Liberty and the Art of Horsemanship

Mar 02, 2024

The easiest way to develop your horsemanship is to take the time to learn how to get a horse to follow your lead at liberty. That way, you become the true student of the horse. Connecting with a horse at liberty gives the horse a sense of freedom to respond naturally. At liberty, you can more easily see how to grow a deeper connection with a horse. The other aspect of communicating with a horse at liberty is that the horse will trust you more. This brings out the side of the horse that wants to follow your lead.

Horses can do anything we want them to do; in fact, they really do not need to be trained to perform. The trick is learning how to ask a horse to do what he will naturally do independently. It is just a matter of communicating in a way that would invite a horse to respond.  

Forcing a horse when he does not want to be controlled will develop a horse that needs to be forcibly controlled to perform. Horses can hide their true feelings when forced, and it can set them up for life; they will always be looking for a way out. The good news is that you can start over and work with your horse at liberty so that the horse will want to take an active and enthusiastic role in bonding.  Then, when he is given an option of whether to participate or not, he would choose to do so.

The art of horsemanship starts at the beginning of every day. It starts with the first breath, and at that moment you and your horse are in the same state of awareness. To be in the same state of awareness takes keeping the magnetic connection alive by focusing on the relationship. 

Taking the time to get a horse to volunteer his performance is fun and life-enhancing and will achieve a magical partnership and a performance that is the best the horse has to offer.  In a controlled performance, the horse will only put in enough effort to get by. He will not excel.

If we use the art of horsemanship, rather than force and control, horses have a natural desire to follow our lead and perform. Freedom to respond without reprimand is what keeps the dance in unity rather than an act that is not heartfelt by either horse or human. In most cases,  it would be preferable not to choose to take a  forceful approach.  Something is usually lost using forceful leadership,  and, you do not benefit from the connection that is gained with a true bond. 

Bonds form from sharing territory in nature. Magic happens when you let nature take its course. I’ve also noticed that animals that have been together for a while will always form a bond. These bonds can be incredibly close, especially when a cross-species bond is shared. Horses in nature could bond with me more deeply than with herd mates that they had known all of their lives. The trick is to put your faith in this understanding and allow the animal to take the relationship to the next step. Allow the miracle that nature provides us to give us a  helping hand in the training of a horse. 

Working with what you have, rather than what you want,  brings you clarity in how to approach your journey.  You discover that nature provides us support,  protection, and better results in a  relationship than anything we could strive to achieve. When we allow nature and the horse to assist us, we become humble, less afraid, softer, and stronger to our core. Life seems to flow, and the natural elements support us.

Training a horse while sharing a true bond, you learn how important it is to allow a horse to be free to respond. When the bond is being shared the trainer can easily ask, and get, a horse to perform at liberty without controlling the horse’s performance. 

You need to give the horse freedom and understand that you do not need to train a horse as much as you need to be a student of the horse to learn how to ask a horse to perform. With this approach, a horse will become more reliable in his partnership with you.

When giving horses freedom at liberty to respond to our leadership and creating a  program to suit their interests,  we find that horses are naturally more reliable than horses trained with tack.

In the past, we needed horses for our daily survival. Now we enjoy them for our love of them and the recreation and adventure they add to our life. From our love of them and the pure adventure we share with them, we understand that they can teach us how to evolve our leadership and spiritual growth. 

The last thing I want to add is that if we are looking for the dance, we can have it and even more by slowing down and taking the long journey.  Liberty training in The Resnick Method is a long walk to develop the perfect connection with a horse.  A walk that is more rewarding than the goal. The partnership is not forced or hurried. It is a partnership that is enjoyed by both the horse and the human. There is a spiritual connection and a  friendship.  Teaching a  horse to take responsibility without using control causes a  horse to perform in the best way possible.  Then, the dance is magical.

The choice is yours to make. No matter what choice you make, in the end, it is a spiritual journey; you are one with your horse. If you take the low road of strife and speed, only appreciating the goal as the reward,  you are unaware of life and the goodness it brings you. You are missing a path that offers life’s enrichment. When we cut a  path for ourselves,  it takes a  lot of hard work. If we don’t use the support that nature offers,  it can harden us to life itself. Who better to get us back on the path of least resistance and spirit than the horse? Leadership is what a  horse wants, and it is natural for humans to lead. Working on better relationships and understandings will guide us to be the leader we long to be and the leader that the horse is longing to find.

Stay on the lookout for new horse and human sightings. May the horse be with you.


Carolyn Resnick


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