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Horses have played a integral role in human life and society for years, providing transportation, carrying us through war, helping us work the land in farming, providing sport and entertainment. But perhaps today, their role is shifting, as horses today provide us with companionship and even healing…

Equine therapy has risen in popularity, and for good reason – it is not only enjoyable to spend time with horses, but they teach us a lot.

This past weekend, I hosted my fourth event with Natural Lifemanship, a group that teaches a model for Equine Psychotherapy. What I love about this group in particular is they don’t just teach a method, they teach the neurobiology behind why equine therapy can be so effective.

And what they teach isn’t just for therapy. We can use these principles every day with our own horses to build relationships with them based on trust, connection, and partnership.

Listen to this interview to meet the trainers, Sarah and Kathleen, and learn how putting relationship first can change how you relate to your own horse.

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42 Responses

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this interview. It was great information with a new perspective. Wish I could have been there!

  2. This is a very different approach to horses that reminds me of a ” New Age Movement”. It has been applied to child rearing and other human relationships, I am very interested in seeing how it works with the horses. I hope to see regular updates. What did you think of it Callie?

  3. Yep, that’s it -connection. Awareness of the interaction. Relationship with the other, regardless if the other is human, horse, cat, or whatever else. Working on and reflecting on our relationships with non-humans makes us better people. I’d love to attend next time!

  4. By Carol
    I don’t understand the walking around swinging the rope, Is the purpose to move his feet? If if I understand what you are doing? It felt life you were pushing him away not drawing in. can anyone explain this to me please?

    1. Carol, I would recommend watching some of the Natural Lifemanship free videos to understand a little bit more about their model. You can click here to watch the playlist on Youtube from Natural Lifemanship.

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

    2. There have been many comments and confusion over the clips shown here where Sarah was swinging the rope while working with Colin. I am going to post this explanation in response to several comments here, just so everyone who inquired or voiced concern can see it.
      Please understand that a short clip we overlay on an interview cannot tell the whole story, however I do understand why these short clips with the rope have caused so much confusion. We will remove the rope swinging clips, not because I feel they were inappropriate, but as you can see with the full explanation below, they did not do a good job showing the “whole story”.
      In the following paragraphs I will explain how the rope is used in Natural Lifemanship, these are the same principles I strive to use with my horses and when I go out to halter a horse in the field.
      The rope is a tool to raise energy and keep the person regulated. Rhythmic movements, such as swinging a rope, can help to regulate a person’s emotions, as can swaying back and forth, clapping, tapping one’s body, etc. When we are working with the horse without physical contact, raising energy is a way to increase pressure. Pressure should only be raised in certain circumstances, which I will explain in the paragraphs below.
      If we had included the whole session you would have seen that this started very slowly, with just Sarah’s focused attention on Colin. He chose to ignore her, she chose to increase the pressure of her request by moving closer, slowly raising her energy to tapping a foot, then clapping, then making a clucking noise, he still just kept eating grass, with no recognition she was there.
      From that point, Sarah had several choices. She could leave, figuring Colin didn’t want to interact, but where do we go from there? If one party in a relationship chooses not to interact, is it best to give up?
      The other choice would be to remain, at the same level of pressure, standing there clapping, saying his name, etc. In this case, if the latter was not enough pressure to elicit a response of any kind from Colin, continuing to do more of the same is unlikely to elicit a response in the future. This can also teach Colin to simply ignore requests for interaction from a person.
      She could also have lured him over, grabbing a feed bucket to entice him. In this case, he probably would have walked towards her, but lures only work in the short term – it would have gotten her a behavior – him moving towards her, but would have done little to create a connection.
      Sarah chose instead to increase the pressure by swinging the rope to increase her level of body energy, effectively increasing the pressure in the request she was making for Colin to interact with her.
      This was a process of shaping – when Colin would look towards her, Sarah would drop the pressure, Colin would choose to walk away again and Sarah would start over with simply focusing on him, and then once again slowly moving up through the levels of pressure.
      The session was training through negative reinforcement – pressure and release – with the release coming for Colin directing his attention towards her and being shaped to his approaching and then moving with her.
      His reward when they were close enough for physical contact was Sarah scratching him in some favorite spots which he quite enjoyed.
      The bottom line – Colin is not hard to “catch”, and he was not hard to catch on this day either, but he will not interact in the process. What I mean by that is if a person walks out to his field and puts the rope around his neck and pulls his head up, he will stand there and comply with it all. But when asked to lift his head and acknowledge the person approaching him, he will choose to walk off.
      The goal of this session with Colin was connection, that when approached, the person can stand back, ask him to engage and connect, by lifting his head, looking over, and even moving towards.
      While the short clips in this interview may not have shown it, Sarah moved very slowly through the levels of pressure, given the obvious fact that Colin was confined to an acre size paddock, he had the maximum amount of choice for how to respond that he could have been given in that situation. He was never once chased – when he did run the pressure didn’t go away, but every time he would go off in walk, trot, or even a gallop it was clearly his idea to run away, not a behavior out of feeling threatened or chased.
      The outcome? The past week since this session with Sarah, Colin has been more interactive when approached in his field, he lifts his head, he walks over, and it requires less time and less pressure to engage him.
      The danger in posting short videos or photos is that they are often misinterpreted or misunderstood without more context. I hope this explanation clears up the rope swinging, and please don’t hesitate to comment if you have more questions!

