In the big pasture of life

Yesterday my mare Zuzka was the last to come back in from the pasture. The two boys came in willingly as they knew it was feeding time. She knew this too, but she loves grazing more than anything, even dinner.



IMG_1978When I came back out to the pasture from taking the last gelding in, she walked toward me and I thought she wanted to come in, but no, she wanted me to walk with her. The horses did not engage in the customary calling out to each other as they usually do, “it’s dinner!” “Come on in!” I walked up the slight hill with her along the fenceline and then she galloped off, up toward some colts that are on the other side of the fence.

I don’t worry about my horse leaving me like that. She feels a call to somewhere else, not right with me at that moment. She is free to go. I know that I can walk up and she will rejoin me. If our other horses are out there with her, she will round them up for me and help bring them in.

The horses love to visit the young colts if they have enough free time out there. I walked up to where she was grazing, in boots that weren’t really intended for such a hike, and she was perfectly willing to come back with me. I had the distinct feeling that because it was such a beautiful evening, with the sun turning the land and air gold, that she had the right idea. Our evenings are getting shorter, it was five o’clock, and soon it will be dark and cold at five. We won’t have moments like this anymore.

I don’t know if horses predict the future as we do, or know the summer and winter, light and dark, as we do, but I suspect they have some measure of it. I was filled with the sense of this moment, this was a moment we needed to take advantage of. If I was late for something, it didn’t matter. I was spending these moments walking with or behind Zuzka, stopped to snatch grass with her, just being together.

I’ve noticed that my time doing liberty with her is mostly spent in the big pasture, not in an arena. The preliminary liberty work was done in a smaller space, but we soon moved out to the 750-acre pasture. Of all my horses, she is the most wild at heart. This is what feeds her. Sometimes in winter when there are no grasses out there, we go and stand and breathe together, look off at the horizon together. Sometimes I put food out there for her to find.IMG_1979 I do this with the others too, but there is something different about the way Zuzka and I connect in the pasture.

When I get busy and don’t spend the time needed with her, she can become remote. When we spend time together in the pasture, afterwards she greets me joyfully, seeks connection.

Since I had been gone several days teaching other horses and people, I think she wanted to extend the time in the pasture for as long as it would last. She wasn’t ready to come in when we reached the gate, so we passed the gate and went up another hill. By walking beside her, mirroring, she came into connection and turned with me to go back down to the gate where I could slip a halter on her.

This certainly doesn’t work if you’re going to be late for a board meeting or something, but it does wonders if you can carve out the time – horse time – and just be there.

IMG_1604This mare, now 22, has taught me the most about horse herd behavior, because her wild ways are mostly intact. She loves to be out on the trail or on pasture, and will do just about anything in an arena, but it’s not her great love. Knowing this about her brings me to know what is important to a lot of horses.

When I enter the field with her, go through that gate I feel an opening in my whole being and I feel she feels it too. We’re free, there is motion, wonder, freedom out here that has such loose boundaries, we can’t see them from where we stand. I maybe feel a bit of what she feels – the openness, the possibility of what it would be like to be free again, without fences.


(copyright: Susan Smith, OrthoHorse)

Services: Bodywork (Ortho-Bionomy for people, Equine Ortho-Bionomy): private sessions,  tutorials, phone consultations, Horse & Rider sessions, 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  Scheduling now. Contact me for details.

I’m now putting together the 2015 Clinic Calendar. Let me know if you want to do a clinic at your location. Prices will vary according to location.

Filling Fast!!!! By popular demand, the last Santa Fe 1-Day Liberty Workshop of 2014 will be held at Arrowhead Ranch November 15, from 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. We will work with the natural tendencies of the horse, honoring her/his need for food, safety, space and community. We also work with establishing our place in “the herd.” Cost: Early Bird payment before November 1st: $150, after November 1st: $175.

Who will benefit from this work?

All horses and humans, but specifically:

  • Horses who have not responded to traditional natural horsesmanship
  • Horses who have been frightened, abused and in other ways traumatized
  • Horses who may be aggressive or too passive in their herd situations
  • Horses who have problems with humans
  • All humans who may be puzzled about relationship with horses and want to deepen their connection.

December 13-14 I will be in DeLand, Florida teaching a Weekend Liberty Clinic. Two spots are available, so please register asap if you want to come!  An OrthoHorse Tutorial as well as private lessons and sessions will be offered on Friday, December 12th.

Book your spot today!

January 27-March 10, 2015Horses at Liberty Online Advanced will continue the instruction for those students who have taken an introductory online or in-person clinic from me.

The work builds on what has been taught in the introductory course with refining movements, body language, knowing what and when to ask for change, celebrating the horse’s gifts of engagement. Cost: $311

Payment for the Santa Fe 1-Day Liberty Workshop and Advanced Online can be made by check, PayPal or credit card. A PayPal button for each of those events is available on the home page of my website,

Susan is a member of the Independent Liberty Trainers Network.



One thought on “In the big pasture of life

  1. This blog touched me deeply, honoring the wild spirit in Zuzska, and in ourselves. Thank you.
    Ruella Yates
    Liberty Foundations
    Spirit Horse Ranch
    Near Oklahoma City

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