How a Horse’s Character Develops Over Time

The chronological order in the natural development of a horse is as follows:

  1. To follow his instincts and stay connected to his mom
  2. To stay connected to the herd
  3. To follow a leader

The social interactions between horses are how they develop these connections, which bring about respectful social behavior, mutually beneficial relationships and harmonious communication.

This is accomplished through food sharing, playing activities, mutual grooming and learning how to fit in with the social structure of the herd at large. It is similar to the way people learn how to connect and communicate with one another.

It starts with the letter “B”. It is all about the Bond.

horse and foalThe bond between a foal and his mother begins to develop soon after birth. A foal is born with the instinct to move away from movements that are coming towards it and to follow movements that are leaving it. This instinct causes a foal to stick very close to mom and match his mother’s movements perfectly.

In general, it takes about three days for this bond to set and is very deep in this beginning phase of his life. When the bond is complete a foal is glued to his mother wherever she goes. This bonding time causes a horse to feel a sense of security throughout it’s life.

This beginning time in a foal’s life is vitally important in helping him develop the instincts which will serve him throughout his life. It allows the foal to learn all the lessons his mother has to share to develop his character, to teach him how to respond to outside influences and how to fit in with the herd as he gets older.

After the foal is socialized with it’s mom the next step is the social development with other foals. The foal plays with his or her peers in games of run around, can’t-catch-me, mock fighting and grooming. They also enjoy pestering each other to see what they can get away with and what they cannot.

All of these activities form their ability to fit in with each other and then into the community at large. From these games a foal learns to respect others and how to garner respect. He learns how to avoid battles and how to choose his battles and how to win those battles.

There are more social lessons a foal learns when he begins to create new bonds within the community of the herd, for example, how to respect personal space and how to set boundaries. From the games a horse plays it develops the habit of staying alert to the surroundings, which helps protect him and in time the rest of the herd from predators.

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horse gamesAt the next stage of maturity, the horse begins to engage in harmonious relationships with all members of the herd. In the process of these practices a personal language between individuals is found. Once all the individual horses have developed a personal language with one another a herd language is born. This language affords the herd the ability to think and act collectively “as one”. The social connectedness horses share therefore bring safety and well being to each and every individual.

My method and approach with horses is designed to follow the chronological and social development of a horse in a natural herd.

What you want to achieve by practicing my Waterhole Rituals is to create a bond that is as deep as the bond horses share with one another. The reason you want this kind of connection is that a horse’s ability to learn is greatly enhanced when you have this kind of bond.

When a foundation is built through social development of the bond, it produces a magical partnership. It shortens the time it takes to train a horse. The horse learns much faster and the performance is the best a horse has to offer. If his instinct towards movement comes from a deep bond he shares with you, training and riding become as natural as the one he experienced with his mother.

However, most people approach training a horse using tack and/or a round pen, not only because ‘that’s how it’s always been done’ but because the thought of copying what horses do in nature is thought to be impractical and to take too long.

But I am here to tell you that it is very practical. In thirty days you can have the horse of your dreams following this approach when you start at liberty without tack and where the horse feels comfortable.

If you wait for your horse to start the bonding process in the moment when he becomes curious and open to the idea, you will soon start to develop a whole-hearted connection with your horse where trust is a 2-way street.

Waiting for a horse to start the bond in this more natural way can reduce the future training of the horse by half. This way you step into the horse’s world and communicate with the horse on his terms rather than the other way around. Approaching the bonding process in this manner you activate the natural instincts of a horse to want to bond and follow your lead.

I designed the method so the human becomes the student of the horse. They learn to develop their leadership approach such that their horse chooses to follow them. At the same time, it also helps a person to develop their own instincts when training their horse so they are not relying on prescriptive, inflexible tactics which leave the horse no space for self-expression.

How often have you seen that dead look in a horse’s eyes when the life has literally been drilled out of them? This is not what I want for my horses and I’m sure you don’t that for your horses either.