  5. Wow… I didn’t see the clinic, but watched the interview. Found the concept super interesting. I’d love to find out how to go further with this method.

  6. That is really lovely!. In this day and age when generally people seem more and more disconnected to bring this in is great. I am fortunate to live in an area in Australia where so many people are offering Equine Assisted Therapy or Equine Assisted Learning. It is wonderful work.

  7. thank you for sharing!
    yes, I wondered too about the rope swinging……have done that alot myself. Now realise, when it comes to a new horse, a small space is a time saver…..
    Recently, I watched some Karen Rohlf stuff, and she demonstrated a technique to develop curiosity.
    Basically pretending not to be interested in catching the horse, just moseying about the field, looking at stuff, the weeds maybe….., and from time to time, walking through the horse, (using a swinging rope or what ever pretty low energy), to get to her destination. Eventually, the horse
    got curious and came over to her!!! So, do try it, I’d love to know how you get on…….
    btw, Callie & Karen are my go to trainers mostly…..do dabble with others as well…….

    1. There have been many comments and confusion over the clips shown here where Sarah was swinging the rope while working with Colin. I am going to post this explanation in response to several comments here, just so everyone who inquired or voiced concern can see it.
      Please understand that a short clip we overlay on an interview cannot tell the whole story, however I do understand why these short clips with the rope have caused so much confusion. We will remove the rope swinging clips, not because I feel they were inappropriate, but as you can see with the full explanation below, they did not do a good job showing the “whole story”.
      In the following paragraphs I will explain how the rope is used in Natural Lifemanship, these are the same principles I strive to use with my horses and when I go out to halter a horse in the field.
      The rope is a tool to raise energy and keep the person regulated. Rhythmic movements, such as swinging a rope, can help to regulate a person’s emotions, as can swaying back and forth, clapping, tapping one’s body, etc. When we are working with the horse without physical contact, raising energy is a way to increase pressure. Pressure should only be raised in certain circumstances, which I will explain in the paragraphs below.
      If we had included the whole session you would have seen that this started very slowly, with just Sarah’s focused attention on Colin. He chose to ignore her, she chose to increase the pressure of her request by moving closer, slowly raising her energy to tapping a foot, then clapping, then making a clucking noise, he still just kept eating grass, with no recognition she was there.
      From that point, Sarah had several choices. She could leave, figuring Colin didn’t want to interact, but where do we go from there? If one party in a relationship chooses not to interact, is it best to give up?
      The other choice would be to remain, at the same level of pressure, standing there clapping, saying his name, etc. In this case, if the latter was not enough pressure to elicit a response of any kind from Colin, continuing to do more of the same is unlikely to elicit a response in the future. This can also teach Colin to simply ignore requests for interaction from a person.
      She could also have lured him over, grabbing a feed bucket to entice him. In this case, he probably would have walked towards her, but lures only work in the short term – it would have gotten her a behavior – him moving towards her, but would have done little to create a connection.
      Sarah chose instead to increase the pressure by swinging the rope to increase her level of body energy, effectively increasing the pressure in the request she was making for Colin to interact with her.
      This was a process of shaping – when Colin would look towards her, Sarah would drop the pressure, Colin would choose to walk away again and Sarah would start over with simply focusing on him, and then once again slowly moving up through the levels of pressure.
      The session was training through negative reinforcement – pressure and release – with the release coming for Colin directing his attention towards her and being shaped to his approaching and then moving with her.
      His reward when they were close enough for physical contact was Sarah scratching him in some favorite spots which he quite enjoyed.
      The bottom line – Colin is not hard to “catch”, and he was not hard to catch on this day either, but he will not interact in the process. What I mean by that is if a person walks out to his field and puts the rope around his neck and pulls his head up, he will stand there and comply with it all. But when asked to lift his head and acknowledge the person approaching him, he will choose to walk off.
      The goal of this session with Colin was connection, that when approached, the person can stand back, ask him to engage and connect, by lifting his head, looking over, and even moving towards.
      While the short clips in this interview may not have shown it, Sarah moved very slowly through the levels of pressure, given the obvious fact that Colin was confined to an acre size paddock, he had the maximum amount of choice for how to respond that he could have been given in that situation. He was never once chased – when he did run the pressure didn’t go away, but every time he would go off in walk, trot, or even a gallop it was clearly his idea to run away, not a behavior out of feeling threatened or chased.
      The outcome? The past week since this session with Sarah, Colin has been more interactive when approached in his field, he lifts his head, he walks over, and it requires less time and less pressure to engage him.
      The danger in posting short videos or photos is that they are often misinterpreted or misunderstood without more context. I hope this explanation clears up the rope swinging, and please don’t hesitate to comment if you have more questions!

