I have a new horse and human sighting today. I was coming home from grocery shopping from our local health food store, and as I was driving along the edge of my property, I was taking notice to see if Elizabeth was still with her horse in the round ring. The round ring is quite wonderful this time of year. Since I do not use it much, it was full of weeds that are tasty to the horses and Elizabeth thought it would be a good thing to let him eat and give him some exercise too.
What a Surprise! I was surprised to see that RajaliKA, Elizabeth’s stallion, was lying down in the middle of the day in the round ring. Elizabeth was crouched down right in front of him. She was looking directly at her horse about two feet from his head. Her horse was looking at her with a relaxed gaze. It appeared that they had been there a long time completely engrossed with each other. I stopped my car and watched them for some time. Elizabeth had been working on getting her horse to stay down for a carrot when he went down to the ground to roll. She had been able to get only one carrot into his mouth before he got up, never two carrots until this day. Today, RajaliKA decided to take it to another level all on his own.
A Hallmark Moment I thought this was more than remarkable because Elizabeth seldom takes RajaliKA to the round ring. Since this was unfamiliar territory to him, and there were so many good things to eat, it surprised me that he would give up the grass and change the subject to lying down- and staying down along with letting Elizabeth so close to him when he was down. It was a hallmark moment. They kept looking into each other’s eyes. They reminded me of salt and pepper shakers. I wish I had my camera. I drove into the ranch, and walked down to the round ring and watched from a close vantage point, and they were still looking at each other in this new way. They were gazing into each other’s eyes like they have never done before.
It’s Simple Really… I was so proud and delighted! All I needed to do was say a few words about lying down, and then Elizabeth trained her horse on her own. For centuries, people have taught their horses to lie down by using ropes in forceful ways, and the horse was taught to lie down by an experienced trainer. I am teaching students to get their horses to lie down at liberty by simply feeding the horse when the horse goes to roll, and not feeding any more when he gets up. When the horse gets the idea, the next think you need to do is to scratch the ground and say “Lie down.” Such a simple thing to do!
Elizabeth can feel proud and take all the credit for training her horse because she taught RajaliKA how to lie down on her own without any coaching from me other than to say, “Teaching a horse to lie down is easy. When your horse lies down, put a carrot into their mouth, and as long as they are down, keep feeding carrots and stop feeding them as soon as the horse gets back up.” What takes place later will naturally evolve into the horse learning to sit up and then into being able to sit on your horse’s back like Lori and Alger are able to do.
Up untill today, Elizabeth had only been able to get one carrot in her horse’s mouth. When I found them, she had run out of treats and they we sharing the moment together in a complete state of bliss that few horses and humans get to experience, and they both seemed to be quite aware of how special that moment was. RajaliKA no longer wanted carrots, he was into the moment and into Elizabeth.
The time that they were down was about 15 minutes in my judgment. I think that RajaliKA and Elizabeth would not really know how long they were there looking into each other’s eyes because time for them had stood still.
In all of the years Elizabeth has known RajaliKA, she has never seen him lay down in front of a human, or for that matter roll. And for RajaliKA to respond to take up laying down in front of people is extremely unusual for him.
Observing the Evolution For me, where I think the big step into this evolution of the connection that they had came from a couple of days earlier when Elizabeth, RajaliKA and myself were Sharing Territory together. I saw Elisabeth Sharing Territory with RajaliKA in a much more intimate way. In the past, because of RajaliKA being a stallion, when Elizabeth would be close to him, he would tease her with constant threats of nipping. Elizabeth would keep a safe distance, and at that distance, they had a good relationship. But on this day, Elizabeth braved it out, relaxed, and put her arm on the edge of the fence. When RajaliKA came up close, Elizabeth kept in a relaxed posture and did not move back when he came up to her, even when he put his nose so close to her arm that his whiskers were touching her. On this day, he did not try to nip, they just shared that time together in a way I had never seen them do in the past. I think that moment had a deep effect on the evolution of the next phase of their relationship together. And then the lay down happened.
The Power of Breath I can’t say enough about the story told about how American Indians gained the trust and the spirit of the horse by breathing into the horse’s nostrils. As a result, many people took this information and began throwing wild horses to the ground and breathing into their nostril. How unfortunate for the horse and for the human that mists out of the magic of life, nature and the adventure of allowing the connection to evolve. If you share a really close connection to a horse’s nose and you are both enjoying it, it takes the relationship to a deep level of connection that everybody is trying to gain with a horse by force. I have taken this very seriously through sharing intimate interactions with horses to create a partnership and bond. Having this kind of connection makes horse training simple and enjoyable.
I have developed a whole training series around intimate interactions at liberty with a horse that I call the Intimate Bucket Game™ that is part of my first Waterhole Ritual, Sharing Territory. We will be covering this exercise in the up and coming Insider Circle and Extended Circle program that will be starting in late April. Hope to see you there!
Soon I will be sharing some photos of me and Panadero lying down- having fun in the sun! For right now, I have a photo of Lori Brown Smith and Alger demonstrating how to take relaxation to the next level!
May the Horse Be with You!