I liked the comment that you are the Einstein of the horse world.

    Karin

    • 18.1

      Oh Karin, that’s such a good description–”a quick cost-benefit analysis!” My mare Nevada does that all the time! Galahad not as much, thank goodness.

      – Kay

      • 18.1.1
        MaryGaye says:

        ” A quick cost-benefit analysis” what an absolutely perfect description of how Cowboy’s mind works! You can see him totting it all up in his head, especially whether it’s worth the energy to move to the egg. He’s also assessing how long it might be before I bring it to him. But that’s against the rules. He has to come to the egg. Maybe we need a group Called the Cost Benefit Herd, and everyone who has a horses with this particular outstanding characteristic can share stories and laugh about our carefully calculating horses!

        Thank you Karin for your reply! I hope you have a chance to give it a try and share your experiences. I have tried other things, including carrots under traffic cones. But the eggs really seem to add to the mystique for Cowboy! I’m very curious what other people might think up to add to the game and how other horses will react.

        Have Fun!! MG

  5. 17
    Juergen Rust says:

    MaryGaye,
    This is absolutely brilliant! What a fantastic idea! Congratulations!!!
    Juergen

  6. 16
    Jayne Forster NooNoo,IC,UK says:

    Dear Marygaye,Great story and game,Noo noo is very motivated by carrots but doesn t like leaving the herd,she will,but bet she’ll love to play this.I just need to find some eggs or substitute eggs,hhmm got to get the old imagination going.Thanks for sharing.
    Hope you are well Carolyn,I have started your program with my big chestnut horse Stanley and he’s so easy he just does it!!! Noo noo was great for me to start with as every other horse seems easy,she has recently helped a local lady who was grieving after the loss of a horse she read your blog about our story and came to visit Noo noo.She was so happy to hear about your work and see Noo noo and I and the love we share,she is sharing lots of territory with her other horses and I will visit her to meet them.
    Much love
    Jayne and Noo noo.
    off to find eggs!!

    • 16.1
      MaryGaye says:

      Jayne and Noo Noo. Thank you for your comments! You can order plastic eggs from Amazon.com. I hope Noo Noo will love the game too! I think another part of the reason that Cowboy enjoys the game so much, is all the positive energy coming from me — the idea of easter egg hunting makes me smile and laugh and I think he wonders what I’m so happy about. It is so fun!!

  7. 15
    Hertha says:

    Below is an article summarising the results of a PhD study on using food rewards with horses.

    I play this game often – hiding apple slices and it is definitely a favourite game!

    A great way to get horses curious about going places they haven’t gone before too.

    We are giving them a destination (which improves our focus and makes our intent clearer to the horse, and we celebrate with food when we reach our destination.

    What’s not to love about that :-)

    Here is the article

    http://www.thehorse.com/articles/32101/study-food-rewards-can-improve-horse-training

    Study: Food Rewards Can Improve Horse Training
    By Christa Lesté-Lasserre JUN 25, 2013

    Pay attention. Are you listening? Are you looking at me?

    Maybe a nibble of feed will get your attention.

    Positive reinforcement with food rewards appears to help horses in
    training learn better. French equine behavior researchers believe this
    is because the horses are paying more attention to their trainers.

    “Our studies show that actions of a positive value induce an increase
    in the horse’s attention, not only toward a particular stimulus (e.g.,
    food) but toward the entire situation,” said Céline Rochais, MSc, PhD
    candidate in the equine behavior department of the University of
    Rennes, in France. “Attention is a key element in the learning and
    memorization process (as shown by previous researchers); an increase
    in a horse’s attention can explain the increase in its training
    performance rates when using food rewards.”

    Rochais presented her research at the 2013 French Equine Research Day
    held Feb. 28 in Paris.

    Researchers have long known that positive reinforcement using a food
    reward yields faster and longer-lasting training results than does
    negative reinforcement (release of something negative, like pressure,
    not to be confused with punishment). The Rennes research team also
    previously compared food rewards to wither-scratching rewards and
    found that our equine friends really do learn better when they get a
    tasty treat than a scratch or rub.

    But Rochais’ work brings us to a better understanding of why this
    happens. She explained that attention is the key to learning, and
    previous studies in humans and other animals have shown that where
    there’s attention, there’s also training. And when horses get food
    rewards, they pay closer attention.