  8. This is probably no related, or maybe it is in some way. I recently bought a QH mare and my friend bought her barn buddy pony friend. They are at my house now for a month, but at some point my friend will want to take her pony home…..and they are closely bonded! I will try and replace her friend with a mini or pony, but I am not sure how to separate the two without mental trauma to both of them. Any suggestions?

    1. Patty, we actually talked a little bit about this on today’s Balanced Riding Course member webinar. The horse we used for the webinar, Henry, used to get extremely worked up being in the indoor away from his friends but in doing this work he has become more comfortable being in the indoor by himself. I would definitely recommend learning more about the Natural Lifemanship model and apply it to your work with your Quarter Horse!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  9. This was a very interesting interview. Being a former teacher, I’ve always found that offering choices was a good method to ensure cooperation from my students. I usually hear that the rider must be the Alpha in order to get the horse to comply with direction. I love the emphasis on connection. I also didn’t understand the swinging rope in the pasture to develop connection.

    1. There have been many comments and confusion over the clips shown here where Sarah was swinging the rope while working with Colin. I am going to post this explanation in response to several comments here, just so everyone who inquired or voiced concern can see it.
      Please understand that a short clip we overlay on an interview cannot tell the whole story, however I do understand why these short clips with the rope have caused so much confusion. We will remove the rope swinging clips, not because I feel they were inappropriate, but as you can see with the full explanation below, they did not do a good job showing the “whole story”.
      In the following paragraphs I will explain how the rope is used in Natural Lifemanship, these are the same principles I strive to use with my horses and when I go out to halter a horse in the field.
      The rope is a tool to raise energy and keep the person regulated. Rhythmic movements, such as swinging a rope, can help to regulate a person’s emotions, as can swaying back and forth, clapping, tapping one’s body, etc. When we are working with the horse without physical contact, raising energy is a way to increase pressure. Pressure should only be raised in certain circumstances, which I will explain in the paragraphs below.
      If we had included the whole session you would have seen that this started very slowly, with just Sarah’s focused attention on Colin. He chose to ignore her, she chose to increase the pressure of her request by moving closer, slowly raising her energy to tapping a foot, then clapping, then making a clucking noise, he still just kept eating grass, with no recognition she was there.
      From that point, Sarah had several choices. She could leave, figuring Colin didn’t want to interact, but where do we go from there? If one party in a relationship chooses not to interact, is it best to give up?
      The other choice would be to remain, at the same level of pressure, standing there clapping, saying his name, etc. In this case, if the latter was not enough pressure to elicit a response of any kind from Colin, continuing to do more of the same is unlikely to elicit a response in the future. This can also teach Colin to simply ignore requests for interaction from a person.
      She could also have lured him over, grabbing a feed bucket to entice him. In this case, he probably would have walked towards her, but lures only work in the short term – it would have gotten her a behavior – him moving towards her, but would have done little to create a connection.
      Sarah chose instead to increase the pressure by swinging the rope to increase her level of body energy, effectively increasing the pressure in the request she was making for Colin to interact with her.
      This was a process of shaping – when Colin would look towards her, Sarah would drop the pressure, Colin would choose to walk away again and Sarah would start over with simply focusing on him, and then once again slowly moving up through the levels of pressure.
      The session was training through negative reinforcement – pressure and release – with the release coming for Colin directing his attention towards her and being shaped to his approaching and then moving with her.
      His reward when they were close enough for physical contact was Sarah scratching him in some favorite spots which he quite enjoyed.
      The bottom line – Colin is not hard to “catch”, and he was not hard to catch on this day either, but he will not interact in the process. What I mean by that is if a person walks out to his field and puts the rope around his neck and pulls his head up, he will stand there and comply with it all. But when asked to lift his head and acknowledge the person approaching him, he will choose to walk off.
      The goal of this session with Colin was connection, that when approached, the person can stand back, ask him to engage and connect, by lifting his head, looking over, and even moving towards.
      While the short clips in this interview may not have shown it, Sarah moved very slowly through the levels of pressure, given the obvious fact that Colin was confined to an acre size paddock, he had the maximum amount of choice for how to respond that he could have been given in that situation. He was never once chased – when he did run the pressure didn’t go away, but every time he would go off in walk, trot, or even a gallop it was clearly his idea to run away, not a behavior out of feeling threatened or chased.
      The outcome? The past week since this session with Sarah, Colin has been more interactive when approached in his field, he lifts his head, he walks over, and it requires less time and less pressure to engage him.
      The danger in posting short videos or photos is that they are often misinterpreted or misunderstood without more context. I hope this explanation clears up the rope swinging, and please don’t hesitate to comment if you have more questions!

