Training Horses at Liberty – Taking Territory to gain Respect

Here is what several students have asked me to write a blog about: Taking Territory – the 3rd Ritual of the Waterhole Rituals:

Taking Territory creates respect and raises your position in the pecking order. You can gain the right of passage to be accepted in the horse world as a leader. Taking Territory is not about chasing a horse around; it is about Taking Territory away from a horse.

All animals in nature experience the loss of territory in social interactions and it is what builds their character and social behavior to fit in and be responsible in the community. You can Take Territory easily with a horse by surprising him in order to initiate his flight response.  However, you can only do this if the horse is not looking at you and not paying any attention to you.

The Proper Guidance:

Taking Territory Ritual is a ritual which is seldom used without my guidance and that is a good thing. In most cases it would not be applied properly, in the way it needs to be applied, without proper coaching. You do not need it at all in order to train a horse with my method, though it does have its place in the right hands.

When Taking Territory the horse is never touched, but only encouraged to move forward by being surprised. This causes the horse to take off by responding to his flight instincts. The horse is only scared for a second and when he finds out it is you and your purpose was to Take Territory, he is instantly relieved and wants to join you showing no fear at all, along with having a new healthy respect for you!

Guiding Body Language

Guiding Body Language

Why you would not want to use this Ritual with out My guidance:

My Dad told me that whenever force comes into the picture with a horse, you better know what you are doing. My father left me alone with horses as a small child so he had to feel comfortable about my safety. The rules he laid down in order for me to stay safe with my horses was to only work with a willing horse and never try to force him to do anything. My Dad felt that as long as there was no tack involved, and that I never asked a horse to do something he wasn’t willing to do, chances were that I would be safe. Wouldn’t it be nice if more horsemen took this approach?

Taking Territory is one of those things where you need to know what you are doing.

Something to consider:

Taking Territory by surprise activates the flight instinct of the horse! Allot of my students and readers may object to this ritual, but the good news is that this ritual in no way needs to be used to get a perfect relationship going with most horses when using the Waterhole Rituals. However, there is true magic in this ritual for some horses. If done properly, this Ritual will return the free spirit of the horse. It also will bring out his herding instincts to want to connect with you. Many people have brought horses to me so that I could use this Ritual on their horse in order to bring back the horse’s spirit, willingness and innate personality.

Self-Serving Bully Nature vs. Care Taking Nature:

Taking Territory from the horse brings back his natural instincts and he learns to have a care taking nature rather than a self serving bully nature, in regards to you. A bully nature is a natural behavior to most all creatures on earth including humans, until they learn social adjustments and consider the feelings of other living beings. When this happens their behavior and character are developed. Most children are bully’s by nature until they are properly guided in social awareness and sensitivity, which in turn will bring out proper conduct without having to manage it.

A surprising thing is that a sweet horse can also be a bully. Sometimes we overlook this. The way this happens is that the good natured horse becomes the center of attention and he learns how to take control, not paying any attention in how he needs to fit in with others. It isn’t the sweet horse’s fault. What happens is that the sweet horse didn’t have to make any social adjustments, so therefore he is socially inept and will push people around until he is developed socially.

Each horse is different in how you approach gaining respect when you need it. Some horses you cannot use this ritual with because they are aware of where you are at all times. So these horses need to be handled differently.

The Appropriate Approach:

When the timing and approach for Taking Territory are done appropriately your horse will respect you and want to follow your lead with a shocking positive result. If this does not happen right away, your timing and approach is off and you need to stop this pursuit. Taking Territory isn’t something that you drill.  The result of experiencing Taking Territory, in my Method, is a deeper connection and willingness that is fast and immediate. The quick results only take about two or three attempts and than your horse will want to be completely in your pocket and he will begin to try to win your favor. He will be all about you, though there might be times that you will need to reestablish your position with this Ritual. The reason for this is that leadership in animals fluctuates and the pecking order does too. Your position is not set in stone.

Here are some reasons why you do not want to do this ritual without the proper guidance:

1. It could break the bond you already have for good if done incorrectly.

2. Your horse might become too upset from not being approached in a timely manner and that would cause you to receive no benefit.

3. Your horse might take offense to you asking and become aggressive.

4. You might not be ready for, or capable of, carrying out the Ritual in the proper manner.

5. You could run up to your horse too closely and your horse could charge backwards and kick you.

Working Horses at Liberty:

While working horses at Liberty, a horse has a sense of personal power and he can be much harder to deal with because of the freedom you have given him. A horse learns right away that he is in charge of the decisions of whether or not he will listen to your direction. Working with a horse at Liberty in a free playing field, the human must use prudence in order to develop the relationship further rather than keeping a horse on a rope.

Having a rope on a horse, the horse has the mind set that he cannot get away and that he must tolerate his handler. While working and connecting with a horse using tack, a person doesn’t know who their horse really is until you give him his freedom to speak the truth. Without a rope you know exactly what your horse is thinking… The horse knows that he is in charge of your leadership.

