Horses are all about attitude and building appreciation for one another. The interactions that take place while Sharing Territory cause the horse to grow their social cooperation and communication skills. In the process a horse learns how to be considerate of other horses while finding a place in the community. As they grow from the interactions they have with each another, harmony and unity is the outcome.
If you want to gain a deeper connection with a horse and have a horse that will perform from a willing heart, you can gain this kind of connection by shaping a horses’ character to fit in with you in the same way that they learn how to bond and fit in with each another.
I find that some people have a natural respect and connection with horses. These two qualities are most important if you are going to have a good relationship with a horse. Respect and connection is how to grow the bond. If you have respect and a connection you most often find that you have a dependable horse you can trust that trusts you as well.
If you are not one of these people, you can gain this ability by Sharing Territory with horses. From this experience you can gain these qualities that some people naturally have and it will be better because of your heart felt desire and the time it took to really get to know your horse. One of the ways I got to know horses was to study their culture, ie… social behavior and how the pecking order plays an important part in creating the harmony and unity horses share. I discovered a very important fact about horses. Dominant horses are not necessarily lead horses and when a horse becomes a lead horse he puts his dominant behavior aside to take care of the community he is in change of. Of course there are horses that are aggressive leaders, but this behavior I have come to understand, is environmentally induced and created by human influence. I also found that in my years of training horses that lead horses have different personalities than dominate horses. You can read about this in my book “Naked Liberty”.
The secret to having a natural connection with horses is understanding the rules in nature regarding personal space. This understanding causes horse training to be natural and easy. Allowing for the feelings of horses and understanding their cultural needs, rather than taking their instinct away and training them that they have no choice but to perform our bidding, is definitely a better deal for the horse and a better deal for the human from the softness it creates to one’s spirit. The secret in how to approach the training of a horse is to understand what is going on in the horses’ mind and how to not infringe on the rights of the horse and to keep the respect of your leadership in place.
If you follow the natural laws regarding personal space you can develop a bond and a natural connection where training a horse becomes a conversation between two willing partners.
How to approach a horse is most important when bringing him in from a field. We want to get rid of the word “catch”, this implies that the horse is resistant to the idea. If this is the case you need to wait the horse out until he is friendly to the idea of leaving the field and putting on a halter. This will enhance your relationship with your horse dramatically, even when you are riding him his attitude will be different. When you go up to a horse and you know that your horse would not like you to approach him, if you then turn around and leave him, you can win his trust because your horse sees you are respecting him by not entering his personal space if he did not want you to. If you bring him some food that draws him to you and you let him eat it, and then leave, and you do this every day the walls of separation will vanish like magic and you can then put a halter on him and lead him with no resistance. Always remember to keep your attention on how your horse is feeling about your approach and then approach him in a way that would not create a sad feeling in the horse or a feeling of capture.
I want to write a bit more on training at Liberty when you do not have tack to support your control. At Liberty control can be gained by territory rights and the control of personal space. How to control a horse’s behavior, that shows a horse respect, is by controlling your personal space when he is in it. Mares will do that allot. When a horse approaches they will sometimes squeal and send the other horse away with dramatic body language. This behavior creates social respect and starts a relationship growing deeper. Sometimes you will get to witness two horses getting along and then one will send the other out of the area that they were sharing together. This driving body language, seldom if ever, causes a fight. If the one that is asking the other to leave chooses the right time and the horse that is being driven can agree that the area he needs to leave belongs to the other horse in the first place, everything is good.
If you can not control your personal space with a horse at Liberty it can be dangerous or become dangerous with some horses. I do not advise working with a horse at Liberty if you can not move him away from you and keep him at a distance, if you would choose to. If you can not do this the horses you are working with will have a hard time seeing you as a leader he can trust or appreciate. Controlling your personal space and respecting your horse’s personal space breaks through the curtain of separation between horses and humans.
The reason tack makes working a horse safer is that the horse would rather leave you but he cannot because of the tack he thinks is holding him. This way you are not going to experience a horse that does not respect your sending aids or crowd you. Horses at Liberty tend not to pay attention to sending aides. But the thing to remember is that horses pay attention to the sending aides of other horses. This is what we want to achieve because this is where trust, respect and loyalty are created. Being able to control your personal space develops the sending aides and helps bring you closer to the partnership you hope to attain.
When we are looking for close connections, stepping into the horses’ world and having a magical dance, one must be prepared to see a horse through the horses’ perspective. Pecking order and companionship can not be left out of the mix. What is important to understand is that I want the bond that I share with horses to be as strong as the bond shared between horses. Following their rituals has surely opened that door for me and has supported my ability to pass on to others what I know about working horses at Liberty. Training horses should not end at Liberty. If you want to gain a true partnership you need to begin at Liberty.
Have a great weekend! Be on the lookout for new horse and human sightings and may the horse be with you.