    In her study of 30 yearlings and 2-year-olds divided into different
    training groups (food rewards, wither-scratching rewards, and no
    rewards), Rochais and colleagues monitored signs of the horses’
    attention: where they were looking, where they were pointing their
    ears, and how they curved their necks.

    The team even watched the way the horses “investigated” their
    trainers, smelling them and gently nibbling on them. The horses in
    these studies had only had minimal contact with humans before the
    study, with no training.

    Rochais found the food-reward group spent significantly more time than
    horses in the other two groups looking at the trainers, keeping at
    least one ear turned toward the trainers, and curving their necks
    toward the trainers. They also tended to show more interest in their
    trainers by exploring them with their noses and lips, Rochais said.

    She said it’s worth noting that the horses weren’t distracted by
    looking for food. On the contrary, she said, they showed significant
    restraint representing a clear case of solid learning. The trainers
    taught the horses to stand still on command (“Stay!”) for up to 60
    seconds while they walked away from or around the horse. The horses
    quickly learned that if they did as told, they would receive the food
    reward faster than if they went searching for it somewhere on the
    trainer, Rochais said.

    On the other hand, horses that were either not rewarded or rewarded
    with wither scratching tended to be more distracted by their
    environment, turning their attention to other sights and sounds away
    from the trainer, Rochais said. “These studies clearly show that the
    use of positive reinforcement (with food) is associated with an
    elevated attention level of the horse towards the trainer,” said
    Rochais. “He looks more at the trainer; he listens more to him or her
    (according to the direction the ears are pointed); and he seeks more
    contact with that person.

    “By contrast, the absence of such reinforcement is associated with
    increased inattention towards the human,” she concluded. “Furthermore,
    the use of touch (wither-scratching) does not induce any improvement
    whatsoever in the attention level of the horse towards the trainer, as
    horses rewarded with wither scratching appeared to show equivalent
    attention levels as those not rewarded at all.”

    • 15.1
      MaryGaye says:

      Hertha: Thank you for sharing with us how and why you play hide and seek with treats! It’s interesting to hear the other uses people have found for this type of game and the results they have gotten! Also, thank you for sharing this wonderful study! I am a researcher by profession and to have research like this to confirm my hypothese, really makes me happy! Amazing to me is that the majority of people I meet, still oppose giving horses treats. They are also the people that have to go chase their horses in the pasture, while I just call mine and they come to me in a hurry so we can have an easter egg hunt or go to the barn and for a treat. :)

  8. 14
    Andrea Schwiegel says:

    Beautiful story, thanks for sharing :))
    Andrea

  9. 13
    Anna-Karin Hägglund , Ameri Kahn, Sweden, EC says:

    I have been thinking of how to develop “Go out and seek carrot game” and now I know :) ! Thank you MaryGaye for that brilliant idea! Now I understand why I have saved all those eastern egg…
    I will trye this game tomorrow and I think Ameri K will love it!

    What a great job you did with your Cowboy and thank you for sharing!

    Anna-Karin

    • 13.1
      MaryGaye says:

      Anna-Karin thank you so much for your kind comments! I’m glad you enjoyed the story and liked the idea. I too have saved many plastic easter eggs thinking I might need them some day. But I never thought I’d be using them to hunt carrots with a horse in a pasture! Most fun thing I’ve ever done with them. I hope your horse Ameri K loves it! I would love to hear about your experience.

  10. 12
    MaryGaye says:

    Thank you all so much! Your comments make me so happy! Having this blog published and reading your wonderful comments is made even more meaningful because today is Cowboy’s and my 5th anniversary! What a long journey those 5 years have been. But the WHR have turned a tough, bumpy rather dismal road into a magic carpet ride! Thank you Carolyn!! I hope you all have as much fun as Cowboy and I have hunting easter eggs. I would love to hear about your experiences! It never ceases to make me laugh out loud when I see Cowboy leave the herd and come a considerable distance, to watch over the fence while I hide easter eggs — he’s so intent and ready to play. But what really astounds me is the evolution of things I never realized would come out of this simple game! I can now companion walk and trot with Cowboy, without easter eggs, in an large pasture. Before we started easter egg hunting, he would walk “with me” in the pasture, but we were not connected. Usually, he would not stay with me when I turned or stopped, nor would he walk at the speed I wanted. Now, we are connected and he stays right with me. Frankly, I’m astonished! It is amazing how Carolyn brings out and encourages the creative spark in working with horses and the results we can get by being creative! I have so many old school thoughts bumping around in my brain about how to work with horses. Thank goodness Carolyn has helped me ignore those thoughts and go with my imagination. Carolyn is our Einstein of the Horse World — teaching us that genius is 99% imagination and 1% knowledge.