    1. Same here. I made me think of Monty Roberts Join up procedure, which I find is an outdated method based on dominance. And yes, the rope swinging took away from their message, which was ok, but not sensationally new.

      1. The rope swinging is a form of increasing pressure, initially Sarah started with less pressure and the rope is just a tool to increase the pressure when the horse doesn’t give the response we are looking for, once the correct response is given the pressure is dropped.

        -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

      2. There have been many comments and confusion over the clips shown here where Sarah was swinging the rope while working with Colin. I am going to post this explanation in response to several comments here, just so everyone who inquired or voiced concern can see it.
        Please understand that a short clip we overlay on an interview cannot tell the whole story, however I do understand why these short clips with the rope have caused so much confusion. We will remove the rope swinging clips, not because I feel they were inappropriate, but as you can see with the full explanation below, they did not do a good job showing the “whole story”.
        In the following paragraphs I will explain how the rope is used in Natural Lifemanship, these are the same principles I strive to use with my horses and when I go out to halter a horse in the field.
        The rope is a tool to raise energy and keep the person regulated. Rhythmic movements, such as swinging a rope, can help to regulate a person’s emotions, as can swaying back and forth, clapping, tapping one’s body, etc. When we are working with the horse without physical contact, raising energy is a way to increase pressure. Pressure should only be raised in certain circumstances, which I will explain in the paragraphs below.
        If we had included the whole session you would have seen that this started very slowly, with just Sarah’s focused attention on Colin. He chose to ignore her, she chose to increase the pressure of her request by moving closer, slowly raising her energy to tapping a foot, then clapping, then making a clucking noise, he still just kept eating grass, with no recognition she was there.
        From that point, Sarah had several choices. She could leave, figuring Colin didn’t want to interact, but where do we go from there? If one party in a relationship chooses not to interact, is it best to give up?
        The other choice would be to remain, at the same level of pressure, standing there clapping, saying his name, etc. In this case, if the latter was not enough pressure to elicit a response of any kind from Colin, continuing to do more of the same is unlikely to elicit a response in the future. This can also teach Colin to simply ignore requests for interaction from a person.
        She could also have lured him over, grabbing a feed bucket to entice him. In this case, he probably would have walked towards her, but lures only work in the short term – it would have gotten her a behavior – him moving towards her, but would have done little to create a connection.
        Sarah chose instead to increase the pressure by swinging the rope to increase her level of body energy, effectively increasing the pressure in the request she was making for Colin to interact with her.
        This was a process of shaping – when Colin would look towards her, Sarah would drop the pressure, Colin would choose to walk away again and Sarah would start over with simply focusing on him, and then once again slowly moving up through the levels of pressure.
        The session was training through negative reinforcement – pressure and release – with the release coming for Colin directing his attention towards her and being shaped to his approaching and then moving with her.
        His reward when they were close enough for physical contact was Sarah scratching him in some favorite spots which he quite enjoyed.
        The bottom line – Colin is not hard to “catch”, and he was not hard to catch on this day either, but he will not interact in the process. What I mean by that is if a person walks out to his field and puts the rope around his neck and pulls his head up, he will stand there and comply with it all. But when asked to lift his head and acknowledge the person approaching him, he will choose to walk off.
        The goal of this session with Colin was connection, that when approached, the person can stand back, ask him to engage and connect, by lifting his head, looking over, and even moving towards.
        While the short clips in this interview may not have shown it, Sarah moved very slowly through the levels of pressure, given the obvious fact that Colin was confined to an acre size paddock, he had the maximum amount of choice for how to respond that he could have been given in that situation. He was never once chased – when he did run the pressure didn’t go away, but every time he would go off in walk, trot, or even a gallop it was clearly his idea to run away, not a behavior out of feeling threatened or chased.
        The outcome? The past week since this session with Sarah, Colin has been more interactive when approached in his field, he lifts his head, he walks over, and it requires less time and less pressure to engage him.
        The danger in posting short videos or photos is that they are often misinterpreted or misunderstood without more context. I hope this explanation clears up the rope swinging, and please don’t hesitate to comment if you have more questions!

