Is This a good start to Liberty Horsemanship?
I have a coming 2 year old who I ave been working with (also getting tips from other horse trainers) and I really would like to learn some liberty horsemanship later on in our future. What we can do already is:
- back up without force (and when I walk backwards beside her)
- comes to the gate when I call her
- follow me around when I walk around (without lead rope or halter)
Is this a good start? And what else could I do?
I am probably not the best one to answer this question as I quite see the point of liberty work. I guess it looks nice and all but really my horse comes when called out at pasture so I don't quite see the point. I can free lunge my horses in those rare moments when I have needed and had the space to. I also don't see the difference between liberty work and free lunging. So maybe those experts can teach me the difference.
That said liberty work seems to be the result of a strong horse/human bond and the ability to read your horses cues. Which you get through time and consistency. I think if this is the mare that is rearing on occasion that liberty work might muddle the waters. I would honestly get that behavior so its under control before I worried about liberty work. A lot of the foundation stuff is the basis of liberty and the rest comes from consistent training. I think a lot of liberty work could make for a bad riding horse. I see horses go into an arena for "at liberty displays" and they run around like maniacs. I think to myself "gosh thats a pretty horse and sweet jesus in the garden I am glad I don't have to ride it". I worry about how they react under-saddle. Are you accidentally teaching the horse that going into an arena means running around like mad? My impression of at liberty work is that is a fine line, a dance, between control and out of control. I would root myself deeply in control before I started to dance. Work on those basics and getting to know your horse and then if liberty work springs from that great, but its not something I would focus on now.
I don't want to focus on it for a while yet, I need to focus on breaking her and riding her for a few years.
Also, I have heard from horse trainers and showers in my area that if you have a horse that rears or lays down when unwanted, you can turn it into something that isn't bad. Teach them to rear or lay down on command and they will put all of that 'bad behaviour' and turn it into something good.
Also, I have laid my horse down with no problem, and she still lets my pick up her feet without trying to lay down.
I understand the idea behind the training a bad behavior into a good one; however, I am not convinced that it works all the time. I have seen mixed results with dogs and figured a horse is going to have about the same success rate. Its not a big deal if you have a dog that barks all the time because your speak cue is not quite connecting its another to have a horse that rears because not making the cue connection. Rearing can be very self rewarding and a way for horses to get out of work, and I think it can be a complex issue.
I also know that your horse at almost 2 is going to go through a snotty phase or two before it turns 4. Which is something to consider when training any trick behaviors. You need to have a plan for how you are going to teach a behavior and how you are going to correct that behavior. What happens if the horse offers a rear at the wrong time and without a cue?
I sort of miss the connection between laying a horse down and picking up its feet. I am assuming you used picking up its feet a cue to lay down. Which if done once would not necessarily cause the behavior. A trained behavior is one you do often. Ie. its the difference between asking the horse to lay down by picking up its feet once and asking a horse to lay down by pick up its feet every day for 2 months and then one day asking the horse to just let you pick up its feet.
Please don't teach your horse to rear up as a "trick". My friend's teenage cousin taught her horse to rear up on command despite several warnings not to because it was dangerous. But still she did it when no one was around. Well one day when riding her horse reared with her but this time he fell backwards on her. She fractured her back, broke her pelvis and one of her legs. And as horrible as that was thank god she didn't end up paralyzed or killed. So I hope the liberty training isn't you wanting to teach her that by "making a bad behavior good". But as far as the following without the lead and coming when called those are great things to teach I do the same with my horses. I think if your wanting to teach your horse something training wise I'd immediately get started on teaching her not to rear. The older they get the harder it is to break trust me I know from personal experience. When she rears move her feet, I'd be keeping a whip handy to break that problem. Be safe. I hope I'm not coming off mean I just don't want you getting hurt. Keep learning you sound like you've taught her a lot. Just make sure you teach her things that make her safer to be around not worse. :-)
One that will stand you in good stead is to teach her to stand, first while you circle her while touching her, then graduate farther and farther away until you can walk 50' and return without her moving her feet. I offered a treat when I first circled without him moving. It provided great motivation to stand still. Within about 20 min and half a dozen treats I could make huge circles around him and his feet remained glued to the ground. To start stand in front, a little to her left side and hold your left hand like a stop sign. If she starts to come to you move toward her and press on her nose then with hand up ask her to "stand". Even if you go just past her shoulder turn away and come back to where you started and offer the reward. Don't go an farther along her side until she is willing to stand still. Take you time. It may have to be in small increments but somewhere along the line she'll put them all together and you'll think she's wonderful and smart. Which she is.
Thanks, I am not planning on teaching her to rear on command. But What I do what to teach her is to bow, or lay down so it is easier to get up on her bareback, in the future, when she is broke.
Ok good those are much safer things to teach your horse.
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I was also thinking about teaching her to smile and small tricks like that!
Ive just done a Clinic with Carlos Tabernaberri. His idea is that if the horse comes to you in a paddock, follows you while no tools being used eg halter, anytime your horse want to be with you without the addition of any tool, the the horse is at liberty, it can do what it wants but chooses to be with you instead. So I would say you are on the right track and doing great. Cant help you on the training of all those liberty moves that are awesome to watch( i would have no idea LOL) but sounds like you have the right start and bond with your horse for you both to do great, I love to watch people working a horse at liberty , especially when it looks like a dance. To me it shows the greatest bond and trust between horse and human.
However i myself would never teach my own horse to rear ect because I personally dont know enough about it. I think for trainers who teach their horses advanced liberty work for their demonstrations and stuff, its great to watch but you would need to know your stuff 100% because other wise it can become dangerous, you may accidently give the horse the wrong cue at the wrong time and disaster strikes.
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