  11. 11
    Ginny Carr Los Osos, California EC Holly says:

    MaryGaye, your story is so well-written and fun to read. I bet it will be fun to DO this with my Holly. I have hidden carrots for her, but having them come out of an egg that I have to open for her will make her pay more attention. Great idea! Thanks. Will try it out ASAP.
    Ginny

    • 11.1
      MaryGaye says:

      Ginny Thank you for you kind words! You’re right, there is something different for both me and Cowboy about hiding the carrots in the eggs. It makes me laugh, so the fun is there for me, and it makes Cowboy very curious (along with dependent on me to get the carrots out). Have a wonderful time easter egg hunting with Holly and I’d love to hear about your experience.

  12. 10
    Laurinda Reinhart says:

    I just loved this story! It brought a smile to my morning!! The pictures of cowboy really capture his spirit and the fun he is having. Can’t wait to give this game a try. Thank you!!

    • 10.1
      MaryGaye says:

      Laurinda — I’m so glad you enjoyed the story and we made you smile! Teddie did a great job with picking and laying out the photos. I’m so glad that you felt they really showed what a good time he was having! I hope you have a wonderful time playing easter egg hunt with your horse, too.

  13. 9

    What a great story.

    It’s so wonderful that you figured out a way to work with Cowboy instead of forcing him to do what you wanted. But that’s what Carolyn teaches, isn’t it?

    This is a game I’ll put on my ‘list’.

    Thank you so much

    • 9.1
      MaryGaye says:

      Stephanie, I’m so glad that you enjoyed our story! I had spent 3 1/2 years trying to force Cowboy. He was the clear winner. But since the magic of the WHR, we are both winning. I hope you and your horse have an opportunity to have an egg hunt and have as much fun as we do!

  14. 8
    Desiree Taylor/The Netherlands/EC & IC 2012, PC 2013 /Abby says:

    That’s just brilliant!! Horse training at its best!!

    • 8.1
      MaryGaye says:

      Thank you Desiree for you kind comments! The WHR and Carolyn’s encouragement of our imagination and emphasis on fun, really is horse training at its best!

  15. 7
    Elodie Belz (ICC spring 2011, BTWHR December 2012) says:

    Dear MaryGaye, thank you so much for sharing this idea of the egg hunt! It gives me a lot of ideas to try with Sami. For him, the challenge is to get away from the herd with me, as he becomes nervous when the other horses are out of sight. It slowly gets better as he starts focusing on me more and more, but there is still a place he really does not want to be: the roundpen, because he was traumatized by many join-ups with his previous owner. I have thought about asking him to follow me into the round pen, and then reward him with carrots once there, leaving all the gates open so that he can leave at any time and does not feel trapped. But I think that turning this into an egg hunt could be a great idea!! Sami also loves games and carrots, I am sure he would be thrilled about that :) So thanks again for sharing!