A herd at peaceIn the very first stages of the program, you are not actively engaging with your horse at all. The goal is for you to experience a deep sense of well being from focusing on the environment that surrounds you. By being present in nature in a state of well being and by slowing down, it causes you to lose any agenda you might have that causes a horse to be suspicious.

We all know how horses are affected by the energy that is present in a person. Horses can be soothed or repelled by a human’s presence. Pausing with a horse and being in a state of neutral brings the connection alive between a horse and human. This practise will build a magnetic presence that will draw a horse to you in the most natural way. Everything in life is drawn to this state of being. It is a humble state.

When you feel a sense of well being the horse wants to be in that space with you and will come and join you there. Allowing the horse to start the bond is invaluable and waiting for the horse to start the relationship with you is the first step of the chronological progression of the Waterhole Rituals.

Becoming aware of the environment like a horse opens the mind to think creatively and inclusively. When this happens a true bond begins to bloom.

When the bond is developed from the practice of the Waterhole Rituals there is a loyalty that is ever present which enhances any and all equestrian pursuits. Your horse will naturally choose your leadership over his own and you will naturally know when to follow and when to lead.

If you focus on the relationship first before you start your training each day, it brings out your horse’s inclination to match your movements like he does with his mother. This causes a horse to connect with his rider and to learn effortlessly, easily and naturally.

Pixabay Image 141968Continuing to focus on deepening the bond with your horse at liberty, is most important in the riding performance of your horse. Practicing connection, relationship building and communication separate from riding and training is most beneficial to any outcome you want to achieve together.

The Waterhole Rituals aren’t really a training method, they are more to do with shaping your horse’s character to fit in with you. You learn how to create a connection with a horse through caretaking leadership and how to develop a willing and optimistic horse that is not too dominant and not too timid.

The Rituals follow the natural, chronological order of social development in horses. First there is forming a bond, then developing trust, next developing respect, then comes gaining focus, and then finally developing willingness and the connection. When all of theses elements are in place it is impossible for a horse not to follow your lead.

When you have experienced the deep bond that the Waterhole Rituals bring you, you are fully prepared when that moment arises and your horse tilts his head and with clear, bright eyes looks to you for your leadership… you will know what to do…

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

Warmly, Carolyn

P.S. If you have not taken any of my programs before, then I suggest you start with The Chair Challenge and then move on to the Waterhole Rituals Online Program later.

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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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Leeanna parker - last month Reply

Hello Carolyn, Happy new year to you. I read in one of your blogs early last year. You said it’s not a good combination for a youngster (5yrs) and a novice (me) to be put together?. But if it does work I (me) Alice (5yr old). Have something special.That’s us. He comes when called fallows me around LOVES being groomed. I backed him last year and turned him away, now going to bring him back into work. He’s a forward going horse. Loves to work,& listens.The only problem I have is he likes to step away when I try to mount him. I need your advice please if I may??.. All the odds (people) were against us. I did question myself at one point. But I’m so glad I stuck with my heart. I want us to learn together,and so far it’s been great. Apart from Alfie slightly stepping out.
Kind regards leeanna & Alfie.x

    Carolyn Resnick - a couple of weeks ago Reply

    Hi Leanna, So glad you are having such a wonderful relationship with your horse. Usually people don’t ask their horse to stand still often enough or long enough each day. Go to my search bar on the HOME PAGE on my website and type in STANDING IN THE BOX. This exercise will help you. Another thing you can choose to do is to take 3 bales of hay or straw and make a U-shaped pattern. Put his food on top of the middle bale and let him eat while you groom him and walk around on top of the other bales. This will cause him to get used to you being high up. It might cause your horse to also relax when you go to mount him. What I do while he is eating, is ease onto his back and keep grooming so he thinks that me on top of him is part of the grooming experience. He will develop more confidence. I find this works every time. Hope this is of help. Warmly, Carolyn

