Develop a Partnership not a Well-Broke Horse

Carolyn and PanaderoI remember years ago in the early 80’s designing a brochure on Liberty Training explaining the purpose of the clinic. I went into detail on how Liberty Training developed the horse to have a desire to learn, perform and follow your lead. After reading the brochure, people actually expressed the fact that they did not care what the horse experienced as long as he was not abused.

What they wanted was obedience and submission. They felt the first thing a horse needed to learn was that a human is stronger and that the horse needed to bend to the will of his master in all circumstances.

They liked to use the phrase a ‘well broke’ horse. They felt a horse that was going to enjoy being trained would not be dependable, though they could see that my horses were more dependable than they thought a horse could be.

A well broke horse will perform what you ask but is in no way connected to you or even wants your direction. He just does it. All he is do is performing because he learned in the beginning he has no choice.

If you asked a dead broke horse to do something that he has not been taught to do he will not be able to perform because he is just a robot and will need to be trained in everything you ask out of him.

“Times they are a changing…”

DSC01768As Bob Dylan sang “Times they are a changing” and nowadays people are looking for a relationship and want to communicate with their horse rather than tell him he must perform whether he wants to or not.

Trainers are now emphasizing that partnering with a horse is the most important element in successful training. I saw on Facebook a quote from Ray Hunt; “You don’t make him learn. You set it up so he can figure it out. You have to give him that dignity. Once you start giving, you won’t believe how much you get back.” What Ray is talking about is a win-win for both horse and human and is the secret to bringing out the best of a horse in the shortest amount of time.

The foundation of Liberty Training is to produce a partnership you can depend upon rather than a well-broke horse. It is also a study of the nature of horses and how to increase your leadership potential and understanding.

Instead of showing a horse who’s boss it’s better to show him that he or she can trust your leadership and that it’s not a trap but a benefit to their well-being. Care must be taken to warm up a horse so that he feels a connection and wants to follow your lead, even when using tack.

Discover The Chair Challenge

What drove me to connect with the true nature of horse and form a partnership with them in their world was that I didn’t like a horse having to go through a training method that would cause him to give up his sense of self or thinking he had to follow human leadership no matter what.

What I wanted was to find a magical partnership with a horse from knowing how to bring out a horse’s trust and desire to be ridden rather than just creating a well broke horse. Well broke horses have had their spirit removed. They know they must do what they are told and some of them may like that kind of life but I was looking for something else.

So where and how do you start to develop a partnership?

Let’s start with a couple of easy, baby steps:

Step 1– Always start each day completely relaxed. Give your horse your full attention and put your agenda aside. Having an agenda and focusing on your horse can make him nervous. Pause a while to give your horse some time to feel safe in your presence.

Step 2 – Seek permission to approach your horse so you may put on his halter. Spend some time, 3-5 minutes, waiting for your horse to come up to you. If he doesn’t come, then try walking up to your horse. If your horse moves away take the pressure off your horse by walking off in the opposite direction. If your horse walks off he feels pressure and does not want to connect. Wait for your horse to settle down in one spot and become relaxed then repeat in a very slow easy manner. Take as long as it takes.

Once the halter is on, feed your horse a treat and then remove the halter and leave. Do this exercise a few times and your horse will put the halter on himself. He will equate putting on the halter as a good thing. This is a very important step to use even if your horse is easily haltered because your horse will now be more at ease and see you in a more positive light.

TIP: This is how to fix horses that don’t want to be caught.

Whatever you are planning on doing, your horse will show more trust and willingness because you waited for him to feel safe and you asked him to go with you when he was in a willing mood.

PIC_1104The origins of this approach

If you’ve read my book ‘Naked Liberty’, you will know well the story of how as young girl I managed to integrate myself into a herd of wild horses over the course of 3 summers.

After the first summer of observing and studying the wild horses I found myself approach horses and everything in my life differently. I felt I had not really learned anything but when I got back to my own horse Mustang I watched myself be more of a leader, one he understood better.

I also had more respect for his personal space and knew better in how to communicate with him and companion up with him before we went out on a ride. The result was that when I sat in the saddle I could read his mind more clearly and because of that I could make better choices in how to support his focus, trust, willingness and desire to follow my lead.

