While I am still learning and continually adapting the way I ride and train horses, there is one constant that I have always used for feedback on my training and my methods. That one thing is the simple question of does the horse enjoy his training and does he want to be with me?
I always want my horses to enjoy the work that I do them, just as my dog runs and jumps with anticipation when I grab her leash and training tools. A horse that is happy and relaxed will learn much more quickly and easily. For me, this starts with does the horse want to come up to me in the field or in the stall? If I turn the horse loose in the round pen or arena, does he immediately move away from me, or does he stand quietly by me and even follow me if I start to move off?
I believe that this simple feedback tells me a lot about how my horse feels about me and what I am doing.
Because of this desire for the horse to enjoy his training, I have always been very intrigued by liberty work and bridleless riding. I find it inspiring because the horse is essentially free to do as he pleases. He is not being restrained in any way and can choose whether to stay with the handler or leave. This is why I find liberty work or bridleless riding that asks more of the horse, more movement and performance, so impressive when the horse makes the choice to stay and work in harmony his handler. It is so obvious that in most cases the horse enjoys the work and does it with a spirit of play, as though he was moving and playing with another member of his herd.
I just arrived home a few hours ago from a week in Florida working with Caroline Rider and her assistant and prior apprentice, Kaitlyn McGarvey. I was very inspired observing their work with the horses and I want to share that feeling with you. Next week, you can learn more about getting the connection and trust necessary for this level of horsemanship through an interview that I did with Caroline; but today I want to share a few videos of trainers that inspire me every time I watch them work! The first is a video of Caroline, the other three are trainers that I follow through youtube and their websites. Enjoy!
I hope you have enjoyed this little dose of equine inspiration for your weekend! As I mentioned, don't miss next week's interview with Caroline Rider! Tell me which was your favorite video in the comments!