My horse likes my trainer better than me

Bottom line:  you want your horse to like the trainer. When the horse doesn’t like the trainer you’ve got a real problem, because clearly something is going on that shouldn’t be. Too much pressure is being applied, most likely.

Regalo's owner wanted him to be able to work with other people.
Regalo’s owner wanted him to be able to work with other people.

The way horses respond to Liberty Foundation work is going to always be different. The one thing you’re going to see in common is that a trainer beginning this work may ask different things of the horse than she’s experienced in the past. Also as trainers, we “start” the horse with what we want her to think about and get some Foundational work on her, then have the owner work with her in order to get their energy right with the horse.

Working with the energetic connection with Glorya and Regalo.
Working with the energetic connection with Glorya and Regalo.

Like many training techniques, it’s important for the owner to know how to do the work, otherwise once the horse goes home, he will not have any way to access the new information. It’s a study for both horse and owner. It’s not like taking your car to the mechanic and having the car fixed, then you just drive it away. The horse needs an owner who is informed and who has new awareness of her energy and how to move her body in ways that will influence the horse. These are all subtle changes that may seem like nothing. In a clinic, it may appear easy because it happens there every time.

When you get home, the horse may not respond to you. You think you’re doing everything you did in the clinic. So then we need to look at your energy. You might be expecting the same results, and expecting anything is going to be a problem. The horse might be ready to give you something different, not what you learned at the clinic.

Regalo learns to make connections with others.
Regalo learns to make connections with others.

But you’re not prepared to do that. You need more work in this area. It takes awhile to learn to shift your energy back and forth – front to back, side to side, up/down and most importantly, centered. I do it all the time, and I still makes mistakes, but I know I’ve made a mistake almost immediately because the horse lets me know it, and I know how to read the horse’s reaction.

The goal of the work is not to get the horse so it prefers the trainer, otherwise all is lost. The goal is to teach you how to do it yourself on a highly energetic level, which is probably not how you’ve been taught any other type of horse training, since no other trainings do this type of in-depth focus on the human energetic contribution.

Glorya with Regalo
Glorya with Regalo

In a recent clinic, Glorya wanted her gelding Regalo to be able to work with others. He was a fearful horse who seemed not to enjoy life. In the course of the clinic, Regalo began to take pleasure in working with different people. Thanks to Glorya’s insight, he got what he came for – a larger community to interact with, and he began to enjoy himself.

All the jealous emotions that come up around who the horse prefers are very natural. I’ve felt this myself when my horses have especially liked someone besides me. But when I see how much more magnanimous my horse becomes because her world is bigger and populated by wonderful people, it makes me realize how important it is for her and for me to share ourselves. The horse who has a community of people he can relate to is far better off than one who can only relate to one human. The best bet is to populate his world with like-minded individuals — those who are going to gently correct or better yet, just listen to what the horse has to say about a given activity. This in no way diminishes your relationship with your own horse, in fact, it makes it grow deeper and stronger.

Regalo with Pia
Regalo with Pia

Years ago, I used to not want anyone else to ride my horse. In terms of riding, it’s important to be cautious about who rides your horse, especially if you have a very sensitive horse. But I also began to feel that wasn’t fair to her because then she would not experience other people, and if something happened to me, the adjustment to other riders would be difficult for her. She was not a horse that just “anyone” could get on, so the person who rode her would have to appreciate who she was and know how to ride well.

My own beloved Zuzka
My own beloved Zuzka

Since then, her world has expanded to include others. With liberty work we can expand the scope for horses more than we can for riding, because we are doing it on the ground and no one needs to have the skill of riding to be able to be good at it.

Even if your horse is only handled by you, working with others is valuable because you might need other people to work with him if you become ill or injured, or he needs to go to a new home. This is why the teaching of the Foundations is so important to a horse, and ultimately, the community, so that we can have more people handling horses in a quieter, gentler way.

The clinic setting is an ideal way to get a lot of information on how to do the work with several different types of horses, and to feel what is needed from you. You’ll see how the horse benefits and gets better with each person who works with him. Each person’s individual energy helps the horse find different parts of himself and broadens his ability to relate to humans.

In a way, just as “it takes a village” to raise a child, it can “take a village” of like-minded individuals to raise a horse. We are emulating a herd, we are his human herd, and he benefits from that expanse of people and their creativity, growing his heart to accept different energies and gifts. It expands our humanity too, because we learn how to listen and watch and wait, accept other members of the herd, very valuable horse qualities that should be ours as well.


(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:

June 14th – Trail Riding Clinic

Where: Headquarters Well, Caja Del Rio, Santa Fe

Time: 9 a.m.-noon
Limited to 4 riders.
Cost: $75

Do you have questions or difficulties riding on the trail with your horse? What would you like to know to make your ride more enjoyable?

Trail riding is not just about “controlling” your horse, it is about establishing a “centaur relationship” that can carry you through all kinds of challenges.

Come learn from a seasoned endurance rider the following tips:

  • Trail etiquette
  •  How to be safe
  • How to get your horse ready for a trail ride
  • What to bring with you
  • Training

When we ask a horse to listen to us when we’re on a trail with other horses, we’re asking her to engage with us instead of with the other horses and the distractions that can occur on the trail. In this way, trail riding exposes what is not working in the arena and it exposes where your relationship with your horse needs strengthening. Find out some similarities between liberty training and trail riding.

In this clinic we will talk first about preparation and then work on some ways to manage situations on the trail, while in the saddle. We will take a short trail ride.

• Snacks
• Water for you and your horse
• Hay if you want it
• Helmet
• Tack (saddle & some sort of horse headgear required)

This clinic is full but there is a waiting list. Please get on it! Contact me for enrollment & liability forms and Payment information. PayPal & checks accepted.

Combining cumulative knowledge from over 18 years of endurance riding, Liberty Horsemanship and Ortho-Bionomy bodywork practice, Susan Smith brings a unique perspective to getting a horse and rider ready for the trail – in mind, body and spirit.

Liberty Foundation work is destined to deepen your trail experience.

Contact Susan Smith@ or 505-501-2478.

September 27-28 – Spirit Horse Ranch Two-Day Liberty Foundations Clinic, Oklahoma City, OklahomaEngaging the Hearts and Minds of Horses. Susan Smith and Ruella Yates, co-teaching. Contact me or Ruella at 405-771-4274 (



3 thoughts on “My horse likes my trainer better than me

  1. Beautiful writing about two wonderful horses, and how a community of gentle, quiet people can bring them joy. Thanks, Susan!
    Ruella Yates
    Liberty Foundations
    Spirit Horse Ranch

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