    Dear Carolyn, I hope you are well! I just wanted to share with you my progress with Sami. I don’t know if you remember, but last March during a call, I explained to you that I could not work with Sami in the arena because he was not comfortable and barged through the fence to escape. The reason was that he has some past trauma in that arena and that I tried to do too much energetic work with him when his energy level was high. I thought he wanted to play, but he was expressing his concerns, which I did not understand at that time. So you told me to share territory A LOT with him in a place where he was comfortable, which is the paddock and the shelter where he is living with the other horses. The idea was to then bring him back to the arena by hiding food buckets in different places of the arena and let him have a bite in each bucket before bringing him back, and then slwoly increase the time spent in the arena. Well… I still have not reached the part where I try to bring him back to the arena, because I started to enjoy the time in the paddock and the shelter SO MUCH, that all the rest sort of vanished. I know I will get there at some point, because I want to help Sami get rid of his fear and discomfort. But it does not feel of utmost importance anymore. I have been completely sinking in a horse world during the last months, and sharing territory has taken another dimension. I have been doing a lot of “small stuff” with Sami, like grooming him at liberty, introducing fly spray at liberty, playing with a ball, move him from his hay pile from time to time, saying hello. I even managed to work on leading from behind and on the one pile of hay there, with the other horses doing their stuff around us. Somehow, it feels that not being able to work in the arena was the best thing that could happen to Sami and me, because it forced me to really enter HIS world and to let go of all my expectations. I was forced to do only what I could do, and to be creative to work with my horse in this less than ideal space. In this process, I stepped into another dimension and I discovered that we could do many things. My bond with Sami has grown in a very natural way and he gave me many gifts over the past months. For a few weeks now, the big pasture is open. I have continued to work in the pasture as I did in the paddock and the shelter, and suddenly I found myself able to play with Sami, to companion walk and trot, to send him and to draw him back. It was so magical! I can ask him for a bit more energy without losing my connection to him. On the contrary, now that we have such a good bond, working with a bit more energy deepens the connection, and I can feel when he needs to pause and come back to quiet. I do not have many of these moments on video, because they are spontaneous, but I managed to get something yesterday and I would like to share it with you:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uR5qgakg5A4

    As you can see, we need to refine our style, but isn’t Sami beautiful? :)
    Carolyn, we (Sami and I) thank you so much for your guidance! Because you always say what needs to be said with honesty, I realized that I had to take another approach with Sami, and it brought us to where we are now. We still have a lot of challenges ahead of us, but we are “in a much better place” now than we were 3 months ago. So thank you again!

    Warmly,
    Elodie

    • 7.1
      MaryGaye says:

      Elodie your video was beautiful! I love the game you were playing with Sami. I was looking around our place today to figure out when and where we could try and play as you were with Sami. Thank you so much for sharing.

      • 7.1.1
        MaryGaye says:

        Whoops, hit the wrong key and sent Reply too soon. I’m so glad you enjoyed our story! It was so fun to write about. I hope it does help Sami with the arena fear! That’s what I’m working toward with Cowboy — getting him to go on an egg hunt to a place he fear — but with the egg hunt hopefully there will be no fear. Best of luck! Please post more videos of your great work!

  16. 6

    Dear Carolyn – checking in

    MaryGaye what a lovely story and having so much fun as well – thank you for sharing

    Warmly
    Geerteke

    • 6.1
      MaryGaye says:

      Geerteke, thank you for your kind words. I’ve enjoyed reading your posts about your journey with the WHR and your horses. I hope you are still healing well and doing better every day!

  17. 5
    Jan says:

    MaryGaye, how extraordinarily inventive and creative of you!! Lucky Cowboy to have you in his life to make such a stimulating game for him. Well done you!

    Jan in Aistralia

    • 5.1
      MaryGaye says:

      Thank you Jan! I really appreciate your comments. Carolyn is amazing in her ability to really get us to see that “working” with our horses should be fun! We can get more done with our horses by playing and having fun than we can by boring them to death with drugery!

  18. 4

    Thank you MaryGaye for sharing. Checking in with you Carolyn xx

  19. 3

    Ohh, i love this, What a great idea.

    Thanks so much MaryGaye, i will go do the game with mine horses and the children.

    Thanks for sharing this beautifull lesson.

    Lots of love Monique

    • 3.1
      MaryGaye says:

      Thank you Monique for your kind words! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I hope you have a lot of fun easter egg hunting! I would love to hear about your experiences with the game.

  20. 2

    What a *great* game, MaryGaye! My Paint, Dodger, sounds so much like Cowboy, I’m sure he’ll love the game! I just hope I can find Easter eggs in June/July!

    • 2.1
      MaryGaye says:

      Michelle, Thank you for your kind comments! I hope Dodger loves it as much as Cowboy. Trying to motivate those big thinking horses to move, or go some place their not sure they want to go is quite a challege. I checked, you can get plastic easter eggs on amazon.com.

  21. 1

    Wow, MaryGaye! What a fabulous idea, and what fun! I bet my Galahad would enjoy this kind of thing. Thank you for the idea!

    – Kay

    • 1.1
      MaryGaye says:

      Thank you Kay! It’s amazing how creative we can become when we are encouraged and desperate! I hope you get a chance to try it with Galahad and have a wonderful time!