The question I had always asked myself about whether my horse really wanted my company was no longer a concern because I knew how to truly read a horse and understand his natural desire to connect. What made the real big difference was using the wild horse’s social bonding rituals I had witnessed.

Other than the fact I was just a child at the time, what made my study of wild horses different is that I didn’t look at horses with a dispassionate eye as a scientist would have. Instead I was a participant. I become one with the herd.

Participating with a herd, being accepted and able to participate in their social games opened my heart to know deeply the true nature of horses. I found that horses are rich in a culture which teaches horses how to care of the needs of others in the herd.

It is natural for horses to enjoy flexible boundaries games with one another. Personal boundaries increase when a horse needs space from another horse and disappear when both horses enjoy being together in soft moments in unity and harmony. These fluctuations of personal boundaries helps deepen the bond between individual horses.

carolyn_resnick__marchadorThe Waterhole Rituals show you how to use flexible boundaries to communicate with a horse that would bring out a horse’s desire to bond and follow your lead.

With my own horses what I do once the halter is on is start Sharing Territory with him for several minutes so it becomes a ritual. It takes the edge off a horse and builds a habit in the horse to self adjust to calmness. In a short time you can depend upon the horse self adjusting his calmness and connection with you.

This way you have a two way connection, human to horse and horse to human. When your horse is fully focused on you and also relaxed, your horse will be in the proper state to follow your lead.

My approach with horses will help you develop your leadership in how to balance the give and take in an amazing way without having to behave aggressively toward your horse.

It will support you and your horse’s natural development from a performance based approach to a relationship based approach. With a performance based method your horse must follow your lead whereas with a relationship based method, you allow your horse to learn and grow their connection with you.

Taking time it takes to meet that need will brings about a magical partnership. The result will be that your performance training and riding experiences will be the best they can be.

The Waterhole Rituals start with the Chair Challenge which empowers you to connect and grow the bond with your horse effortlessly, easily and naturally from your and his natural loving instincts to bond.

Discover the Chair Challenge

To us horse lovers, horses are the greatest companionship animals on earth. If you have read up to this point, the partnership dance at liberty is calling you!

You are the true student of your horse. You will become the leader he is hoping to find through the Waterhole Rituals. Hope to see you in it soon.

Have a great weekend!  Be on the lookout for new horse and human sightings and may the horse be with you.

Warmly, Carolyn

10 Reasons Why You Should Begin With Liberty Training

The Benefits of Liberty Training

The benefits for you of Liberty Training © and working at liberty

  1. Your horsemanship skills will accelerate such that you will be able to handle issues with your horse you could not fix before.
  2. It will bring unity and harmony between you and your horse.
  3. You will see an improvement in your horse’s response to your leadership with any and all pursuits on the ground and under saddle.
  4. Your horse is easier to read than with tack, which gives you a better understanding in how to go about your communication with your horse.
  5. Often you will safer than when using tack as you are not physically attached to your horse, especially when he becomes.
  6. Helps you learn how be more effective with your body language.
  7. It improves your all-round in relating to horses and this only continues to grow.
  8. Your instincts kick in to action and guide you in how to approach training your horse.
  9. Deepens the bond you share with your horse.
  10. It is a perfect daily warm up by exercising the bond, trust, respect, willingness, focus, connection and energy as a way to re-establish the willingness of your horse to respond to halt, walk, trot, and canter in a controlled rhythm for a perfect performance under saddle.

The benefits for your horse of Liberty Training © and working at liberty

  1. Most horses give up their ‘vices’ without you even having to address the issues.
  2. Your horse will be much more willing and engaged during show performances.
  3. It will work and improve all horse from shy horses, dominant horses, food aggressive horses and horses that are not trained to seasoned horses, young horses, old horses and even fearful horses.
  4. Your horse will be much more responsive and connected with you under saddle, whether you are riding a show horse or a family riding horse.
  5. It will bring your horse feelings of safety and security when with you.
  6. It helps develop healthy muscles and allows your horse to enjoy spontaneous freedom of movement.
  7. It increases your horse’s desire to learn and perform as now he finds it exciting and fun to be with you.
  8. It brings profound well-being to your horse’s spirit when he does not feel pressured.
  9. It develops your horse’s intelligence because he is excited to learn new things and to perform for you effortlessly, easily and naturally at liberty.
  10. It will bring your horse so much joy when he is allowed to spontaneously dance at liberty because it matches the social interactions of a herd.
  11. It will create a healthy ego in your horse from knowing he shares a 50-50 partnership with you.

