I’ve been working with this horse named Liberty……
I’ve mentioned her before but is just about her.
So recapping our experience together, this was a horse that was a Blue ribbon multiple winner in western games before the age of 5. Somehow throughout her illustrious career as a western game horse she ended up with a hole in her tongue and at the kill pen in the back of an auction.
My friend….my awesomeness of awesome big hearted friend Stephanie saw her and rescued her from certain death, taking her in and offering her a home at her luxurious horse haven farm…..seriously, this place has it all. Natural living, big open pasture, free choice shelter, the best medical, natural hoof and other natural perks care including an equine massage therapist who comes regularly, amazing quality feed and a spic and spot barn thanks to Stef and her husbands efforts…a horse couldn’t ask for more. She ended up in the perfect place a horse could ever want.
I met this horse and she concerned me….there is something about her…not only is she beautiful, a grulla with a dark face, but there’s something else, that unexplained look an intelligent being gives you when they are wary of you. BUT even though she gives that look, she would slip behind other horses when humans approached, she would run away if you had a halter. She would not seek out human attention or come up to investigate you if other horses were checking you out.
I worked with her for a long time on approach and even longer on haltering. I can now approach her with a halter in my hand without her running off. She will come up to investigate people now but we are still working on the NO when we come to haltering. I can have the halter in my hand but when I tell her with body language I’m going to put it on, she still turns her head away like “nooooo” I pet her and then I’m allowed put it on, but I want to get the relationship to the point where she doesn’t say no initially. I would love to see her say even just “okay”.
SO, the other day, I decided the other day I would give her more choice and see if that changed things. It did!
I showed her my stick instead of the halter, she wasn’t real keen on it but I was able to loop the string over her neck and asked her to come with me into the outdoor arena. She came very easily.
I was planning on working with my horse and the girl I’m showing the basics to would work with Liberty, so Kiko was already in the arena. We started by moving them around. We would ask for a little and Liberty was giving us more, her tail was strait up in the air and she was trotting and cantering everywhere, even when Kiko was at a walk.
We asked them to come in which they did. Jeni mentioned she was leery of her just bouncing the stick and string up and down the other day so I thought well lets work on that…..but lets give her a choice this time.
We started and she ran away, I just walked after her, by the time I reached her she was huddling in a corner, suspecting to my opinion to get punished. I just started again and threw energy in front of her to get her to realize I wanted her to stay in one place. She seemed interested and confused and then interested again. Everytime she ran, I just walked calmly to where she was and started again until it became a game, then my energy got stronger to let her know she could stay there….and she did!
We were able to move the stick and string around, bounce it off her, slide it over and off her back, even get her to move specific feet by the time we were almost done. Then I threw a tire in the middle of our workplace and got a picture in my mind of her investigating it. Just with energy I asked her to take a sniff. I backed it up with a miniscule wave of the stick with energy pointed behind her right shoulder, She sniffed it.
She felt so awesome in that moment and I think she felt that too. She felt it was her idea based on our conversation and she felt happy.
That was the end of our session, we told her good girl and Jeni, took over just doing simple things, following what I showed her, she was done very quickly and Jeni, Stef and I struck up a conversation.
That’s when the magic really happened. This horse who hasn’t been that interested in people, doesn’t come up for attention or affection blew out, walked up behind Jeni, who is the person she will ultimately be working with and stuck her head out to rest on her shoulder relaxing. Just being a part of us, being a part of the conversation and letting us know we were to be trusted.
What a great day for a horse to tell us so loudly that she liked her time with us and trusted us enough to show us that. That is a huge progression in my mind. We may have many back and forths with this horse considering her past trauma but at least we have approval when she thinks it was worth it. I can’t ask for more. Giving Liberty, liberty really seemed to work.
Jeni and Liberty after doing Liberty with Liberty