Improving Performance Under Saddle Using the Waterhole Rituals™ as a Warm-Up Program

Nov 08, 2020

The Waterhole Rituals is a method of Liberty Training™ that I developed many years ago. They became an essential part of my dressage and bridle-less riding program in Sonoma, California.

By practicing The Waterhole Rituals as a warm-up exercise, before getting in the saddle,  you will have a connected horse that sees you as his leader, feels safe in your company, and is willing to do anything you ask!

The purpose of The Waterhole Rituals is often misunderstood. Although it is perfect for those who only want to interact with their horse on the ground, it shouldn't be overlooked that its value goes far beyond that. 

Horses can be inconsistent in their behavior when not fully connected to their rider. They can be connected with you one day and disconnected another, safe to ride one day and the next day not, sometimes too slow and other times too active. They may, at times, be unwilling, or can be unfocused. Warming up your horse with the Waterhole Rituals exercises before you get on to ride will develop your horse's desire to follow your lead to the best of his ability and bring consistency to your ride. 

The practice of The Waterhole Rituals(WHR) develops a Bond, Trust, Respect, Willingness, and Focus in a horse, enhancing any equine training or activity. However, this does not mean that if you excel on the ground with the WHR training, you will automatically excel in everything you want to try in the saddle. Working under saddle comes with specific skills and experience. The WHR allows the horse and rider to learn with ease and experience less resistance.  

Imagine a mechanic that knows how to build cars and this mechanic has a car that does not have a motor, a steering wheel, tires, a gas pedal, or gas. So, he or she goes about putting in a motor, a steering wheel, brakes, tires, and gas. Putting the car together and ready to drive is an analogy to what the Waterhole Rituals will do for you as a daily warm-up program before riding your horse. 

Suddenly, your horse will be perfectly in sync with you on the ground. The Waterhole Rituals develop a Magnetic Connection and a horse that looks to you for leadership. 

What do you gain from accomplishing this connection?

The same precision you receive on the ground will enhance your experience from the saddle. Turning aids, halts, half-halt, and even controlling your speed will be THAT MUCH more precise and will become second nature for you both. 

It is so important to understand that when the Magnetic Connection is shared between you and your horse, he will follow your lead without having to train him to do so. The focus of the Waterhole Rituals is on building the relationship. This brings a connected performance under saddle. 

Let’s look back at the mechanic who has a car that is ready to be driven. Will the mechanic be able to drive the car? You would think so, but if the mechanic does not know how to drive, the car will not drive itself. It is the same thing with a horse. You need to know how to ride and make the right choices to communicate and direct your horse while riding, as precisely as you did on the ground at liberty. When you have the same ability in the saddle that you do from the ground the result of your ride will be seamless. 

Stay tuned for next week’s blog that will include exercises to help you transition from the ground at liberty into the saddle!!

Thank you for reading my blog. May the horse be with you and stay on the lookout for new horse and human sightings. 


Carolyn Resnick


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