After I had some time to think about it, I think the theme of this past Saturday’s Liberty Foundation Workshop was “horse listening.”
While I’ve spoken about this topic before, we spent a lot of time at the workshop with the idea that we are listening and watching horses to find out what they do and how much time it takes them to come into relationship with one another, and with us.
While we want to train a horse to be “in relationship” with us and accepting of the saddle and bridle, this is probably the farthest thing from the horse’s mind in the beginning. The primary concerns for the horse are food, safety and companionship, but not necessarily the type of companionship that we as people think of. Companionship for the horse is tied into safety.
In a herd, companionship is gained by sheer numbers of like-minded individuals and the rhythms that the herd members engage in hundreds of times a day with each other. This is how we can begin to be part of the herd, in the horse’s mind, even though horses know we aren’t horses. They appreciate our mimicking their rhythms and knowing what they prefer.
The two horses we worked with in the workshop were both rescue horses. We talked about how rescue horses are very seldom listened to. The job of the rescue organization is to get the horse in good physical condition and to train them so they are adoptable. This is their imperative, as they have so many horses to place.
Both horses had originally had trust issues with people, and they exhibited the residue of that somewhat differently.
One of the horses was very timid around people and it was difficult to even get a greeting from him. His own personal “bubble” stretched so far that if you moved even at a distance he would trot away. I found that I needed to either be very still, or to inch up to him as I’ve seen my horses do when they want to join a new herd.
His owner said the following about the workshop: “Like I wrote to a friend of mine, the work is so subtle, you might just miss it. Ya know… things are different around her after that clinic, a little quieter and more peaceful. Not sure if it’s Oliver or me, or both, but everything feels much smoother. Believe it or not I had 2 buckets set up and he was moving off his food to got to the other one very calmly. He did want to
get around the bucket so he’d face me while he ate for the most part, I think, (have to pay more attention next time…) but he did the moving very quietly and did put his head back down to eat more when he got there (a big thing for him with me so “close”). I like what you said about nobody ever listening to him. That’s what I’ve felt since I first saw him. Hopefully he feels like we’re at least trying to listen now. Maybe that’s why he’s quieter… (and braver!)”
So much self-recognition and beauty in this experience! How do we listen when we don’t know what the horse is trying to convey? With this type of work, what the horse needs reveals itself, maybe not immediately, but it will.
Our other horse was Gift, a paint mare we have worked with for the past two years in clinics. She has also had a tough life and we continue to reinforce natural horse rhythms for her to diminish her powerful flight reflex. During this event, she worked with each participant, and grew her ability to make connections. At the end, I was even able to get her to show the class one last thing, in spite of the fact that she was pretty much done. I think it’s important not only to recognize when the horse is finished with an activity but also when they can provide more.
While I say we try not to be goal oriented, it’s hard to not to be. I know I have goals: I’m doing a workshop and I need to have certain things happen so people can learn them. A lot of what we do is adjusted to what the horse can most easily learn at the time. I put the goals aside for the horses who are just learning so they can feel free to interact or not. The horses with some knowledge of what we are up to may be asked to do more because we have extended their understanding to a point where they can expand with us.
(c) Susan Smith
New events added!
Bodywork: (Ortho-Bionomy for people, Equine Ortho-Bionomy, Equine Positional Release (EPR)): private sessions, tutorials, phone consultations, Horse & Rider sessions
Distance Healing Communication
Clinics, mini-clinics, workshops,
Private and semi-private sessions, tutorials
Consultations: by appointment: 505.501.2478 or emailing email@example.com Contact me for details.
Let me know if you want to do a clinic in your area. Prices will vary according to location & travel costs.
Saturday, July 11 – Hang with the Herd – Join me and my herd under the cool canopy of the trees for some real quality time together –Experience herd, honesty, healing. A new Liberty Foundations ½ day workshop for those who want an introduction to the work or to reinvigorate their liberty process. PayPal and credit card payment available.
We will sit in the cool of the trees with the herd during the morning, go work with the horses, then come back to the trees with cold drinks when it gets hot. Excellent herd to liberty experience! Space will be limited. Location TBA. Time: 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. $75. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
September 26-27 – Fall Liberty Weekend in Oklahoma — Susan Smith and Ruella Yates, co-instructors. Contact either of us: email@example.com or ruella@libertyfoundations for further details. Cost: $325.
December 7-11 Sahaja 2015 5-Day Clinic on the island of St. Vincent in the Caribbean – Susan Smith & Stina Herberg. See details:
Susan is a member of the Independent Liberty Trainers Network. libertytrainersnetwork.com/
Associate Instructor, Advanced Practitioner – Ortho-Bionomy & Equine Ortho-Bionomy
Practitioner, Equine Positional Release
Liberty Foundations Coach