I’ve been interested recently in watching and learning about “liberty” training in horses. I’ve been watching a few clips on YouTube and I felt like they didn’t seem too difficult. I generally round pen or will do ground work with Paisley almost every time before I ride him. I know he is approaching 20 – but this horse responds and performs so much better if he has 10 minutes of ground work before I’m mounted. I do find it interesting how little emphasis is put on ground work with older horses. I’m a converted believer in a better ride if you do ground work first. Even if I’m just planning to bop on a trail I will put him through a little ground work and stretching.
Anyway back to liberty, some of the cues are similar to what I do in the round pen so I figured I’d try and adapt a few of them to the liberty moves with his halter and rope. Poor Paisley didn’t know what hit him. There is a cue asking the horse to turn and follow you by simply stepping backwards. P-Money was very confused. Usually if I’m moving I’m asking to change direction – so that is what he did. So it took about a half an hour before he figured out I just wanted him to walk towards me and not change directions totally. Once he nailed it at the walk we tried at the trot – he was very mad! This is not what this means! It’s so funny to watch him figure out what I’m asking – you can see his mind wheeling around. He grows another hand when he is thinking hard. A few of the times he got so frustrated with me and would change direction and start cantering. Eventually we figured it out together and he was getting it every time. A few days later we tried these cues in the round pen with no halter and wow! He remembered. What a smarty pants.
I just have to say that people who think having an older horse is boring are totally wrong. Learning this new skill is not only fun for me but it is totally blowing his mind too. He is so funny, I love when I suddenly change the rules on him when he thinks he knows what is going on – he is too smart for his own good and always assumes that he knows what I’m going to ask and gets mad when I change it up. He throws a hissy fit but will always comply and try and figure out what I want. I can’t wait to continue learning more with him. Maybe next we will try ground driving or trail challenges. The sky is the limit!