When I was growing up, I couldn’t wait for my two horsemanship magazines each month. One was called Western Horseman and the other was called Horse Lovers. They cost 36 cents a copy and they held free lessons in them and free things to send away for. With my horses and these magazines, my days were filled with things I could do and ways I could train. Over time, my skill grew with horses. The horses helped me along in their training because of the connection in friendship that we shared. They made me look like I knew what I was doing even when I did not. It was like a Dr. Dolittle adventure. The reason for this is that I focused on how to get the horse to help me from my lack of experience in training horses. From the bond I had developed with my horses, we had a desire to do things together and my horses would try to figure out how to support me on our adventures in our ever-deepening cross-species bond. Not only have I been able to help you to develop a cross-species bond with your horse through this site, but also my blog is bringing people together to enjoy a new journey with horses where the connection is gained and the dance of perfection is found in the ability to lead in a spontaneous collaborative way. With my guidance, I want your team working skills with horses to grow from your practice of leadership. Through the In the Box Program, we will be taking a journey together into the mind and heart of the horses You will learn the intricate details in how to shape the social behavior of horses to fit in the world of humans through the daily bonding rituals horses use to create loyalty, responsibility, and desire to work together as a team for the well being of the herd.
I want to note that it is common practice and most people feel if you ask a horse to do something that you need to follow through and stick-to-it until the horse complies, the thinking here seems to be, that quitting without following through will cause a problem that the horse will learn how to refuse your direction if you did not carry it through in getting what you want. However, this is not the focus of my method. In my method the horse will naturally want to follow your lead if the horse is allowed to respond the way he chooses. When a horse is allowed to make his own decisions from your leadership at liberty it causes a horse to enjoy the challenges you set up for him and seek to want to please you.
It will take longer for your horse to want to follow your lead if he has been forced than if you allowed him to refuse your leadership without an incident. The trick is not completely letting him have his way but still give him freedom to fit in when he chooses to. Meaning, if you do not point out to a horse that he did not follow your lead, your horse will be unaware that he went against you. In this approach, the horse sees that you do not take his power of choice away from him, which strengthens the bond and the willingness. Giving a horse choices and clear boundaries opens the heart and creates a place of safety and a kind of supportive leadership a horse is drawn to. When a horse sees your leadership is the cause of his well being, more and more he will not question your leadership. Learning how to use my method, both the horse and human change roles as leader creating a grander dance than any enforced choreography could. Most acts I see at liberty look trained and are trained. The performance is not created for a spontaneous dance in freedom that has a sense of play and celebration. The horse knows the routine but is not truly connected and engaged with his partner. The leadership is tolerated but not desired.
The reason the horse should enjoy his performance is because of the relationship he is sharing with you.
Someone on the Uberstreichen Exercises conference call asked me a question in how we would share leadership with a horse. I immediately thought of a game children play that requires teamwork in leadership and followership that I thought I would put into writing because it was so illustrative that I would like to share with people who were not on that call.
This is how I explained a two-way connection where the horse and the human share in the leadership and follower ship dance. A game I remember playing as a child explains the rolls of leading and following equally shared. Two people join hands and lean back holding onto their partner. You take turns spinning your partner around causing you both to travel forward, not letting go of each other. It takes two to have this up-lifting connection. The centrifugal force takes over and dances both you and your partner on a magical journey into a new found freedom through the connection that you choose to maintain.
Here are some examples of switching leadership roles with your horse using the Rituals. Lets look at the leadership exchange that takes place in The Ritual- Sharing Territory that builds the bond. When you are waiting for your horse to make a connection with you…in these moments he is the leader. Then when you must take a stand on setting a boundary from his rudeness, you are the leader. Your choice to lead is driven from your need to keep the relationship fair by setting your personal boundaries with him.
In the Hello Ritual when you walk up to the horse to say, “hello” you are the leader when your horse walks way from your approach, he is the leader. When your horse allows your to say hello, you are equal allowers.
Let’s look at the Ritual- Leading from Behind to gain willness. When you are following your horse, he is the leader because he knows you are following him. Then when you ask him to speed up, you are the leader. Once you have influenced him to speed up and then go back to a passive following, your horse is again the leader. I will help you to see these rolls clearly and how to be in charge of these rolls. It is easy, fun and life-changing. The practice you do with your horse in this up coming In the Box Program will give you the ability to work with any horse that you encounter.
Understanding how horses build unity and order from the practice of the Waterhole Rituals you can have a magical connection with your horse without worry about having to make your horse perform through riding and training with tack. You will learn how to allow your horse to choose your leadership and how to build his desire to learn and perform..
The Waterhole Rituals are used to develop your relationship with your horse and to develop a horse that wants to follow your lead. The focus of the rituals is not on performance. The key is building the horse’s desire to follow your lead rather than enforcing your leadership while training your horse with tack. When your horse refuses your leadership in training, you do not force the issue. You allow him the right to say “NO.” When this happens you go back to practicing the Waterhole Rituals to restore his interest to follow your lead by increasing the heartstrings of connection and enforcing social order and respect for your leadership. Next, you go back and change the program you were doing with tack where you got a “no” to something you know your horse would like to do. As time goes on your horse will refuse you less and less and you will build an ability to know what to ask from your horse that he would be willing to do. Force is never used in riding and training of horses with tack. Instead, you work on increasing the bond and enforcing the rules in herd behavior. If you feel a need to push a horse past something, you would stop your pursuit, return him to the Waterhole Rituals, work out a better connection, and ask again for something you know he would do and stop for the day. The main thing to remember is to give your horses “no fault insurance”.
I hope this new information will spur you to join the 'In the Box' Program if you have not done so already. Please spread the word to your friends so that they can take a clinic with me at home with their horse starting on the 18th April. And for those of you wondering how to finance the Program, I will have news on Thursday of something that may help you.