Benefits to you for all your equestrian pursuits:

  1. Dressage riders can balance the energy and focus of the horse so that the horse brings the appropriate energy needed for what he is being asked to perform, from a relaxed walk on a loose rein to an extended trot with suspension.
  2. For cutting horses, reining and working cow horses, Liberty Training is a way to warm the muscles up to be able to move freely in spontaneous movement. It will also increase the desire for a horse to work a cow.
  3. For pleasure riding horses, it will bring about relaxation and a more dependable ride.
  4. For competitive horses over fences, Liberty Training allows a horse to listen to their instincts and take directions, while at the same time deepening his ability to be in sync with his rider.
  5. For English pleasure and Western pleasure, Liberty Training develops a horse to be in tune with his rider and focused on listening to the rider’s aids.


* NOTE: ‘Liberty Training’ © is a copyrighted term registered and belonging to Carolyn Resnick

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Darcy - yesterday Reply

I have worked with an older mare for awhile. Usually easy to walk up to an put a halter on her. I have only had a few times she ran around with her buddy. I kept her moving until they got tired of running. I watched the video on using reed to keep horse from walking in front of you by raising it up around their face and head. I found it makes most nervous and later hard to work around their head because they put their head up away or into my face when bringing the halter over to buckle. I found running the reed along their neck and between their ears and on their face helped them be less nervous.

Theresa - last month Reply

I am just on my first day of the CC. I loved the results I got. I would like to know how this work applies to a 20yrs old horse. This horse has been with me for just 7 months now. He came from a hack stable where he was rented out to go on trail rides in groups. I wonder can horse with such a long back round like this actually change and understand this kind of new partnership relationship..He is very clever, He also seems to have a dominate personality . So I never push him, I am always gentle and slow. he seems to respond better to gentle treatment. He bit me once when I was grooming him. And I almost gave up on him out of fear. But I kept with him and now I have made some progress again. I am feeling a bit better with him. All thou I still have a bit of fear. Now I am starting the CC and hoping this will help. How does a horse with all thous years of being pushed around and worked so hard and impersonal make the transition? I have a lot to learn and I am enjoying every step of this journey.. Hoping for some wisdom and advice..

    Carolyn Resnick - a couple of weeks ago Reply

    Hi Theresa, No matter the age or history of a horse (and even those with long and traumatic histories) they will respond to Sharing Territory in magical ways. With the horse you have described, I would expect him to respond positively. Horses are companionship animals and that simply cannot be washed out of them. If your horse has a personality, his spirit has not been broken. He still has a great sense of who he is. I think what you have described shows that he is turning around and I believe that Sharing Territory will speed up this process. Let us know how you are getting on. Wishing you the best! Warmly, Carolyn

Christy - last month Reply

I have been doing the Chair Challenge for about two weeks now, and have noticed some nice changes in the way my horse and I interact. It’s been challenging with our weather (freezing temps and lots of wind and precipitation) and getting Indoor ring time alone. However, I faithfully give at least 15 minutes, but usually 30+, to the CC before doing anything else with him. What I’ve noticed about me is how much better I can see his attitude that day, how he feels about something or just in general. Weather really affects him, and on windy days he is always on edge. Yesterday we had a lot of fun sharing territory; he kept following me around, so I started jogging and going over poles and fences, making sharp turns, etc. He followed! At the trot, shaking his head sometimes and going over the obstacles like he enjoyed the game. Later when I went to put the saddle on, his head drooped and his eyes looked like he was really disinterested. 🙁 I’m going to have to find a way to make saddle time just as interesting for him. Anyway, thank you for giving me a way to change our relationship for the better!

    Carolyn Resnick - a couple of weeks ago Reply

    Thank you for sharing Christy. Its always nice to hear from Chair Challenge participants.
    Warmly, Carolyn

Kathryn - last month Reply

We take turns turning each others’ horses out at our local barn and today was my turn to bring them in. It was windy and they were nervous and almost ran me over as we walked back to their stalls. I managed to make it back with all of us safe and sound by sweet talking them, stopping them when they got ahead of me, backing them up and asking them to walk like gentlemen, please. I’m wondering if there is a better way to calm a nervous horse for a necessary walk…I really wasn’t sure we were all going to make it safely. Thanks for the blog!

