The Art of Natural Dressage

Hi from Greg & Lisa
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Author:  Vivid Horses [ Wed Apr 21, 2010 1:12 am ]
Post subject:  Hi from Greg & Lisa

Hey there,

My name's Greg and I live in Alberta, Canada. My wife and I have three horses, and are interested in liberty training. I have watched several movies on training from Natural Horsemanship style like Monty Roberts, and Chris Irwin to liberty based videos by Carolyn Resnick. We are reading Naked Liberty by Carolyn Resnick, and for a while now have been working mostly at liberty with our horses. We became much more interested in working with our horses in a pain-free way after watching The Path of The Horse video several times, and have continued to research.

I have looked through the forum a bit here and like the fact that there are so many great conversations going on about training, activities to do with the horses etc. Two of our horses are very active and sociable, always wanting to hang out with us, but sometimes we don't really know what to do with them, now that we've given up round-pen work, training them to ride etc. We were just going to be starting them, as they are 2 and 3 years old when we found out about this style of training. We are glad that we didn't put them through the traditional colt-starting programs. Our other horse isn't as interested in being with us, so we just give him lots of space...offer him attention, food and stuff, but he often keeps his distance. He does come around for some love now and then though.

I'll see if I can get some pics here and then introduce you to the horses.

Top left is Selene, my wife's quarter horse who will be 2 in June. We bought her (and Josie) from a local horse rescue just over a year ago. She is very curious and needy. Always has to be almost touching someone. Top right is Josie, my confident 3 year old quarter horse. She is very tiny, as she was a rescue, and probably was very poorly fed when she was growing...hopefully she grows a bit more. She only weighs about 800lbs. On the bottom is Comet, just watching the other two as they check out my wife reading and try to steal Naked Liberty. He was not happy about the chair being in the pasture and didn't want to get too close. He is a five year old Morgan that we bought a few months ago, and he still isn't very adjusted to all the changes that he's gone through. We haven't really decided who's horse Comet is, though he does seem to come to me more. I think he is more comfortable with me, because I'm more relaxed around him. He gets pretty pushy and aggressive around food, and picks on the girls a lot, which my wife doesn't feel too comfortable with. He is a very big boy...

Author:  Donald Redux [ Wed Apr 21, 2010 4:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Hi from Greg

Hi there Greg and Lisa,

Yours is a story so many here share. We no longer find what we want in "orthodoxy," in horse handling. We want more.

Just sitting out there reading with the horses is "training;" that is if what you want to "train," consists of developing a relationship, a more close and trusting one. Buy then you know that or you would not be doing that.

I can't say how your Morgan will respond over time, but though I own one of the notoriously human oriented breeds, an Andalusian with one quarter Arabian in her, she had so little contact with humans up close the first ten years of her life, that she too has been quietly standoffish.

There is no trick, nothing one can do, that will suddenly turn this around. Nothing humane and caring and relationship building. At least in our case Altea and I are approaching closer over time. I treat her for little things I ask of her. She moves almost too quickly to doing what I ask without a reward at all. For some reason it makes me sad.

Then she'll show her independence and become standoffish even while wanting to be close to me. And that makes me glad for her.

Can't say how your path with your horse will go, but my guess is you will see changes over time. Sometimes just teaching a little thing and rewarding it can be a starting place.

He's quite handsome too, isn't he.

I look forward to reading more about them, all three and you two.

Your herd of five.


Author:  Glen Grobler [ Wed Apr 21, 2010 7:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Hi from Greg

Hi Greg. Welcome here.

Selene and Josie look very comfortable around their people. Comet is just gorgeous and impressive. Hang in there and just love him and be fair and consistent.

It has taken my retired pony months and months to get over the changes in his life - being neglected after he wasn't useful anymore and then coming here to these strange people who don't play by the only horse-human rules he knows. :D It's been very interesting and a lot of fun watching him realize we don't mind if he's in charge of himself as long as he lets us do the basics to keep him healthy. He did initially find it overwhelming to be responsible for himself, but very quickly got the typical pony-twinkle back in his eye after being resigned to having no rights for over 20 years. He's cheeky now :clap: he's alive again. It took around 6 months to get some attitude from him that was not fear-based.

