For those of us who were blessed at birth with a natural affinity for horses, or who as children developed a fantasy surrounding these amazing creatures after reading King of the Wind, Black Beauty, Fury or watching The Black Stallion, we developed a magical relationship with them based on communication, trust and understanding. However, as we matured, perhaps that relationship and the training have somehow become more pragmatic, more cut and dried. Has the magic of horses and horsemanship somehow disappeared?
Yet what if we could recapture those youthful dreams of a close personal bond with our horse, while at the same time facilitating and enhancing our training program? What if training could be more than simply a human's will imposed on the horse and become instead a mutually shared partnership between horse and owner, based on a system of communication both could understand equally?
What if the horse could have a real voice and truly participate actively in his training, working with the owner to achieve success, without coercion or forceful means? ... And what if, in the process, the training time was dramatically reduced while results were significantly amplified? What I’m talking about of course is liberty training and more specifically the Waterhole Rituals.
You see, the general perception of liberty training is a system which applies pressure to the horse in a confined area, through aggressive pursuit with snapping whips and manipulation along a fence line or in a bullpen. This is not what I’m talking about and I think it’s beholden on each of us to go out and spread the word* of a different way of training that relies on the innate instincts of the horse and his basic desire to communicate in a herd environment.
Horses in the wild have a large extended family, the herd, while in captivity they are more frequently isolated from one another and stalled for human convenience. This separation is in direct conflict with the most basic instincts and needs of the horse, which is why the Waterhole Rituals have such rapid and dramatic results. For thousands of years, the very survival of horses has been linked to their interrelationship in the herd, with a clearly established pecking order. They feel a responsibility and a security in the herd, structured by a hierarchy topped by the lead brood mare.
All horses in a herd are responsible to the lead mare, whose function in the herd is to caretake and provide order and discipline. She is to be vigilant and alert for any danger, and must, if called upon, relocate the group. As such, all individuals in the herd have a duty to keep an eye on her. During the course of a day, the lead mare will formally elicit eye contact from the various members of her group. Should any horse fail to acknowledge her, she may kick him, run him off his spot, chase him or even outright banish him from the herd until proper respect is learned.
When you understand this and can communication it, you may convince the horse that you are a viable substitute for the missing aspects of a herd in his life and may gain the attention and respect of the horse by functioning in the following recognizable capacities: lead mare, mother, father, sister, brother and friend.
Rather than forcing specific behavior from the horse, my Method focuses on the horse's language, which is spoken through movement, not sound; through eye contact and touch. It is a ballet of shared energies, which forge a truly harmonious working relationship between horse and rider akin to dancing, where body language and compatible movement create a strong bond.
People sometimes tell me they struggle to express the words to describe the Waterhole Rituals and my work, so I hope the above helps.
Thank you for your ongoing support and contribution to our community here. Enjoy your weekend
* Hi - this is Mark! You can help spread Carolyn's priceless message in some of the following ways:
- By clicking on the ShareThis button below (click here to find out more about this)
- By posting on any horse forums you belong to with a link back to the blog
- By just telling your friends!
Thank you and you can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.