One of the great things about 2020 for me (focusing on the bright side!) was being able to stay home and spend more time with my own horses. One dream I’ve always had is to be able to explore and play with my horses at liberty in the big wide world.
We’ve always done tons of liberty work at home, but within the safety of an arena or field. It takes a lot more trust and training to take off the ropes out and about.
This year, I began training for and working my horses at liberty away from home.
These were my training steps:
1. Work at liberty in a safe environment at home, especially focusing on behaviours such as Stand Together, Walk Together and Recall. I train using positive reinforcement, or clicker training, which makes liberty work really easy right from the start.
2. Take my horses out to different environments with the safety of a rope on. I’ve been walking and riding my horses out for years, so they are pretty experienced and confident in different places.
3. I chose the right time and place to start taking off the ropes. I did this in a relatively safe environment first, such as deep in the woods away from the roads, and I always chose a time when my horses were already calm and connected. This helped to set us all up for success and begin to trust each other at liberty in different places. To start with, I’d just unclip the rope for a few minutes and practice some easy behaviours like walking next to me and ‘stay’, with a really high rate of reinforcement. Then we’d continue on with the rope on.
4. As we practiced, I started to leave the rope off for longer durations and work them at liberty in more challenging environments. I then started to ask for more challenging behaviours like trot, canter, recall from a distance and so on, where they were more likely to disconnect than at walk. But, because we’d done all the prep at home and then gradually introduced it out and about, it all went very smoothly. I then started to ride bridleless out and about, too.
This is still early days for this work and I’m really looking forward to developing it this coming year!
Wishing you all the best for a fantastic, connected and horsey 2021, too!
➣ If you’d like to find out more about my positive reinforcement horse training approach (including a video showing my training steps to work up to liberty out and about) and learn how to clicker train your horse this way, please check out the Connection Training Club. 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 I train my horses and how to train yours using rewards, from starting off with a fantastic foundation to effective and practical techniques for despooking, loading, riding and more. You can find out more and sign up here. We look forward to seeing you there 🙂
➤ You can also find out more in the #1 bestselling Connection Training BOOK 📖 Get it on Amazon (search for ‘Connection Training’) or download Chapter 1 free here for a preview 👀
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