Basic Training at Liberty

I never tire of using a large round pen for having fun with basic training and workout for both me and the horses. This year Alderlore has been able to completely re-do the back paddock (cut down trees, dig drainage ditches, build a silt/ run-off collection dam and re-grade and seed some of the edges)– to allow us to create a much larger area to play in.

Last year the paddock/ pen area never really dried, so we didn’t have a chance to do any liberty work. Last week I worked with both Jhana and Rio in the paddock to see what would come up for them.

I was happy to see that Jhana was really alert and spunky. And boy is she confident about herself! This is what I like to cultivate in my horses. Here is a clip of our playing together. Basically, she sets the game up as “king of the hill” — the top of the paddock is the “territory” we are claiming; while I am asking her to meet/ share this territory with me in a mutually affirming way, with mutual respect, while also being able to move around the entire paddock when I ask (without stopping to claim the territory). The “teaching” here, is that the horse can be asked to do a task, be willing to do a task, without diminishing her spirit, self-confidence, or her ability to lead under certain conditions.

Lets go to the video “tape”

In this second video, I am playing with Rio – who at 3 years old, has only been in this situation once before. Rio is a well-mannered, even tempered boy, with a singular problem. Somewhere along the way, he has developed a “sticky” right hindquarter. It braces when you put pressure on it. And he likes to kick you with it — sometimes just because you happen to be walking by. I think he developed this from the way the horses line up to eat. His mother is on his left, but my morgan Dawn (3 years older) is on his right, and tends to be the horse that takes on the role of his disciplinarian. Therefore, while eating, 2 x a day, 7 days a week, he protects his plate by bracing on the right hind.

In this session, you will see that the  only task I am trying to accomplish, is for Rio to make a soft circle in a clockwise direction around me. You will see that he wants to default to moving counterclockwise — which keeps me on his left side. Here is where the paradox comes in. His left side is DOMINANT — therefore, confident, and does not brace. On the right side he feels VULNERALBE — therefore he wants to keep me on the left, or alternately, if there is too much pressure, keep me OFF the right side — by kicking if there is too much pressure. So the last thing I want to do is put too much pressure on the right side, making that hindquarter more apt to keep kicking out.

Let’s go to the video tape

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