In this freedom you connect with your horse by being in control of your personal space and by not letting your horse too close to you if he will not listen to you or he is aggressive. You also are in charge of the extra food sources. In no way do you keep him from his daily rations. My method is to shape a horse to be a care taker as your horse shapes you to be a care taking leader. From the freedom you experience with your horse true harmony is born.

Without the Freedom:

When horses are raised and trained by man what happens is that horse becomes dull. The horse learns to stay close to their handler from the tack that holds them to their handler. They then lose their natural instincts and will. The horse’s spirit generally drops away. You can recognize this in a horse’s performance under saddle if the spirit and enthusiasm are not seen; when the sparkle in the eye is gone.

Many times I hear people say “my horse loves me because he doesn’t want to leave me”, I suggest something else is array. If you think you have a bond ask yourself, how much time do you spend with your horse? Does your horse prefer other horses company over yours? Maybe your horse is hanging around you because of the cookies you have in your pocket? We want those cookies to be added bonuses not to become the whole reason. If your horse will perform with complete enthusiasm without cookies or tack… this is the bond I want you to have.

The True Nature:

From your interaction of Sharing Territory, Taking Territory, the pause, and from the flexible boundaries you share together in freedom, you become more giving or more assertive and your horse blooms into his true nature and spirit. Then a partnership forms and a loyalty arises. You and your horse look at life optimistically because of the connection you have with one another.

Photo by Teddie ZieglerI am so proud that I have affected people all over the world to get people interested in giving freedom to their horses and to take the time to make a real connection with them. You know you have that real connection when you discover that in no way could you ever sell your horse. If you are planning on selling your horse in the future, you approach your horse differently than someone who is going to keep their horse forever. The plan that you are going to sell your horse puts a wedge in the relationship because of your vibrations.

My Online Classes:

What I’ve shared with you I hope causes you to take the next step to join my online course this fall. Our classes fill up quickly, so early registration is important. You can register now for upcoming classes.

<<Fall 2014 Waterhole Rituals>>

Enjoy these videos and let them inspire you to the possibility’s of what a true connection with your horse can be!

From – Sibylle Stopka
”I would like to share these videos with you, because this site and the blog of Carolyn Resnick gave me the strength to do what I was always dreaming of. Keep my horse as free and naked as possible. In your ideas I found myself at home and I started to realize my dream. I have never forced my horse to anything, the bound grew so much that we can walk freely and play together. I just enjoy watching his happiness and joyfulness while playing together.

Thank You very much for giving access to your work through your wonderful blog and facebook page.
 Thank you again Carolyn, what you do is just wonderful!”

Thank you Sibylle for sharing these YouTube’s with me.  Your relationship in a free open environment is inspirational.

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





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Fran Wilsak, Illnois, IC, Freedom - a couple of years ago Reply

Hi Carolyn,

This post about taking territory was especially timely for me.

A friend visited for the weekend, and brought her horse, Moon. He and Freedom are old friends, but we board at different barns now. They always pick up their close bond when spending time together. I did ST in the morning with both horses in the same paddock. Moon was resting standing up and Freedom was lying close by. I sat in my chair for about 10 minutes, then started wandering around the paddock, making my way slowly in their direction. As I got near, I stopped and gazed over the fence for a few minutes and then greeted them in turn. I sat down next to Freedom. He never moved, and I was thrilled. It was so hard not to reach over and rub on him, but I didn’t want to spoil the moment if it should cause him to want to leave. At one point he bowed his head, and brushed his muzzle in the grass. I thought he might lie down flat so I moved away a bit, but when he didn’t move, I moved back closer. He stayed resting for about 10 more minutes and I sat for another few and then got up and gradually wandered out of the paddock.

Later that day, I tried to do the Intimacy bucket with both in turns, but when I asked them to step back, they would leave and not return, choosing to graze instead – darn Spring grass! So I brought Freedom to a close paddock to do some homework. As soon as we left, Moon started calling to Freedom. Freedom did not call back, but as soon as I let him off the lead at the far end of the paddock (opposite where Moon’s paddock was), Freedom tore off to be near Moon. I wandered the paddock, looking for those stray bits of trash that invariably turn up in the soil of an old farm. I decided it might be a good time to try to take territory as Freedom had no interest in me. As I approached behind him, he paid me no mind. As luck would have it, Moon called out and Freedom answered him. Right in the middle of his call, I rushed in and chased him off his spot. He looked like a rocket as he raced away to the far end of the paddock. He stayed away about a minute, while I ignored him and hung around on his spot. I heard thundering hooves behind me and turned to see him coming toward me. He stopped very near me with an expectant look. I’m not sure who was more surprised, him or me. I said hello, and then continued on my quest for trash. He began to ignore me again, and found a patch of grass and settled in. Again, I surprised him and he went racing away. He didn’t come back to me this time right away, but as I moseyed back and forth, he came to greet me several times when I got close to where he was. After the third time of taking territory, he was stuck to me like glue, following me all around the paddock. I was gob-smacked! This has never happened like this before. We have done some companion walking, but he always seemed to be lagging behind. This time he floated beside me, keeping my exact pace. I only wish I had the camera going.

