This video shows you how to calmly and simply start liberty training with your horse… and then how to build progressively to exercises like liberty lunging, in-hand lateral work, horse agility and freejumping!
Liberty is simply working your horse loose, without ropes or reins. We want our horses to choose to work with us at liberty because it’s clear, fun and rewarding. Positive reinforcement, or clicker training, is a really easy and effective way to do this.
In fact, at Connection Training, we work horses at liberty right from the very start. It’s not an advanced exercise – everyone can do it. The key, as with all good training, is to start with the basics and build progressively from there.
This video shows you the steps to start training at liberty using reward positive reinforcement, getting your horse to stand quietly and follow you when you ask, and then how to progressively build up to more advanced exercises like trot, canter, agility, liberty lunging, liberty jumping and liberty outside the arena.
As always, please let me know if you have any questions or comments below 🙂 ☟
➣The CT Club is an online membership site where you can get access to hundreds of step-by-step training videos on training your horse using positive reinforcement. You can learn and see EXACTLY how to work your horse at liberty, from the foundation exercises right up to the more advanced ones. You can find out more and sign up here. We look forward to seeing you there 🙂
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13 thoughts on “How to Train Your Horse at Liberty | From getting started to lunging and freejumping!”
Thank you for the video. I’ve been working with my horse at liberty for over a year, but only once a week, as until recently he belonged to a riding school where he was used for trails etc. The training went really well – he loves clicker training and is very food motivated. We eventually progressed to increasing the pace and doing a little bit of trotting, which he really initiated (I could see he was keen and so I cued it). At first it was great, but then he started becoming over-aroused and when I swapped from one side to the other started backing up into me as though he was thinking about kicking out😬. I have pretty much been too afraid to let him trot since and have gone right back in my training to basics and trying to keep everything VERY low key. I have been starting each session with your enrichment/bonding exercise of finding food together before training and this calmed things down tremendously. But I’m finding now with any movement training, even walking, he is getting quite aroused (dropping) and I am feeling a little anxious – although I’m really trying to breathe and stay calm. Over the last 2 months he has barely been ridden (just by me once or twice a week) and most of his horse friends have been re-homed (the school has closed and most people have not had access to the horses during lock down). I’m wondering if all the changes have made him feel a bit stressed or whether lack of exercise that he is used to means he gets far more excited/frustrated in training. He’s great under saddle although also a little too enthusiastic at times and I reinforce lots of calm walking and stopping on cue. I’m wondering if you have any extra tips on avoiding over arousal during walking at liberty and how I build my confidence to eventually allow a trot at liberty again? We do targeting, coming to a hand target, playing soccer (he loves this and it seems to calm him), front feet on platform, picking up a toy and he’s great. It’s as soon as we walk together that he starts getting super excited. Or maybe I’m just over sensitive now!
Hi Taryn, thanks for your comment. It sounds like your horse’s life has gone from very full to pretty quiet and I suspect that some of his issues with getting too excited or over-aroused are due to this. Movement will probably help him as it’ll give him some exercise and allow him to use some of that energy. Especially if his exercise has reduced yet he’s quite fit, he’ll have lots of excess energy and he might not be getting so much chance to play in the field with other horses if his play buddies have been moved, too. However, I totally understand your anxiety, so the best thing to do will be to train him in protected contact when you’re working on movement. Check out this blog on using the Around a Round Pen technique as I think it’ll be the perfect solution for you: https://connectiontraining.com/around-a-round-pen-for-leading-and-lunging/ You might find that he’s quite high energy at the start of the session but starts to settle after 10 mins or so of movement. You can work on transitions and add in poles and objects, too, to keep him focused and interested. Once you feel confident and he’s calm with the round pen, you can gradually start to do move movement work without it.
I’d love to try this.
Hi Colleen, glad it inspired you, hope the get the chance to give liberty a go. Just start small and build from there 🙂
Hi I was wondering if clicker training could help my ma re who just stops randomly while we are out hacking I wouldn’t say she is spooking she just stops , or is nappy , I’m not sure what exercises I could do with her on the ground that could be transferred , once I’m in the saddle , Thank you
Hi Nicola, thanks for your comment. It’s hard to say what’s causing the stopping and therefore a bit tricky to suggest solutions. I assume you’ve ruled out pain, but if you haven’t yet, get a good check up by a body worker, vet, saddle fitter etc to make sure that’s not the reason. If it’s a training problem, then yes clicker training will help. Perhaps she is anxious, but is the kind of horse who stops and shuts down rather than spooks, in which case there are plenty of exercises to help build her confidence. Maybe she’s not as clear on the ridden cues as you think, so you can work on refining those aids with the help of the clarity from the clicker to help her become clear and responsive. Maybe she’s lacking motivation, so using rewards will certainly help to improve that. So, yes is the answer but I’m not sure how exactly! I hope that gives you a few ideas of what to look for but if you join the CT Club, we can take a look at a video or help you to gather some more info so that you can work out the best training plan to help her 🙂
Hi, thanks for this video. I dont have an arena, I work with my horses I their paddock. I’ve had some success with liberty with them but only after starting on line and then take it off. Is that the way to go if you have no arena?
Hi Tamar, no problem if you don’t have an arena, you can certainly do all this in the paddock. It can be a little harder because you’re competing with the grass, but if you’re using good rewards and start with the basics and build from there, you’ll be fine. I didn’t have an arena for a long time and many of my clients don’t either, so it’s really not a problem! You can help make it easier by fencing off a smaller area to work in using temporary fencing like electric poles and tape to make a work area and limit the space should your horse disconnect during training. Your approach of teaching things with the rope on and then removing it is also fine. I hope that helps, keep it up! 🙂
Just wondering how you stop your horse from trying to bite you when you are constantly hand feeding them tidbits. Mine are always trying to get that tidbit and tend to nip at your hand. ????
Hi Margaret, this is all in getting the basics right! Check out these videos on getting started. It’s a series of 3 videos that gives you an overview on how I start Connection Training to ensure the horse is calm and polite right from the start. Here’s part 1: https://connectiontraining.com/how-to-start-clicker-training-your-horse-part-1/
Part 2: https://connectiontraining.com/how-to-start-clicker-training-part-2-stand-quietly-together/
and Part 3: https://connectiontraining.com/how-to-start-clicker-training-part-3-walk-together/
Thanks for producing the inspiring video. I am late to equine care but find it a fascinating area.
Thanks for your comment and glad you enjoyed it! Yes, horses are endlessly fascinating – there is just so much to learn and try and every horse is different. A lifetime of learning!!
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