For the love of ponies!

This past weekend I had the opportunity to work with some ponies, all with different personalities and levels of training. While they are really no different than horses, they are often treated differently and are in some cases so small that adults can’t get in the saddle, which may mean they might lack some basic training.

Rose, the feisty pony, comes into relationship.
Rose, the feisty pony, comes into relationship.

There are situations where people think children can ride them just because they’re small, yet the pony hasn’t been trained and can turn out spoiled or badly behaved. Also, ponies tend to be passed around from family to family as children outgrow them. Although this is a nice way to have ponies continue their usefulness, the pony has to adapt to different ways of handling, feed and energetic levels. It’s much like being a foster child in a way. They may know after awhile that their usefulness is limited, that their time with a given family is not permanent.

In our recent clinic, all three of the ponies were rescues.

We had the following personalities:

Jasmine, the business-like pony, a can-do girl.
Jasmine, the business-like pony, a can-do girl.

Jasmine is a pretty pinto pony who had just weaned her foal and was ready to begin doing work. Her recent training has been in liberty and she has just decided she has “arrived.” She could become bossy if not handled right, but she really is a little mare with a mission. The first day she was very agreeable and wanted to do everything asked in her lesson. The second day, she had become more bold, somewhat bossy, and needed more direction. What I always say is that you will get a horse with an opinion when doing this work. She wants a job and will do it well. She is an important addition to any herd!

Jasmine walking purposefully with her owner, Karen Corn.
Jasmine walking purposefully with her owner, Karen Corn.
Rose wanting to do things on her terms.
Rose wanting to do things on her terms.

Rose, a pretty pinto pony mare, has been known in the past to charge at people. She comes across with an air of defiance. You could tell she didn’t think much of anything we had to offer, didn’t want to engage. But in the clinic setting, we watched this little pony’s whole demeanor change. She became soft, willing, engaged, and curious. She became capable of a relationship. In the past, she had been prevented from doing serious damage with Liberty Foundations work. Now she can go to work as a nice pony. We got her to the point of being able to stand and wait while I walked all the way around her, both ways, and then gave her a treat. Others could work with her too, and she got better and better.

Rose learns "Whoa and Wait" while I go get her a treat. What a change!
Rose learns “Whoa and Wait” while I go get her a treat. What a change!
Starwyn, the brave heart.
Starwyn, the brave heart.

Starwyn is a Welsh pony mare who has been abused in the past and is painfully shy. She is not one who wants to come into the clinic setting every time, but she worked with two of us.  She is a very brave pony who has had a lot of Liberty Foundations, and picks carefully who she will work with. She will teach people that every move is important, every blink of an eyelash moves the universe.

Amber, the terrified pony who could not engage with humans.
Amber, the once-terrified pony who could not engage with humans.

A month ago I wrote about Amber (Amber’s story), another pony mare in a clinic who became so frightened she would react suddenly to being hitched up to a cart, flipping over it and injuring herself. She was also deeply bonded to her mini friend, Cocoa, and could not bear to be away from him. When the trauma is so deep and so reactive, all real activity of trying to “get the pony to do something” has to stop and with Liberty Foundations, we go back to the basics. This pony had trouble engaging with humans. What we do is go to no expectations. We worked with the pony and mini together, until Amber was comfortable being separated from her frieind. From no expectations we can gradually add some practices that will not get the pony into trouble, but will enhance her curiosity and ability to engage with people. From there, perhaps she will be able to do more activities later on, as the fear falls away and is not driving her every move. She is a pony who isn’t a safe mount for a child, until the flight reflex gets under control. She is too small for most adults to ride. So the best bet is to give her a rich base in Liberty Foundations so that she can be happy and have good relationships with humans.

Tremendous strides were made with these little ones with Liberty Foundations. Clearly, adults can do a lot to teach ponies on the ground, without having to get into the saddle if the pony is too small for the adult. These were small ponies that could be ridden by small children eventually. They can also pull carts. Some may enjoy doing tricks or visiting children in hospitals and other centers. Some ponies are much bigger and can be ridden in dressage and other competitions.


(copyright: Susan Smith, OrthoHorse)

Services: Bodywork (Ortho-Bionomy for people, Equine Ortho-Bionomy): private sessions,  tutorials, phone consultations, distance healing communication and gift certificates

Liberty Coaching: clinics, mini-clinics, workshops, private and semi-private sessions, tutorials, consultations: by appointment:  505.501.2478 or emailing Spring Lessons – semi-private, private and small group sessions. Scheduling now. Contact me for details.

If you want to host a clinic in your area, contact me to make arrangements. Prices will vary according to location and travel. 505-501-2478

I conducted a free Liberty Coaching Call on March 12. If you did not have a chance to listen, here is the link:

On the schedule for 2014:

May 3 Arrowhead Ranch, One-Day Liberty Horsemanship Clinic – 9 – 4:30 p.m. Contact Susan Smith for details.


June 14th Location TBA, Liberty Transitions – From Liberty to OnLine and Beyond. How to take what you have learned at liberty and translate it to line work. 9 – 4:30 p.m. For ongoing students of Liberty Foundations. Contact Susan Smith for details.

Check out this from Ruella Yates, my hostess and co-clinician at SHR in April – 10 Liberty Tips from Spirit Horse Ranch:

Ruella Yates, who is the marvel behind the HorseConscious Facebook page, has just released a brand new ebook called: “10 Liberty Tips From Spirit Horse Ranch” based upon her Liberty Foundations teachings.

What’s great about the book is that it’s packed full of really valuable advice yet very easy to consume and put into practice. I highly recommend you snag yourself a copy here:


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