Thank you for sharing your methods, Carolyn. There has been a piece missing in my relationship with Freedom. I’ve loved him for 10 years, and wish that I had found your methods sooner. I can’t wait to see how far we can take this. The videos you share here are an inspiration to try.

    Carolyn Resnick
    Carolyn Resnick - a couple of years ago Reply

    Dear Fran,

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful story of how the third Ritual, Taking Territory, was able to help your leadership position and your relationship with Freedom.

    When done properly, this Ritual will work wonders and only needs to be done a few times for you to see the magic.

    I would have loved to have seen that on video.

    Talk to you soon in the online class.

    Warmly, Carolyn

JayneForster - a couple of years ago Reply

Dear Carolyn,
Brilliant as ever and totally summing up what your method is about,for me,being that care taking leader that my horses choose to be with. Its such an honour when I walk into the barn and all eyes are on me,not always at feeding time!,when I call them and they all come up from the field. My life is richer for having this and I thank you.
You may remember my passion for dressage and academic riding,I recently started reading Bent Branderups book now in english,he states many teaching from the old masters of riding,but one seemed to come straight from you,”you should always be aware wether your horse is intrested in spending time with you” Thanks to you mine do want to now and vice versa.
Love Jayne and Noo noo.

    Carolyn Resnick
    Carolyn Resnick - a couple of years ago Reply

    Dear Jayne,

    Give my love to Noo Noo. I am so glad you and your herd have become such a great team and are so close and that I could be a part of this with the Waterhole Rituals.

    Good to hear that you are following your passion for dressage as well.

    Warmly, Carolyn

JoyNichols - a couple of years ago Reply

Loved the post! I have spent a couple hours today sharing terretory and got a kick out of how gently my herd of 6 took each others haypiles. They run backwards and lay ears back and chase each other violently when it is time for feed though. I sat in a chair reading and had 7 haypiles out. I sat by the boss mares haypile and she looked lovingly at me. That was so nice it made me feel so welcome to sit with them while they ate hay. They all just seemed to radiate happiness. Two of them were curious about the tea I was drinking so I allowed sniffing my teacup. Everyone was mellow and gentle and they just seemed to flow around as they switched haypiles. Would not have tried to share territory with all 6 at once unless they were all calmi

ColetteDeschenes - a couple of years ago Reply

Hello! Hope you are well 🙂
Sharing territory as I am writing 🙂
Loved the extra explanations about reciprocal movements last week and this weeks blog!
And the videos! Especially that of the horses enjoying blowing bubbles and the one with the bicycle: what a great idea to be able to play at a little higher speed and keep up more!
Awesome, thanks again!
Take care,

    Carolyn Resnick
    Carolyn Resnick - a couple of years ago Reply

    Dear Colette,

    Thank you for checking in and I’m glad to hear how much you are enjoying the blogs. Give your horse a hug from me while you are Sharing Territory next time.

    Warmly, Carolyn

VivianLaramee-Berthelette - a couple of years ago Reply

My God…..
Thank you so so much for the videos….
I have no words….
Im so happy to know one day me and my horses will be friends like that and that i can be so cumfy around them!
Love in my heart. Heart dancing

    Carolyn Resnick
    Carolyn Resnick - a couple of years ago Reply

    Dear Viviane,

    You and Lever are already having so much fun in the online class and I can’t wait to watch the two of you progress into a deeper, closer friendship and dance together.

    Warmly, Carolyn

LaurinParker - a couple of years ago Reply

This is a TERRIFIC article, and so clearly explains the benefit of taking territory. …and you are right, if done well, taking territory really does bring you closer to your horse and establish a closer bond. Thank you for this invaluable information which I make use of every day with my horse. Waterhole rituals have given me a relationship with my horse that I could have only dreamed about as a child.

Bu the way the videos of the girl and her horse (complete with bicycle and donkey) were really inspiring and really show the best of what one can hope for by embracing Carolyn’s philosopy and practice of the waterhole rituals.

    Carolyn Resnick
    Carolyn Resnick - a couple of years ago Reply

    Dear Lauri,

    Thank you for being a continued part of my online classes and for using my Waterhole Rituals daily with your lovely horse Dutchy.

    You both have such a wonderful relationship. It is beautiful to see.

    Warmly, Carolyn

StephanieMorse - a couple of years ago Reply

checking in

I enjoyed reading in Naked Liberty where you surprised the 2 low-ranking wild horses and move up in the hierarchy.

    Carolyn Resnick
    Carolyn Resnick - a couple of years ago Reply

    Thank you Stephanie for checking in and I’m so glad you are enjoying my book. It’s magic when you see it unfold in the wild.

    Warmly, Carolyn

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