      3. Not sure why everyone isn’t getting this, the rope ‘swinging’ wasn’t chasing or lassoing or anything aggressive, just attention seeking. The opposite of domination, it was a request. Not to get off topic, but I’ve taken a couple courses with Monty, and he absolutely does not try to dominate the horse. In both examples, the horses are given options to make choices, that is really the best we can to to help make a connection with them!

    2. Fiona, I also responded to Ea Trane. The rope is simply a tool to increase pressure!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

    3. There have been many comments and confusion over the clips shown here where Sarah was swinging the rope while working with Colin. I am going to post this explanation in response to several comments here, just so everyone who inquired or voiced concern can see it.
      Please understand that a short clip we overlay on an interview cannot tell the whole story, however I do understand why these short clips with the rope have caused so much confusion. We will remove the rope swinging clips, not because I feel they were inappropriate, but as you can see with the full explanation below, they did not do a good job showing the “whole story”.
      In the following paragraphs I will explain how the rope is used in Natural Lifemanship, these are the same principles I strive to use with my horses and when I go out to halter a horse in the field.
      The rope is a tool to raise energy and keep the person regulated. Rhythmic movements, such as swinging a rope, can help to regulate a person’s emotions, as can swaying back and forth, clapping, tapping one’s body, etc. When we are working with the horse without physical contact, raising energy is a way to increase pressure. Pressure should only be raised in certain circumstances, which I will explain in the paragraphs below.
      If we had included the whole session you would have seen that this started very slowly, with just Sarah’s focused attention on Colin. He chose to ignore her, she chose to increase the pressure of her request by moving closer, slowly raising her energy to tapping a foot, then clapping, then making a clucking noise, he still just kept eating grass, with no recognition she was there.
      From that point, Sarah had several choices. She could leave, figuring Colin didn’t want to interact, but where do we go from there? If one party in a relationship chooses not to interact, is it best to give up?
      The other choice would be to remain, at the same level of pressure, standing there clapping, saying his name, etc. In this case, if the latter was not enough pressure to elicit a response of any kind from Colin, continuing to do more of the same is unlikely to elicit a response in the future. This can also teach Colin to simply ignore requests for interaction from a person.
      She could also have lured him over, grabbing a feed bucket to entice him. In this case, he probably would have walked towards her, but lures only work in the short term – it would have gotten her a behavior – him moving towards her, but would have done little to create a connection.
      Sarah chose instead to increase the pressure by swinging the rope to increase her level of body energy, effectively increasing the pressure in the request she was making for Colin to interact with her.
      This was a process of shaping – when Colin would look towards her, Sarah would drop the pressure, Colin would choose to walk away again and Sarah would start over with simply focusing on him, and then once again slowly moving up through the levels of pressure.
      The session was training through negative reinforcement – pressure and release – with the release coming for Colin directing his attention towards her and being shaped to his approaching and then moving with her.
      His reward when they were close enough for physical contact was Sarah scratching him in some favorite spots which he quite enjoyed.
      The bottom line – Colin is not hard to “catch”, and he was not hard to catch on this day either, but he will not interact in the process. What I mean by that is if a person walks out to his field and puts the rope around his neck and pulls his head up, he will stand there and comply with it all. But when asked to lift his head and acknowledge the person approaching him, he will choose to walk off.
      The goal of this session with Colin was connection, that when approached, the person can stand back, ask him to engage and connect, by lifting his head, looking over, and even moving towards.
      While the short clips in this interview may not have shown it, Sarah moved very slowly through the levels of pressure, given the obvious fact that Colin was confined to an acre size paddock, he had the maximum amount of choice for how to respond that he could have been given in that situation. He was never once chased – when he did run the pressure didn’t go away, but every time he would go off in walk, trot, or even a gallop it was clearly his idea to run away, not a behavior out of feeling threatened or chased.
      The outcome? The past week since this session with Sarah, Colin has been more interactive when approached in his field, he lifts his head, he walks over, and it requires less time and less pressure to engage him.
      The danger in posting short videos or photos is that they are often misinterpreted or misunderstood without more context. I hope this explanation clears up the rope swinging, and please don’t hesitate to comment if you have more questions!

