Reciprocal Leadership between Horse and Human

Hello. With the Waterhole Rituals Classes underway and the participants already beginning to experience the benefit of it, I wanted to talk about the possibilities there are with the first Waterhole Ritual. At the moment, those who are in the 'Insider Circle and 'In a Box' Programs are working on their first assignment, which is to Share Territory with their horse, read books or write in a journal and focus on becoming connected in the moment. When you do this and when your vibration starts to match the environment in the moment, things really start to occur between you and your horse. As Sharing Territory deepens and starts to feels like a ritual for you and your horse, new things can begin to take place such as spontaneous outbursts of interaction. This is just what happened at the ranch here last night. I have a new apprentice whose name is Lila Harding and we are very happy to be working together. Anyway, Lila brought her horse, Sebastian, a 12 year old Percheron Thoroughbred gelding, to go through my Method and learn bridleless riding. She has been Sharing Territory with her horse and we are into the second week together.

So last night while Sharing Territory with Sebastian, things occurred which I thought could be very valuable and informative to everyone following my blog and in the classes.

This is what happened to Lila. As she was spending time with her horse, a light bulb went on and she decided to interest Sebastian in a game. Sebastian, who in himself is both dominant and lighthearted was feeling playful and knocked over two barrels in the area they were using. Lila got the idea that maybe they could play with the barrels and learn to roll them across the arena on command because Sebastian likes to play with things. Now this is where the road of departure happens in relating to horses and is what I hope everyone grasps from my influence and the Waterhole Rituals.

Sebastian got the big idea that he did not want to roll the barrel but offered up another behavior instead. He thought it was a good idea to pick up the barrel that he had knocked down earlier and stand it right side up again. This is where a critical choice can be made by the trainer on what to do next. Does she stay focused on what she wanted, put the barrel back on its side and ask for him to roll it, or does she understand that a magical thing is starting to take place? If you want to stay in that world, you start going along with him… and so a new game began. Sebastian, understanding that he had just taken over the dance, became very enthusiastic and then changed and the subject once again. He looked off into the distance with concern. Once you get to know horses and their behavior, you'll begin to understand messages like this mean and Lila fell right in along with him as she gets it. So she joined in this new game of looking with him. But Sebastian had bigger plans. What he was doing was preparing Lila for their next adventure, which was taking flight and matching each others movements whilst they ran here and there together.

How it started was, Lila thought there was something that Sebastian was worried about that was distracting his attention from the barrel game, so she went with him to investigate what it was. Sebastian thought, good, she is playing right along. And that’s when the dance began.

This is a very tricky place, knowing just how to handle these spontaneous dances of connection because we need to be judicious and not create a monster through encouraging spontaneous interactions that allow the horse to constantly pull focus and dominate your time together. What happened next will illustrate what I mean.

After they investigated the area of concern at the other side of the arena, Lila took her leadership position back, marshalling all of the connection, willingness and partnership they had created together and asked Sebastian to trot quickly back by her side to the barrel spot. She asked him to assume his same position and she asked again for him to tip the barrel ride side up. He paused for a moment and looked at her as if to say I am not going to do this. She maintained a powerful focus and asked again, he looked in the direction of the grain, licking his lips and paused again. Lila, said “OK I guess you don’t want to play any more” and made an about face turning to leave, heading away from their location. Before she could get two feet, Sebastian tipped the barrel right side up. You see, Lila did give into him, which put Sebastian back to work which was a very valuable learning experience for both of them.

So, during this first two weeks as you are sitting with your horse in the first Ritual, bit by bit it will become natural to know how to create the connective dance as Lila did, rather than creating a horse to become arrogant and pushy. But you guys don’t have to worry about that right now. You will acquire this ability if you remember to take the first two weeks of sitting and reading your book and really paying attention to the environmental changes that happen within you and within your horse.

Have fun together and we'll speak next week.

Carolyn