Hello again. First let me start off by thanking you all for the wonderful comments and stories you write after each of my blog posts, it's brings me great pleasure to hear you are getting on so well with my Method. However, as the popularity of the blog grows, I'm starting to hit a bit of a hurdle. As regular readers will know, I don't find it particularly easy to read and write and this is especially true when there are long passages without paragraphs. So what I would like to suggest is that we try to keep each comment to 1 or 2 short paragraphs of no more than a couple of sentences each (like Marja did last Thursday on Comment #7) or better still like Stephanie did with Comment #13).
If I need more detail from you, I can then ask you for it. I trust you understand and appreciate your help.
Right on to today's blog...
Working with a horse at liberty, you must wait for him to give you his full attention and interest in bonding, because if you try to make the horse do what you want, he will run off.
Why, then, would you choose to work with a horse at liberty in a free open environment when you could control him with fences or tack? Because, by working at liberty, you will bring out in the horse a willingness and intelligence that tack would actually block.
One of the rules of my method is that you must allow the horse to choose to refuse your leadership.
What is the benefit in letting a horse refuse a request? If you do not point out to the horse his refusals, he will respond more positively to your suggestions the next time you ask.
Why do you want to avoid drilling a horse? Drilling causes a horse to need more drilling, and a constant need to keep drilling to keep the horse working the way you want him to.
When is using allowance better than using force? When you are asking the horse to do something for you.
When is holding a horse to task better than allowing his behavior? When you are building your horse’s character. This takes place in social interactions and when he is being anti-social or not respectful of your boundaries, or when you need to shape his behavior around food.
How does Sharing Territory to develop a close friendship at liberty enhance the training and performance of your horse? The program that exists in Sharing Territory brings out in a horse a natural desire to follow your lead and learn new behaviors.
When would you allow your horse to lead you? Whenever it would improve the relationship and performance. Like in the Ritual of Eye Contact –where the horse controls the hay and your movements around him; or when Liberty Dancing with your horse in a performance. You allow the horse to lead you when give and take enhances the performance of you both.
When is it beneficial to make your horse do something he doesn’t want to do? When your horse is willing to stay with you despite the fact that you do not allow his behavior in regards to social conduct that you require. You can clearly see this happening when he does not want to leave the food or your space when you ask him to.
My method is built on rules that if a horse leaves you, you stop your lesson and leave in the opposite direction. If the bond has been previously developed through Sharing Territory, the horse will want to return from the space that you’ve given him.
With my method, boundaries are flexible for a reason. It helps you in the training of your horse by giving you the ability to develop his desire to fit in harmony with you.
All of these decisions, when to lead and when to allow, when to pause, when to push, and when to pat, I leave in the hands of my students. We all have this gift within ourselves, if we practice communicating in the context of complete freedom of choice. It is where the true art of communication is found.
Obviously, freedom of choice is always what we would choose for ourselves, but then, why would we not choose it for others? Of course, there are times when we want to be held accountable, like when we don’t consider other people’s feelings and rights to their personal space. None of us want to be bullies, or have a horse that is a bully. Freedom of choice stops our bullying of our horses, and then, holding a horse accountable for social politeness helps the partnership. This brings out in the horse a desire to learn and perform the things it is in his nature to do.
How could we control a horse without being controlling or manipulating the horse into thinking he has no choice but to do what he is told? This is the big question that few people will have answers to unless they enter the realm of Liberty Training. Working with my method will reveal all these answers as your skill increases from the evolution of your practice.
You will learn how to set up a horse to perform so that control is unnecessary while he is performing. Working with a horse a liberty with my method, you will tap into his herding instincts to match your movements and take direction. You are working with an automatic response, natural to all social creatures, even humans.
It would be interesting if you would share your stories of how my method has developed your decision in how you approach your horses in your communication and training, and how the freedom and allowance you have given to your horses have changed them to be more willing and have a greater capacity to understand your communication. I would also like for you to discuss how the bond has deepened from the Sharing Territory ritual.