  10. Not on board with the rope swinging. Someone is swinging a rope at a prey animal, why on earth would he trust that person?

    1. Janine, the rope swinging is a way of ‘increasing pressure’ when the horse is ignoring the request that is being made for connection. That pressure is taken away when the horse gives the response that he is open to connection. The rope has no predatory connotation for the horse, it is simply a way of increasing pressure – if at first the horse moves away from the pressure but the pressure is maintained he learns that isn’t the right response and will eventually try something else. In the video Kathleen explains that she is looking just for connection from Colin.

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

    2. There have been many comments and confusion over the clips shown here where Sarah was swinging the rope while working with Colin. I am going to post this explanation in response to several comments here, just so everyone who inquired or voiced concern can see it.
      Please understand that a short clip we overlay on an interview cannot tell the whole story, however I do understand why these short clips with the rope have caused so much confusion. We will remove the rope swinging clips, not because I feel they were inappropriate, but as you can see with the full explanation below, they did not do a good job showing the “whole story”.
      In the following paragraphs I will explain how the rope is used in Natural Lifemanship, these are the same principles I strive to use with my horses and when I go out to halter a horse in the field.
      The rope is a tool to raise energy and keep the person regulated. Rhythmic movements, such as swinging a rope, can help to regulate a person’s emotions, as can swaying back and forth, clapping, tapping one’s body, etc. When we are working with the horse without physical contact, raising energy is a way to increase pressure. Pressure should only be raised in certain circumstances, which I will explain in the paragraphs below.
      If we had included the whole session you would have seen that this started very slowly, with just Sarah’s focused attention on Colin. He chose to ignore her, she chose to increase the pressure of her request by moving closer, slowly raising her energy to tapping a foot, then clapping, then making a clucking noise, he still just kept eating grass, with no recognition she was there.
      From that point, Sarah had several choices. She could leave, figuring Colin didn’t want to interact, but where do we go from there? If one party in a relationship chooses not to interact, is it best to give up?
      The other choice would be to remain, at the same level of pressure, standing there clapping, saying his name, etc. In this case, if the latter was not enough pressure to elicit a response of any kind from Colin, continuing to do more of the same is unlikely to elicit a response in the future. This can also teach Colin to simply ignore requests for interaction from a person.
      She could also have lured him over, grabbing a feed bucket to entice him. In this case, he probably would have walked towards her, but lures only work in the short term – it would have gotten her a behavior – him moving towards her, but would have done little to create a connection.
      Sarah chose instead to increase the pressure by swinging the rope to increase her level of body energy, effectively increasing the pressure in the request she was making for Colin to interact with her.
      This was a process of shaping – when Colin would look towards her, Sarah would drop the pressure, Colin would choose to walk away again and Sarah would start over with simply focusing on him, and then once again slowly moving up through the levels of pressure.
      The session was training through negative reinforcement – pressure and release – with the release coming for Colin directing his attention towards her and being shaped to his approaching and then moving with her.
      His reward when they were close enough for physical contact was Sarah scratching him in some favorite spots which he quite enjoyed.
      The bottom line – Colin is not hard to “catch”, and he was not hard to catch on this day either, but he will not interact in the process. What I mean by that is if a person walks out to his field and puts the rope around his neck and pulls his head up, he will stand there and comply with it all. But when asked to lift his head and acknowledge the person approaching him, he will choose to walk off.
      The goal of this session with Colin was connection, that when approached, the person can stand back, ask him to engage and connect, by lifting his head, looking over, and even moving towards.
      While the short clips in this interview may not have shown it, Sarah moved very slowly through the levels of pressure, given the obvious fact that Colin was confined to an acre size paddock, he had the maximum amount of choice for how to respond that he could have been given in that situation. He was never once chased – when he did run the pressure didn’t go away, but every time he would go off in walk, trot, or even a gallop it was clearly his idea to run away, not a behavior out of feeling threatened or chased.
      The outcome? The past week since this session with Sarah, Colin has been more interactive when approached in his field, he lifts his head, he walks over, and it requires less time and less pressure to engage him.
      The danger in posting short videos or photos is that they are often misinterpreted or misunderstood without more context. I hope this explanation clears up the rope swinging, and please don’t hesitate to comment if you have more questions!

