TRAINING A HORSE AT LIBERTY OPENS YOU TO THE VIEWPOINT OF THE HORSE
When you fail to consider your horse and only concentrate on the end result, you really don't need to know much about horses. In this case, your biggest concern is becoming a skilled trainer. Here lies my main question and concern. Where does the horse fit into this equation? Obviously, he doesn't. Consider the following example: Let's say you want to teach your horse to pick up his feet. You tap his pastern area softly and then tap more vigorously until he picks up his feet. As the horse picks up his feet to avoid the discomfort, you quit tapping. Bingo! Your method has worked. After innumerable repetitions, your horse learns to pick up his feet (with a soft tap) but what have you learned about your horse? The answer is "absolutely nothing" and your horse has certainly learned all he needs to know about YOU!
One of the greatest benefits of training a horse at liberty is that it requires you to develop a sensitivity for the horse's point of view and you therefore become skilled at reading your horse. At liberty, he is able to fully express himself and his feelings concerning your interactions. You quickly learn that a horse is not willing to do anything for you without a genuine heart-felt bond. Once a bond has been formed, you realize that the behavior exhibited by horses has meaning. Your focus is now on the relationship and the connection you share with your horse, not on the method of training.
The Waterhole Rituals can help (not because they are a method) but because they reflect the horse's point of view. Who knew that by emphasizing liberty with horses, you could free yourself as well? Being open to learning from horses has taught me much about them. They have demonstrated how well they read energy and intention from me. I can simply point my finger at their hooves, ask them to pick up their feet, and they willingly do so. My life began a positive transformation when I stopped trying to "teach" horses and simply opened my heart to learning from them. Our horses certainly agree that nothing feels better than freedom!
Linda and the herd of eight