Having Trouble Leading Your Horse to new places?

Dec 21, 2020

In last week's blog, Carolyn shared how to stay out of trouble with our horses and gain a strong leadership position. I want to expand on this subject based on an observation I have had of students when I am teaching clinics. 

It is so important that we are consistent in our leadership with horses. It is much like raising a child. The horse needs to know that he can depend on us no matter what the circumstances.  Often, I see students at my clinics do amazing things with their horses at liberty once they have an understanding of how to interact with their horse in The Resnick Method, but I see them enter and leave the arena leading their horses with zero leadership or awareness of the horse because they have a rope in their hands. The horse's mind shifts into fear and uncertainty because of the shift in the student's energy. I have noticed that people take their horses for granted because they feel that they already have a great relationship with the horse. They do not pay attention to when the horse is not feeling connected in the moment. It is very important to stay present to the environment as your horse does. It is a yoga consciousness for humans, but natural to horses. When we are working with horses at Liberty our vibration is our tack. When we use tack, that vibration should still be present for the horse to feel secure in our leadership. 

What I am going to share in this blog will help you have a better connection with a horse when you shift from liberty to tack and vice versa. How you put on a halter and take it off will help your horse feel comfortable in his new surroundings and stay focused when you turn him loose at Liberty. It will build focus, relaxation, and a sense of well-being and belonging. 

The bond you have and the mood of your horse the moment you halter him is very important. Some people don’t care about the emotion of the horse because they don’t understand that when the horse is feeling connected, and the human makes the mood of the horse a priority, the performance of the horse is magical. In this state, the horse can be easily trained. Caring about the mood of the horse will bring horse and human to a partnership that starts out magical right from the beginning.

Doing this practice will develop your horsemanship skills because you are completely focused on your horse and his mood. This practice allows the horse to guide you in how to handle him so that you share a perfect partnership with a horse at liberty AND with tack. Just the simple way you go about using a halter will awaken you to the energy you are sharing with your horse. 

Here are a few tips:

  1. Before you approach your horse to halter him, clear your mind, and put your focus on how good it will feel to be in your horse’s presence. He will read your energy which will help him to enjoy this activity with you. 
  2. Then, take the time to share territory and just “BE” with your horse. When you know your horse is feeling bonded and trusting, as well as being in a willing, relaxed mood you are then ready to put the halter on.
  3. At this point, he should enjoy standing quietly by your side and be focused on you. Put the halter on your horse, pause, and stand for a while in one spot to allow the “glue to set” between the two of you. Walk around a bit keeping the connection between the two of you alive. Now, you are ready to go to a new place with your horse.

When doing this as a daily practice your horse will begin to enjoy this time he has with you just being together in connection. Putting your focus on choosing when to put a halter on a horse and when to take it off is crucial. It is really simple learning how to approach haltering your horse!  

How to use this concept to introduce your horse to a new area, or arena, at liberty: 

If I were to take my horse to a new location to work at liberty, like a clinic,  I would not take the halter off and turn him loose if he was acting nervous and disconnected from me.  Instead, I would walk around with him in the area I would be working at Liberty. We would look at things together. I would drop my energy to relax him and when my horse would enjoy standing still without me having to manage him, I would then release him. In this state of connection, my horse is ready to work, play, or learn because all of the heartfelt strings of connection are vibrating between me and my horse in the present moment. 

The heartfelt strings are being shared at the moment a horse feels a bond, trusts me, respects me, is in a willing mood, and is focused on me. When the halter comes off nothing changes. Releasing a horse from a halter at the moment a horse feels a sense of well-being is the secret. If you practice this approach each time you halter and release your horse it will benefit the relationship you have with your horse wherever you are going to work, play, dance, or train.

If you do not normally have this kind of connection in new places, this approach and practice may serve you well. Tom Dorance, the famous Horse Whisperer has said, “How you start is how you finish.” It is so important to not overlook each moment in the process of the leadership you share with your horse.

Nan Zintsmaster

P.S. - If you would like to learn more about Liberty Training sign up for a FREE Breakthrough Session with us. We can answer training questions and put together a training program that will be a good fit for you and your horse!

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