  11. Me too. An explanation of the rope swinging would be really helpful, please, please. I agree – surely it would cause a horse, a human, etc, to walk away. If it incites curiosity, at what point would rope swinging stop. Not understanding anything about that left me feeling confused about the interview content. Really hoping for an answer

    1. Hi Linda, that is a great question, the rope swinging is a way of ‘increasing pressure’ when the horse is ignoring the request that is being made for connection. The pressure would be released when the horse gave a response of being open to connection.

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

    2. There have been many comments and confusion over the clips shown here where Sarah was swinging the rope while working with Colin. I am going to post this explanation in response to several comments here, just so everyone who inquired or voiced concern can see it.
      Please understand that a short clip we overlay on an interview cannot tell the whole story, however I do understand why these short clips with the rope have caused so much confusion. We will remove the rope swinging clips, not because I feel they were inappropriate, but as you can see with the full explanation below, they did not do a good job showing the “whole story”.
      In the following paragraphs I will explain how the rope is used in Natural Lifemanship, these are the same principles I strive to use with my horses and when I go out to halter a horse in the field.
      The rope is a tool to raise energy and keep the person regulated. Rhythmic movements, such as swinging a rope, can help to regulate a person’s emotions, as can swaying back and forth, clapping, tapping one’s body, etc. When we are working with the horse without physical contact, raising energy is a way to increase pressure. Pressure should only be raised in certain circumstances, which I will explain in the paragraphs below.
      If we had included the whole session you would have seen that this started very slowly, with just Sarah’s focused attention on Colin. He chose to ignore her, she chose to increase the pressure of her request by moving closer, slowly raising her energy to tapping a foot, then clapping, then making a clucking noise, he still just kept eating grass, with no recognition she was there.
      From that point, Sarah had several choices. She could leave, figuring Colin didn’t want to interact, but where do we go from there? If one party in a relationship chooses not to interact, is it best to give up?
      The other choice would be to remain, at the same level of pressure, standing there clapping, saying his name, etc. In this case, if the latter was not enough pressure to elicit a response of any kind from Colin, continuing to do more of the same is unlikely to elicit a response in the future. This can also teach Colin to simply ignore requests for interaction from a person.
      She could also have lured him over, grabbing a feed bucket to entice him. In this case, he probably would have walked towards her, but lures only work in the short term – it would have gotten her a behavior – him moving towards her, but would have done little to create a connection.
      Sarah chose instead to increase the pressure by swinging the rope to increase her level of body energy, effectively increasing the pressure in the request she was making for Colin to interact with her.
      This was a process of shaping – when Colin would look towards her, Sarah would drop the pressure, Colin would choose to walk away again and Sarah would start over with simply focusing on him, and then once again slowly moving up through the levels of pressure.
      The session was training through negative reinforcement – pressure and release – with the release coming for Colin directing his attention towards her and being shaped to his approaching and then moving with her.
      His reward when they were close enough for physical contact was Sarah scratching him in some favorite spots which he quite enjoyed.
      The bottom line – Colin is not hard to “catch”, and he was not hard to catch on this day either, but he will not interact in the process. What I mean by that is if a person walks out to his field and puts the rope around his neck and pulls his head up, he will stand there and comply with it all. But when asked to lift his head and acknowledge the person approaching him, he will choose to walk off.
      The goal of this session with Colin was connection, that when approached, the person can stand back, ask him to engage and connect, by lifting his head, looking over, and even moving towards.
      While the short clips in this interview may not have shown it, Sarah moved very slowly through the levels of pressure, given the obvious fact that Colin was confined to an acre size paddock, he had the maximum amount of choice for how to respond that he could have been given in that situation. He was never once chased – when he did run the pressure didn’t go away, but every time he would go off in walk, trot, or even a gallop it was clearly his idea to run away, not a behavior out of feeling threatened or chased.
      The outcome? The past week since this session with Sarah, Colin has been more interactive when approached in his field, he lifts his head, he walks over, and it requires less time and less pressure to engage him.
      The danger in posting short videos or photos is that they are often misinterpreted or misunderstood without more context. I hope this explanation clears up the rope swinging, and please don’t hesitate to comment if you have more questions!

    1. Hi Linda, that is a great question! The rope swinging is a way of ‘increasing pressure’ when the horse is ignoring the request that is being made for connection.

