I met Carolyn a few years ago. I was introduced to her by a mutual friend (thank you Barbara!) However, unlike her students, we met socially through having horses in common. In the beginning of our relationship we talked horses, but not about Carolyn’s work. We were friends for a year before Carolyn shared her Method with me. Once Carolyn and I started talking about horses more in depth regarding her method things got interesting. Anyone who knows Carolyn, knows her poignant questions. She reads people and horses like a psychic. It is an amazing skill that I see from working next to her in the classrooms as she is coaching students.
One day while we were talking about some funny new thing my horses had come up with, Carolyn asked me, very cautiously, how I felt about my relationship with my horses. I told her that I was very happy. My horses loved me, I loved them and we had great times trail riding and spending time together. It seemed like an innocent question, but I could tell I had just stepped into the “Carolyn Zone” and my life was getting ready to be changed.
I remember talking about how I had had my horses since they were born and how happy we all were as a family. Jazz, the leader, I had had since he was a yearling. Then I bred him and had my own baby I named Apollo. They have always been my family, my heart and my soul! Anyone who knows me, can feel the love and the bond we have when they are around us.
Jazz and I have grown up cutting, team pinning, roping, showing western pleasure and western equitation and I even started him in dressage. My background growing up with horses was in dressage and jumping.
Then came Carolyn's next question, “Is there anything that you would change in the relationship with your horses?”. “No”, I said. I am very happy and everything is great. One thing you will learn about Carolyn is that she coaches from behind too.
I then decided to become a student and learn the Waterhole Rituals. I saw the magic in the relationship she had with her own horses and I saw horses come into her training facility, wild or untrained, and leave perfect angels who loved people and loved training.
I was one of those people who just couldn’t sit still and figure out how to find “neutral” or how to “pause”. Then when I found neutral, I didn’t want to leave. It was so enjoyable to share territory with my horses, watching them, cuddling with them, watching the clouds, listening to the birds and smelling the roses. I couldn’t get enough. I used to joke with Carolyn that I would be the only student that would take several years just “Sharing Territory.” She just laughed and in her words of wisdom she said...
”Just do what makes you happy”.
As I said, I was quite happy with the relationship I had with my horses, but a funny thing was happening as I started working with the “Waterhole Rituals.” I was seeing more in my horses, I was feeling more joy, I was seeing changes I didn’t even begin to understand.
With Carolyn’s help, she started teaching me how to communicate with horses using her Rituals and a new world has opened up. I was learning how to talk to my horses in their own language. I trusted Carolyn because of all of the territory we had shared together and I did exactly what she told me too, without question, and I found a new vista opening up as I watched how my horses reacted.
I couldn’t believe it. I can’t express the exact words of how magical and amazing my world became with my “boys”. And this was just from “Sharing Territory” for a long time. Promising even more joy, Carolyn finally got me out of my chair and I added the other Rituals like “Eye Contact”, “Leading from Behind”, and “Taking Territory” and things started changing again. My horses have gone from looking at me as their best friend and 'carrot dispenser' to counting me as part of their herd and actually now as their chosen leader. By activating their gas pedals, I’ve learned that it was a statement to them that I would like to lead. From there my horses could then choose my leadership or not. Because the bond was strong and horses have a natural desire to look for leadership, it all went forward to the magic and the joy Carolyn promised.
There is so much more I can learn and I’m going to be doing just that. At this point I couldn’t miss the ride!
In hindsight I find it very interesting that if I had to tell someone which Ritual or exercise made the biggest difference in my relationship with my horses, I would have to say it was the exercise on how to activate the gas pedal. All the rituals and exercises had their importance but this one changed how the boys looked at me and opened the door to our growth as a true herd family.
So many times I hear and see people afraid to activate the gas pedal on their horse because they are afraid that they will hurt the loving bond they already have with their horse. I understand, as I was someone who didn’t want to hurt my horses’ feelings out of my love and nurturing for them. Think of it as giving him his freedom.
It’s a normal process that moves from simply feeding and keeping them safe as babies, to teaching them how to be socially acceptable; and finally to just taking a leadership role by being available when they need us. We do it with our human family, why not with our horse family? If we want them to see us as family, we should see and treat them as family.
I am not ashamed to say it hurt me at first. After I sent Jazz away, and really meant it, he was upset. Originally I thought it was because his feelings were hurt. That’s because I was projecting my human emotions into his actions without remembering he is a horse and he thinks differently. Jazz was temporarily upset and I was too. However, I was upset because I felt as if I was now challenging him for the leadership role. What I was doing, according to Carolyn, was what lead horses do to create order in the herd. What she said was that my horses would understand, even if they appeared to be upset. And guess what, they did!
Jazz was the leader of our herd and had taken on the role of a leader. Now he was seeing a friend, with what I now know was a low rank in “his” herd, requesting to take on the leadership role. He really had to think about this and make sure that I was ready to be a leader and see if I would make a good leader. After a few more times, he realized that not only did I know what I was doing, but I had finally learned how to speak his language and he trusted me to be a good leader. At that point the bond grew even tighter. The willingness of Jazz was a bit surprising and the turn around was quick. No running him around in a round pen, no sweating his body and it only took 5 seconds to ask him to go. As soon as he left we reconnected in a bond that was instantly deeper.
He was thrilled and happy to bow out as leader and allow me to take his place and follow my leadership. I had to take on the new responsibility as a genuine leader of the herd. It was no longer just an illusion in my mind but it was real to the entire herd. I now had to protect my herd, make sure they were good to each other, shared their food with each other, make sure there was peace in the herd and continually keep my 5 heart felt strings of connection going. This is a blessing! I look forward to keeping my herd happy and social.
Because I can’t properly express the amazing results and happiness that my herd and I now share, I have a few videos to see if you can see the difference.
The best part is that we are only half way there. I think I’m going to enjoy Middle School as much as I enjoyed Kindergarten and I’m sure that my advancement will happen organically, step by step.
We are still growing and learning together and the magic will just keep getting better and better. It’s like a rose; we started with just a bud, learning the Carolyn Resnick Method as a whole. Now it is half way open and more of the rose petals are showing and I have choices I need to make with my horses to keep them happy and the new relationship growing. I have exercises and games to choose from every time I am with my boys and a responsibility to keep those 5 heart felt strings of connection growing to enrich their lives and mine. I can only imagine what the rose will look like as it grows and blossoms - absolutely beautiful!
So when you are looking at your horse and trying to figure out why you need to send your horse away, realize that it is the best thing you could ever do to start that amazing journey and watch your rose bloom. As Carolyn says, “returning a horse to his freedom by activating his gas pedal is not only liberating to your horse, but also to you”. Your horse will love you for it even more than he does now. Can you imagine?
Thank you Carolyn for the lovely journey.
From the practice of the Rituals and working on relationships with horses your horsemanship can’t help but to grow. You are employing the language of horsemanship and the language of the bond at the same time, creating the ultimate dance of harmony through relationship. If you would like to take your understanding of the Waterhole Rituals to the next level join us in California at the end of May 2013 for a 5 day clinic! Learn more and signup here >
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