Cristina Doporto - last month Reply

Hello Carolyn and all..Just wanted to share how taking your online course in 2012 changed so many lives.I live in the mountains of Argentina with my horses..I didn’t know then how much all your knowledge and the course would change my life. THE RITUALS grew in my and matured over time and nothing beyond MAGIC started to happen between me and every horse I encountered. They all looked at me as if saying”oh you speak horse”. I work with children and horses and show them how to be with them at liberty…I am one of the only people around this area doing liberty training…but even the local GAUCHOS are beginning to take notice.Also being a woman in this “chauvinistic” place and as they say doing weird things with horses..For one I don’t use a bridle when I go out riding as you can imagine it has caused some intrigue. I feel the only way we can change others behaviour towards animals is by example.Just wanted to let you know how your journey with horses, your extensive knowledge and experience has changed horses and people in a remote place in the world. With all my gratitud..Keep changing one person horse at a time.
Blessings to all
Ps..looking forward to your new book ..loved the last one..passed it to everybody I know.

    Carolyn Resnick - a couple of weeks ago Reply

    Dear Christina,
    Such a wonderful message to receive from you. I bet you that you have a book to share on your journey. Its so nice to connect with people such as yourself. Thank you for your contribution in helping to make the world a better place for horses and people 🙂
    Love, Carolyn

Susan Warner - a couple of months ago Reply

Hi Carolyn and Everyone! I just adopted Lois Lane, a 12 year old SaddleBred/Walker(?) cross from the slaughter pen and began riding her before we really knew each other! It didn’t work out very well and she scared the pants offa me! Yikes! I am 62 years old and have not ridden in 3 years. I always hated having to be what I felt was mean and a bully to my horses. My disdain for that is rooted deeply in my own extremely abusive childhood at the hands of a bully. Everyone always said you have to force them to bend to your wishes”show that horse who’s boss”, etc. I just don’t have that harshness in me. I did not know what to do with Lois. A friend at the barn told me about and loaned me the Water Hole Ritual DVD and I feel that I have found what my horses and I have always needed. I am so excited to join up with this training. I have been doing what I could understand of the rituals and am already seeing some opening up of my horse to me and me to her! Thank you, Carolyn and Staff.

Ashley - 6 months ago Reply

Hello Carolyn. What do you recommend for a 3yr filly that refuses to move. She is difficult to “chase away”. She also used to walk nicely on a line and now has a tendency to stop and stand. How do I remedy this problem without force. Ashley

kristindarnell - 6 months ago Reply

Hi Carolyn!
I am looking forward to participating in your next online class. I like your blog here as it starts at the beginning of when horses start to map in all the information they need to communicate with each other and eventually with us.

“Before you start your training each day, if you focus on the relationship first, it brings out your horse’s inclination to match your movements like he does with his mother. This causes a horse to connect with his rider and to learn effortlessly, easily and naturally.”

I want to focus a bit on the above quote you wrote today. It makes so much sense as I recall the days I would sit on top of our barn and watch groups of horses beneath me as they moved. There was always the moment that after standing awhile , the whole herd would move together as one movement. Their ability to mimic each others’ movement in a herd is so refined as to appear magical. How do they know??? Horses in this way are like a school of fish or a flock of birds, all moving as a
The way this has filtered down to me with my horses is what I want to share. One of my horses, in particular, has not been interested in connecting with me. She hasn’t liked to be groomed, approached, or willing to interact in a positive way for many years. However I keep practicing the WHR with her and slowly we have small victories!
About 2-3 weeks ago we had a significant break through. I went into her area and instead of being so focused on our routine I slipped into a different space and just started lightly scratching her. She communicated by moving her body into position where her preference was for me to scratch her.
We spent about 15 minutes of time together in a slow spontaneous way that worked up to putting her fly sheet on.
Our bodies were in a different kind of harmony than I recall experiencing before. Now when I enter her space I try to be aware of entering from a place of pleasure instead of a place of routine. The pleasure eventually can lead to the routine.

Thank you for having one more online WHR class. I appreciate it more than you can imagine.

Best to you,


ps For anyone who has never taken a class from Carolyn I encourage you to do it. The work has a way of opening doors that even without her constant support, initiate a process unto it’s own and you can keep stepping through! Do it!!

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