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  12. This sounds like an interesting approach!
    I would have loved more explanation on the aspect of letting the horses make choices.
    To me, it always seemed logical that I have to look out for the horse, so that he won’t run into trouble in our human world. But I think what is meant, is rather the approach to training: as in different from training in a boss-worker-line relationship.
    I hope this makes any sense…

  13. Interesting video. I liked the explanation of connection … maybe it’s a little different for everyone. I relish the connection I get with my very dominant horse when we are doing liberty work. He adds his own ideas on occasion and enjoys the ‘conversation’ we have about his choice. For example he loves to jump although he’s certainly not built to be a jumper, we usually use small things he really just hops over. I can easily send him over a series of several jumps just by pointing to them in sequence (remember he is not on a lunge line)– but sometimes he wants to go in the other direction i.e my plan was for him to circle right and hop over three little jumps and he decides to circle to the left and go over the jumps that way instead. He thinks it’s quite humorous. I say, “fine — but no treat then” He still feels it’s worth the effort and good fun.

  14. I loved everything about this great interview! After adopting a rescue horse and having him delivered to his now forever home, it took 9 days before he let me halter him. I spent those days just hanging out with him, gazing over the fence with him, talking to him, and rubbing him every once and awhile. Now, a year and a half later, we have this genuine, safe connection like your guests spoke of. I ask instead of tell ~ hoof picking: “May I have a foot, please? Thank you!” I wouldn’t want to treat my sweet friend any other way.

    1. That is amazing – thank you so much for sharing your story 🙂

      -Julia, CRK Training Community Manager

  15. Hi, Callie
    As you might recall, I have asked you quite elementary questions in the past, and you have responded with very important bits of info which I use every day. Perhaps because I am a “geezer”, rather than someone quite younger, I am much more philosophical about horses in general. This entire “thread” is somewhat corrupted by the repetition of your reply to the original question about roping. It looks like you are answering every comment with a repeat of your original reply, verbatim. Better might be a simple reply of “see the above”, rather than the repeats. Somewhat in the same line of thought (of the people who find roping troublesome) is my perpetual quandary (upon meeting a horse I will trail-ride) that the horse is by nature a prey animal, wishing by instinct to protect itself. I like to make friends with every horse I ride, in spite of the fact that I will command the same animal to do exactly what I want it to do.
    Ray G., always looking to you for advice

  16. Hi Callie,
    I loved this video. Can you comment on an ethical dilemma that I have. I don’t own horses. I have spent years in pastures around horses, just spending time with them, basically never demanding anything of them. Now I have started taking some riding lessons. I want to approach a horse and ask their permission to ride them, (and would in any other environment). In a riding class I am assigned a horse, told to go get it from the paddock, bring it in, and tack it up. There is no time for me to take an hour getting it. There is no expectation that I would ever ask its permission and potentially refuse to ride it if the horse says no. I can walk up to a horse and ask if they would allow me to ride them, and get an answer. I expect that if I told the owner that the horse said no to me, and refused to let me ride it they would think I am a nutcase. So in my few riding lessons I have been afraid to ask the horse in case they say no. What would I do, try to convince the owner that the horse talked to me? Try to convince the owner to assign me a different horse? So I have tacked up the horse I have been assigned. Then I ride it. I feel guilty for not giving it a choice. Then I ask for a trot and some horses will and some horses won’t. I’m told to “make him do it”, and that I am just “too passive”. It’s not passivity, it’s guilt. I understand the dynamics going on inside me and my dilemma, but I haven’t tried to explain this to my teacher in the middle of a class. The teacher just expects the students to follow her schedule, ride the horse they are assigned and to make it comply. Every horse I have been on has taught me something different. It’s amazing that the right horse just seems to be the one I need on that particular day. Still there is a nagging guilt feeling for not asking its permission. The ones that are less cooperative are likely because the answer would have been no had I asked. Any suggestions on how to get past this?

    1. Randy, is it an option for you to arrive earlier to spend the additional time you are looking for with your lesson horse?

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

      1. Not really. They’re not private lessons. It’s typically a different horse each time. I show up in the morning, am assigned a horse and told to be ready in 30 minutes. In the afternoon it will be a different horse, then another one the next morning, a different one that afternoon, and again the next morning, etc. I’m also not sure how just getting extra time with one before the lesson relates to my question, or solves my dilemma.

        1. Randy, is the dilemma about feeling uncomfortable about asking your lesson horse for things when you get a ‘no’? My idea behind the additional time was that you could spend some time being around the horse without asking for anything.

          -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

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