One of the most exciting benefits of training at liberty is inspiring your horse through movement. I have always had a passion for dressage and I love the concept of allowing a horse’s natural expression of movement to shine through.
Horses move with incredible power and grace. There power is awe inspiring. But we often feel intimidated by the very thing that attracts us. Too often we try to squish this beautiful feature our horses were born with because it frightens us.
When you release your horse to move offline you free your horse to move without restriction, but you also free yourself! As long as you can create space between your horse and yourself then your horse can play BIG! Your horse can dance, snort and leap around and you both experience joy because you know you are safe.
If the relationship is strong between you then your horse can express herself with big energy, but also calm right down and be gentle when you ask her to.
Within this range of energy you have a wonderful opportunity to cultivate the movement. You can develop a language between your horse and yourself based on breath, body language, energy and intuition.
You can cue your horse to turn, to yeild her body, to step higher, to shift her weight, to re-balance, to cross an obstacle, to speed up the tempo, to stretch or jump or whatever your creative self can dream up.
You can teach all that on a line too of course. But on a line you will never really know if your horse wants to learn the exercise. As soon as the ropes are gone and you allow your horse to leave at any time, then you know your horse wants to learn. That’s a gift. It’s a gift for your horse and a gift for you.
One of my favourite quotes of Robin Gates’s is “You can’t really get a yes if your horse can’t say no.”
Robin is a brilliant trainer and her quote rings very true. When a horse makes a conscious choice to participate out of joy and not obligation, they throw their whole selves into the performance. It’s so much more fun to choose than to be pushed.