Working Red at Liberty

Yesterday was absolutely freezing. We got some snow early in the morning but none of it stayed around long, then the rest of the day was windy and blustery. To make it easier on us (and Red) we decided to put Red in the round pen to eat. Since Jubilee is here, we are lacking one stall. If we let Spirit eat outside, he pesters everyone and causes fights. Red is the only one that behaves well, but the walkway to the barn where he normally eats is muddy and we didn’t want him standing in mud to eat. I can’t wait until Jubilee is turned out with the boys and we have another stall built. It’ll be so much easier.

I could already tell that Red was pretty…ahem…playful..considering he galloped to the van and trotting alongside us to the barn. He wasn’t hot or too hyper, just letting us know he was in a good mood, I guess, lol. He stayed respectful with us though and the minute I grabbed his halter and lead to get him in the round pen he settled down and groundtied while I opened the gate. Then, I put him in the pen and decided to stay up there for a minute to make sure he wouldn’t freak being away from his herd. He sniffed around, then started snorting like a dragon and started up his prancing again. He did it all happily and didn’t seem nervous at all, never gave the barn a glance, just focused on me and making sure he didn’t run into me while he was pretending to be a stud.

Trotting past me.
I think he looks pretty dang good for Winter.

Since he was feeling frisky and I had some extra time to spend up there (and brought my camera, woot woot.) I decided to see if he would respond to any liberty cues. First attempt was to get him to stop and then come to me. I gave him his cues (Woah, come) and he slowed down and walked briskly to me. Then, I let him go off again. I made him change directions a few times but let him choose his speed. One of the points of liberty is letting them choose what to do and being our lead in the dance, but still having a partnership and joining them. He stayed in the area I asked him to and copied my directions, then when I sent him off alone so I could take photos, he obliged. Liberty isn’t about forcing them to go a certain way and do a certain thing, it’s about asking and being okay when they say “no, not today.” There’s still discipline, but no need for direct punishment. There’s respect.

People want the horses they love to choose to play with them, but they punish/correct/coerce when the horse says “no.” If “no” isn’t a real option, then their is no real choice, and the “yes” will mean nothing. -Mosie Trewhitt.

I told mom he looks like a gaited horse with that high trot, lol!
Looking in his fields.

We played around with a few cues, like backing up and then join up. He rolled around a few times, and I asked him to “woah” while he was down the second time he rolled, and he let me sit with him for a moment, then decided to get back up and joined up again. A lot of people see join up as a wonderful way to connect, but you can’t truly connect with join up if you are forcing the horse to join up with you. Anything in liberty is a choice. It’s not an excuse for the horse to disobey or be dangerous, but it’s about letting them choose when and how to connect, and letting them show you their true personality that we tend to hide with tack and nonstop training. Training is a good thing and a lovely tool, but I completely believe that a lot of people focus so much on training that they forget that their partner is a horse. The partner isn’t a trainer, it isn’t even a fellow human with a desire to win ribbons or buckles. Some horses truly love to compete, but every horse desires to be a horse and have their rider as a friend and partner even when the rider dismounts.

Handsome boy.

I don’t want a pushbutton robot for a horse.
I want an artist, a scientist, an individual – a friend.
Naturally, the untouched horse is all of these things. It’s only once we step in that the fight begin to put the horse back together again in a style we enjoy.
I will accept every horse for exactly who she is because I know there is no need to change what is already perfect.
Horses do not need us to change them; they need us to hear them.
We don’t need to control horses; we need to learn from them. -Mosie Trewhitt.

After a few minutes, I cued him to woah and wait while I got his feed. He walked around while I got his food and calmed right down for feed, then I walked down to say hello to a neighbor who had stopped by. Once he finished, I went to the gate and called for him to come over. I had taken off his halter when I left to go get the feed so he wouldn’t get caught on anything (there are some tree limbs that go over the round pen and some barb wire on one side that we haven’t taken down yet.) so I was hoping he’d be settled enough to let me get his halter back on easily. He stood when I asked and we got everything adjusted and I turned him out.

He walked with me while we checked water troughs.
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