Author:  Romy [ Wed Apr 21, 2010 8:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Hi from Greg

Welcome, Greg! :)

Comet is absolutely stunning, such a beauty! I am sure you will have such a great time with him. And you live in Alberta, wow... so close to Karen. Maybe you can visit her and her lovely Tam one day. :smile:

Looking forward to reading more about you, Lisa and your horses.

Warm Regards,

Author:  Morgan [ Wed Apr 21, 2010 9:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Hi from Greg

Hi Greg,
You are definitely in the right place!!!
How wonderful you found the point of listening to your horses now.....
It is perfectly possible to create an environment of trust to be able to ride your horses without fear or can be done...many of us here are doing it!
Both your babies will grow lots....remember they are not fully adult horses until 7 years of age so they have plenty of time to catch up given the right access to feed and movement.
Comet is also very 5 he is a teenager and has the responsibility of looking after the other two.....inside there is a horse looking for a leader, someone he can trust to take over that responsibility from time to time. He is going to be your best teacher.
Looking forward to hearing about your journey with all 3 horses.
Welcome here! :applause:

Author:  Leigh [ Wed Apr 21, 2010 6:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Hi from Greg

Hi Greg, and welcome to you and your wife and your tribe of three!

They look like a fabulous bunch.

One of my horses is a rescue with a tough past and while we've owned each other for a bunch of years now I still am frequently reminded that he needs to be the one who decides how intimate we are -- and this still varies wildly, depending on his mood. This has been hard for me because I'm innately very physical and demonstrative and given to over-the-topness (I'm sure everyone here will argue this with me. NOT! :funny: ) and it was really tough to end up with this introvert with a huge personal space. But as I'm finding piece with it (and learning not to take it personally), he is finding his way to me when he wants -- and those moments are hugely precious. I'm learning a lot from him about loving wildness and letting it find its way to you.

My other equine pal is utterly irrepressible and it looks like she and Josie would be tear-it-up pals! :yes: Personal space is a concept she absolutely doesn't get. :funny: And she's five, too -- in my pre-AND horse days I would have assumed that she was an adult at five -- I'm realizing just how young she still is and how that shapes her perceptions. I'm willing to bet that as Comet settles in and grows into himself a little he'll figure the world out in different ways.

Anyway -- I'm looking forward to hearing and seeing more about all of you!

All the best,

Author:  PiePony [ Fri Apr 23, 2010 2:31 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Hi from Greg

Hi Greg and Mrs.Greg and horses,
lovely intro from you.

I think your analysis that Comet is more inclined to hang out with you because you are comfortable or more naturally relaxed when he is near sums it be trusted we must trust, let's face it, trust, partnership, relationship are all things involving consent and agreement from more than one party, trust should not be a unilateral state.

Of course relationships between horse and human, just as with human and human may have to debate from vastly differing view points, either compromise at times or respect the others opinion whilst strongly disagreeing, or how can a marriage or horse partnership endure and flourish through the decades?

I love that the AND forum allows horses expression of opinion as well as respect.
I hope I uphold those principles when dealing with my own horses.

I do sometimes over rule them because I am the adult responsible for their well being, just because they would like to party in the sweetshop of lush pasture when their weight is already toward the top of healthy,means sometimes I say "no" but you can have some wilted nettles. I also know more about traffic on the road and refuse to be persuaded to walk in front of large vehicles to visit pretty fillies on the opposite carriageway.....but I do see their point of view.

In my experience it is not always the horses who have suffered abuse or neglect or even reasonable care but without having had much socialisation, they just all do have individual personalities.
Some are confident and outgoing, others are shy, some just do enjoy a little solitude. Often it is when those book wormish, introverted, self reliant types offer to enter in mutual grooming with a human, that you really can get a tear in the eyes.
I know plenty of humans who can manage okay, have a hard outer shell and a gooey middle, my friend calls them bonbons.

We cannot force ourselves on the "bonbon" it has to soften a little and offer an invitation.
If we have open hearts, open minds and we give our trust in it's truly defined meaning, we are able to receive that back, and when it comes it is magnified as though through multiple mirror images, and when the trust is projected from a horse you are dealing with love in it's purest form on a soul level.
Ecstatic, wow, of course we are. Most humans never experience giving while expecting nothing in return, never know offering for free without negotiation. Sociey promotes management techniques of gaining as much profit for as little input as possible. Horse do not expect me to cook dinner if they mend my car. As a human I might offer a treat for a leg lift or back up, but they, generous souls, will seek me out when I am sat in contemplation and rest a muzzle or leg against me, give honest criticism of me, love me inspite of myself, forgive my mistakes - providing they were deemed truthful, and engage me in living more fully than would be possible without their beautiful perpective of life, the Universe and everything.

