Horses at Liberty Training Clinic: Sharing Horse Sense

Sunday’s Horses at Liberty Clinic attracted some really good horse people here in New Mexico. Our attendees showed excellent timing and feel for the work which helped the horses learn faster.

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We had some “moments of greatness” in the clinic. One of our continuing student horses made some huge breakthroughs to walking side by side and even leading from behind which had previously been impossible for her. She managed to accomplish these even with a breeding stallion not far from our work arena. Even though she was enamored, she still managed to keep her attention mostly on her handler.Screen Shot 2013-05-27 at 7.59.46 PM

We can give the horse space when their attention goes off to something really exciting like a love interest, and see if they will come back to us. That space will provide an enormous payback in terms of trust in later work.

Even without a horse knowing the first foundation, sitting together, we can build a foundation in a short space of time. Sharing time with your horse, reading a book, or writing, can often create a lovely comfortable feeling that will carry over into other work you do with him.

I really believe that if you spend enough time around horses, you may already be doing some of the foundational work just by being in their company. It helps to explain why in one day or less, we can take a horse who hasn’t been exposed to them at all and get him to the point of side by side walking.

Screen Shot 2013-05-27 at 8.13.49 PMWe had one gelding who had never done the Foundation work, who came in to the arena more interested in the surrounding horses than the people. He got so he could focus his attention and do some side by side walking; and actually accomplished all but one of the Foundations. This gelding would be helped by more space sharing with his owner. The payback can be more than you could ever imagine in terms of gaining your horse’s attention and having a willing partner.

Patches and Jazzmine also helped teach the clinic, showing off their unique knowledge of the Foundations. Patches surprises me with what a ham he can be at times, and Jazzie is a good example of what can be done with a bossy lead mare after almost six months of foundational training.Screen Shot 2013-05-27 at 6.43.01 PM

In a clinic setting, horses can teach other horses. Just as in a herd, horses learn from each other, and support each other physically and psychically. They watch the clinic and learn how to do a foundation really well from watching one of their classmates. One of my mares loves to watch the geldings and then upstage them with a “performance.” I like this as it makes her a very good performance horse, really eager to do what is asked of her.

We worked with these important areas:

  • Building in the pause and giving space.
  • Building a bond.
  • Energy for both horse and human.
  • Timing and feel.

Screen Shot 2013-05-27 at 8.14.56 PMSo much of what we do in practice is experimentation with the foundations themselves, to see what the horse wants to and can do. As the horse and owner become more proficient moving backwards and forwards through the foundations fluidly, they can add on more activities and the trust developed at liberty will translate to the saddle and other ground work. I encourage students to get creative with the foundations, feel what works and doesn’t work. This will become easier the more you do them and as the concept grows deeper in you.

To reinforce what you learn in one of my clinics, it’s helpful to do the foundations your horse can do easily a couple of times a week, and more often if you can manage it. Also the energetic work that we went over that we do at the start of the clinic is useful for checking in with yourself to make sure you are in your “horse sense” rather than your human sense. Fortunately, horses aren’t looking at the clock to figure out how much time you have spent with each of them, so you can spent as little as fifteen minutes and effect a substantial change in relationship.

I’m looking forward to the August clinic at 4 Winds Equestrian Center in Estancia, New Mexico where we will have an entire weekend to explore the foundations and where the horses might most naturally go, with some new and continuing horses and people. Please join us!

May 1 Day Horses at Liberty Clinic Video

Bodywork (Ortho-Bionomy, Equine Positional Release/Equine Ortho-Bionomy): private sessions,  tutorials, phone consultations, distance healing and gift certificates

Liberty Training: clinics, workshops, private sessions, tutorials, consultations: by appointment:  505.501.2478 or emailing

The upcoming Horses at Liberty Weekend Clinic will be held August 3-4 in Estancia, New Mexico. Cost is $300 Early Bird Discount if you sign up before July 10. After that date the cost will be $350. Horses at Liberty Foundation Training. Contact me if interested!



One thought on “Horses at Liberty Training Clinic: Sharing Horse Sense

  1. Thanks for this interesting post, Susan. It’s so good to see Jazzmine turning into a ‘school horse’. 🙂

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