Natural/Liberty Horsemanship- Lying Down.

And when the world threatens to fall asunder
His mane is there to wipe away my tears.
~Bonnie Lewis

One of my biggest goals has always been to be able to have Red trust me enough to lay down with him, crawl on him, sit with him, you name it, while he’s laying down. So far, we hadn’t gotten to that point yet. While a lot of you all have passions for riding and showing and etc, (and there’s definitely nothing wrong with that.) I have more of a passion for groundwork, gentling, and natural/liberty horsemanship. This is my thing, this is what gets me excited. Seeing people do liberty and practice these things just makes my heart swell up and it makes me want to have that kind of bond and trust with my own horse. While we had made so much progress in the last 2 years, that was one thing that Red had never allowed me to do. No matter how slowly I walk to him, or how quiet and gentle I am, he gets up the second I come into his sight.

When a horse is laying down, it’s at it’s most vulnerable. For a horse to allow you to either,

  • Lay it down without force.
  • Get close while they are lying down.

is a huge sign of trust. The horse has to trust it’s handler to not only treat them gently and not harm them, but also to protect them from anything else that may hurt them. This is also why you’ll typically see a horse standing guard over the other horse/s if one or more are lying down to rest, for protection so the herd stays safe. Not only does the horse have to trust the handler, but the handler also has to trust the horse. If there is no respect between the horse and handler, the horse may get up too quickly or clumsily and hurt whomever is next to them. The horse has to be careful around the person and respect them enough not to just get up without warning (or even permission.) and it has to trust the human enough not to use it’s flight instinct.

Teaching a horse to lie down or to stay down if they’re already down and you approach is just another extension of the horse and human bond. When a horse is lying down is when he is most vulnerable- and he is basically saying ‘I trust that you will not hurt me. You are my safe zone’ when he allows you to be around him when he is down.

So far, I’ve actually been able to cuddle with Spirit three times while he’s laying down. He’s very submissive, but he’s still fairly nervous and twitchy. But when he’s standing or being worked, he’s fairly spooky. He’s also very careful with who he chooses to like. He seems to have chosen my mother, myself and another handful of people as his ‘favorite people’ and he will allow them to come close. So this morning, we drove by the farm on our way to town as we always do and I saw both boys laying down and resting in the sun. Red had his head up towards Spirit while Spirit was fast asleep, and I asked my mother if we could pull over so I could do a little test. It had been an absolutely terrible morning due to some family issues, I won’t get into it too deeply but let’s just say I’ve been in a bad place emotionally for the last few months. I had spent the whole morning crying and frustrated at the situation and I honestly did not expect Red to let me get close, especially considering I looked like a wreck and I know horses can sense these things. But no…

I’m aware that this photo stinks but I love it…you can just barely see me curled up with Red, and notice that his head is laying on my back and holding me there.

Red stayed right where he was after glancing at me, making sure he knew who it was, and let me lay there with him. We sat there for at least 30 minuets, with my parents in the car trying to get some pictures for me, knowing I’d want a few of the moment. And I’m so happy it was caught on camera (and the ones where I was crying, you totally couldn’t see my ugly crying face, lol.) Red stayed there for as long as I asked him to. I wrapped my arms around his neck, then sat curled up next to him for awhile and he was totally at ease. He rested his head on my back for awhile and would occasionally wrap his head around me like he was trying to hug me. I’m 100% sure he totally knew what he was doing, he knew he was comforting me and he knew that I needed him to just be sweet, just for a little while. And he did.

You can see my step-dad’s shadow in this, Jeff was shocked that he stayed laying down even when he walked up. Spirit, however, got up as soon as he saw him climbing the gate.

He was also a bit derpy….

hanging out on my shoulder and making me smile again.

I’m 100% positive that he knew something was wrong and that I needed him. It’s days like this that I’m sure that horses have the ability to build bonds and love their humans just as much as we love them. They can love their partners, appreciate us, respect us, and comfort us. This is the best way I could think of to just get a nice start on my New Year, and I feel like it’s a great sign of where we’re going to be heading throughout this year.

1 goal for the New Year can be checked off. ✓ And to think we’re only 3 days into 2015.

8 thoughts on “Natural/Liberty Horsemanship- Lying Down.”

  1. This is such a moving story and I am so happy that you have been able to come so far with Red. My grandma is the person in my life who has taught me most of my ground experience, and how to handle horses. She is also in to natural horsemanship and I love it. I love the idea in general, because it makes so much sense! The horse I ride is a flea bitten grey names Jackson. He is an off the track thoroughbred, and has ran a total of 35 races and he is perfectly sound, and by far one of the most amazing horses I have EVER worked with. But sadly he isn’t mine. He is my trainers. Whenever I am at the barn I enjoy doing little stuff with him, but anything to gain more and more of his trust each time I am with him. But I love that you are doing this blog, and I think you should continue to post about your experiences with Red, and talk about how you practice natural horsemanship with him! ☺️


    1. Thank you so much! 🙂 My mother is the one who got me into horses but I discovered NH myself (through some lovely people on Facebook/blogs/Instagram, actually.) and she’s pretty into it now as well. It’s amazing how much NH can help a horse and rider (or just handler, even if the horse isn’t rideable.) and make everyone more comfortable.


      1. You’re very welcome! ☺️I love natural horsemanship!! Growing up I learned most of my stuff from Pat Parelli, and used to sit and watch his videos with my grandma all the time.


  2. Bobby has no issues with people approaching him while he’s laying down. You could hold a dance party on his back and he probably wouldn’t even pick up his head. But then there is nothing he loves more in life than sleeping. 😉

    It’s nice to see you and Red strengthening your relationship even more!


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