Kerri Young - 7 months ago Reply

Hi there Carolyn. I have been wondering whether taking a horse behaviour course would benefit me before I start using WHR?

lydapola - 8 months ago Reply

In the spirit of your unforgettable on-line WHR classes and the importance of liberty, I write this little episode that happened yesterday as I am continuously impressed with how my horses teach me the importance of building a connection first and foremost.
I was giving a first time lesson to an adult male who was familiar with horses but had only been on a horse once. I briefly explained the idea of connecting to my horse, Sisi, before requesting anything from her. I asked my student to walk around with Sisi on the lead line from one cone to another and stop at each cone for a moment. Sisi obligingly followed him around but stopped every few feet to grab a mouthful of grass. I took that opportunity to discuss her behavior with him and spoke generally of body language and pauses while Sisi stood next to me. I then took her off line so we could start some work at liberty with her. I could not get rid of her. Time in my explanation alone had such an impact on Sisi she could not take her eyes off of me and followed wherever I went. What an impression that made on my student and on me.
I am forever grateful to you Carolyn, for inspiration and opening my eyes and heart.

Best Wishes, Lyda

    Carolyn Resnick - 8 months ago Reply

    Dear Lyda, It always amazes me the connection I get from horses just being with them and the dance that happens out of this shared connection. When we look for connection the horse is drawn to your leadership. Warmly, Carolyn

MaryGayeLeBoeuf - 8 months ago Reply


It sounds like you are off to a wonderful new adventure in making the world a better place for horses and their humans! Your online classes have been a gift to people and horses all over the world, and they will be missed! However, there is no doubt, looking at what so, so many people are doing with their horses today, you were and remain, at the forefront of the better and best way with horses. People are looking for a relationship with their horses, and they are playing and riding at liberty, they are moving away from restrictive and cruel tack and riding bitless and bridleless, even in “heavily tack dependent” disciplines like dressage, jumping, reining, trail courses, obstacle courses, and most importantly, working without fear and pressure. Your wonderful work, words and example have been a big part of this happening! Thank You!! Carolyn, without you and the Waterhole Rituals, I cannot imagine how much less bountiful my life would be today! Cowboy would still be an uncontrolled savage, or alternatively, a broken horse, with a defeated spirit. Instead, he is a happy, healthy, caretaking leader of his herd, who, at the sight of me, puts on his happy face. When I go to the pasture, I now have 5 of my own horses that come running to see me. They walk with me companionably through the pastures. I had to laugh, yesterday, when I was walking in with Cowboy in a deep pasture, I tripped and fell over a hoofprint hidden in the grass. Cowboy immediately stopped and looked back over his shoulder at me and waited for me to scramble up and continue walking. Cowboy asks me to play Liberty games, he loves the game, interacting with me and, of course, the treat at the end. But it is certainly not all about the treat. Then it is so interesting to see my other horses ask to play those games, too. I have never tried to teach any of the other four the Liberty games, they all learned by watching Cowboy and I play. But they come over to me and ask to play, and we do. I have been working with getting better control over my little herd, by having happy hour every evening in the arena after dinner. I put all five horses in the arena, and I start by sharing territory while they graze. Then I interact with each one of them, usually leading from behind and companion walking, then some happy scratching time. Remembering your telling me to think about the result I wanted, taking baby steps to teach the horses what I would like them to do, working with the horse when it had a tendency to do as I ask, I have succeeded in being able to take each horse from the arena, through several gates, and the barn, and put them out in the pasture for the night, all at liberty. And they will even stop and wait, along the way, if I ask them to. As you know, I could write several volumes attesting to all of the miraculous things you have taught me about horses and myself. So grateful to call you friend and teacher. Love MaryGaye

    Carolyn Resnick - 8 months ago Reply

    Dear MaryGaye,
    I remember when you showed me your copy of my book Naked Liberty and what you had underline in it. When I looked at it you had underlined most all of it in different colors of ink. My heart soured. It really meant something to you.
    I can just imagine how much you have leaned being with horses each day Sharing Territory with the herd. You have spent years with horses in a state of connection, observing the workings of herd dynamics in a state of amazement. I wish we could have spent more time doing this together. Thank you for all that you have contributed to the well being of horses and to me.
    Love, Carolyn

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