My husband, Steve, is not horsey, but shares their qualities, he never reads this forum so I won't embarrass him, but he allows me to spend my time with my horses without making demands, so I try to allow my horses to also be themselves.
I am so lucky to be able to experience total freedom to be me, not judged by age, appearance, efficiency or social status.
I think Josepha has said it is the horses teaching us to be better humans rather than us training our horses how to be horses.

Welcome to you and enjoy.
Susie xx

Author:  Vivid Horses [ Sun Apr 25, 2010 10:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Hi from Greg

Thanks for the welcome everyone!

We are happy to have found such a wonderful resource to help us with our horse communication and training. There is so much to learn about being with horses at liberty, and without using any force, coercion or pain. Although I have never thought of myself as the type of person who would knowingly do any of those things, the more we've been learning the more I realized that in the past I didn't have as loving and harmonious relationships with my horses as I liked to think I did. I grew up on a farm and had a few different horses over the years, learning to ride mostly from trial and error, with a few pointers from my dad. While I rode for years bareback, I didn't even know it was possible to ride without a bridle. I had know idea about anything to do with the health of my horses. I hadn't really ever heard of collection, let alone considered if my horses were balanced or collected. As long as they were still going I figured they were happy enough!

Looking forward to our continuing journey, now that this community is part of it.

Lisa :f:

Author:  Karen [ Sat May 08, 2010 5:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Hi from Greg & Lisa

Greg and Lisa...

HI! I live near Edmonton. Nice to see you here! I'll be interested to hear more about your horses and your journey. I think I already have a soft spot for Comet....

Author:  horsefever [ Tue May 11, 2010 1:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Hi from Greg & Lisa

Hi Greg & Lisa:

Glad to hear from other Canadians! I haven't participated much on this forum lately even though I read alot of the information posted. I've been taking online courses from Carolyn Resnick. I am completely amazed by the results I'm having.
Now I'm doing the U.E. with them. The Waterhole rituals are going very well.
I have two horses, one TB who I adopted 5 years ago. Since dropping Parelli and continuing using the AND philosophy, I noticed a big change in my TB's attitude toward me. I am now his friend. Before, I dominated him so he basically stayed away or was scared of me. I hated phase 4. With AND, I started working more at liberty and working his brain doing things I knew he would like. But, when I started the Waterhole rituals with him, I can't describe our new relationship. The look in his eyes is different. Have you noticed that too??
Magik, my QH, was adopted two years ago and he's just starting to play at liberty. He used to have no personality, just existed (he was a school horse). He would nibble on things but was very stubborn. He still is mind you but we're working on the playful side of him. The WHR has definitely helped for that too.
Hope to read up alot more on your progress using the AND method and Carolyn's Waterhole Rituals.

Quebec City

Author:  Vivid Horses [ Tue May 11, 2010 2:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Hi from Greg & Lisa

Hi Karen, thanks for the welcome. We've been looking at you're videos and reading lots about Tamarack. You two have such a nice relationship!


We have also noticed a big difference in how our horses feel and respond with us. We haven't been doing the WHR exactly, but have been using lots of the philosophy behind them, and I do enjoy reading Carolyn's blog. While our horse Comet is still very distant and standoffish at times he is definitely beginning to trust us and he wants to spend time with us, even if it's at arms length. I think he is relieved that we aren't making him come into the round pen, or using pressure with him, as I'm sure that is how he was trained before...I can't wait until he lets loose and can feel safe enough to play with us!

Author:  AMA [ Tue May 11, 2010 8:36 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Hi from Greg & Lisa

Hi Greg and Lisa,

A very warm welcome from me too!

One of my horses I got also at age 5. He was a jumping horse that had been ruined because he was so good... :rambo:
He is 14 yrs old now and I still notice the difference between him and the others who I got at much younger age.
I know he loves me very much and he likes to be with me, but he is always more held back than the others.
But we accept each other the way we are and when he comes to me for big cuddles or just to be with me, the reward is always even bigger than with the others that hang around me constantly :)

I wish you lots of joy with your herd and hope to read more of you all.


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