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Liberty Work, Part 1 by Alice Trindle


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Alice Trindle’s primary focus is on the principles that aid people in developing a willing partnership with their horse in an atmosphere that is educa- tional and fun. She has a gift of communicating to both humans and their horses and has developed a variety of ways of explaining how, when, why, and where to develop a “feel” for and with the horse.


T & T Horsemanship is dedicated to the belief that the develop- ment of true horsemanship requires dedication of time and understanding. It is an art form, and should not be limited to specifi c disciplines.


Come join Alice for the op- portunity to ride the beautiful country of eastern Oregon. The ranch setting offers a western bunkhouse that sleeps up to 8 people, with safe horse facilities for boarding, along with an indoor and outdoor arena.


Clinic themes include, but are not limited to, Colt Starting, Classical Dressage, Doma Va- quera, Cow Work, and Mountain Trail Riding. Find out more at www.tnthorsemanship.com.


he pursuit of developing a true and willing relationship between a horse and their human is thankfully becoming the founda-


tional goal of many. To connect with another living, breathing, thinking being that has four-legs and is so much larger than us, becomes not only a desire that feeds the mind, but also one that touches the soul. The accomplishment of this type of connection, with no strings or lines attached, in what many call “liberty work,” leads to rewards that are benefi cial to both horse and human. Plus, it’s fun to boot! Over the next four months in a series of articles,


we will explore the What, Why, and How To of liberty work. We will examine what to look for in recognizing a good effort by the horse and how to give reward. Positioning and timing will be key components to accomplish effortless transitions, fi gure eights, half-pass, and even show-off spins! The idea is to set the foundation to inspire you to get out there and try some liberty work exercises, whether you are about to hit the trail, ride a dres- sage pattern, or heading out to gather cattle.


What Exactly is Liberty Work? I defi ne liberty work as any maneuvers performed with a horse that is accomplished without a physical attachment between the horse and human. This includes no halter and lead, or reins, and no seat. Riding bridle-less does not count as liberty work.


often in the lifetime of my relationship with a horse. • Develops “feel” — from the masters of classical dressage such as Nuno Olivera to true horsemanship mentors like Tom Dorrance, the critical component in becoming a horseman is to develop “feel.” The defi nition of this term is elusive because it is so much more than the physical or mechanical under- standing of riding and goes deeper into emotional, mental, even spiritual connections. For many of us it is hard to imagine developing a feel without some- thing physical connecting us and therefore giving us control. However, with liberty work you let go of that human need to “make” something happen, and move towards a place where you set it up to happen. It sounds rather Zen-ish, but by letting go of the physical strings, you actually learn how to infl uence the situation by developing a connection, creating a clear picture, and allowing the horse to fi nd the right answer.


• Creates Muscle Memory that will transfer directly to the saddle — Liberty work requires positioning, timing, balance, clarity, consistency, and good posture. All of these elements are attributes that when applied on the ground, will transfer fl aw- lessly to work under saddle. The added benefi t is that the horse also becomes habitual about reading your body language, creating muscle memory for him that is familiar when you are in the saddle. Liberty work causes you to utilize a “Horseman’s Protocol” of breathing, picturing, positioning, and allowing, otherwise it will not work!


Why Should I Consider Liberty Work? For many of us, working our horse at liberty may


only have been applied in the round pen when we were just starting the horse, and as soon as we were on board, the liberty work disappeared. That is too bad, as the benefi ts to working with no strings attached goes far beyond colt starting. Here are a few of the attributes that lead me to include liberty work quite


28 May 2012 The Northwest Horse Source


• It’s fun and rewarding. I recently had the amazing opportunity to see Cavalia, which is a true study in horse-human relationships, and the utilization of liberty work. It was inspirational to see six horses traveling around an imaginary round pen in columns of two, under the impercep- tible direction of their human companion on the ground. How fun could it be to have that type of connection and bond with your horse! As we move forward in this series, I will give


you specifi c exercises to achieve fun liberty work. For now, I recommend looking at some back articles regarding liberty work that can be found online at www.tnthorsemanship.com/articles and checking out the “Tip for the Ride” video on the subject at www.youtube.com/watch?v=gx3N4W9AB_U See ya next month.


NWHS www.nwhorsesource.com


Trainer’s Corner


Developing a True Connection with Your Horse


PHOTO COURTESY OF ALICE TRINDLE


PHOTO COURTESTY OF ALICE TRINDLE


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