Thursday, September 17, 2009

Liberty work and making friends.

The New barn is a quiet one. I usually do not see the other boarders for weeks if ever. To my surprise when I arrived yesterday there was not one, but two other boarders already grooming and fussing over their charges. One was the boarder my husband has named "crabby Abby" here name is not Abby, though she is indeed a little uptight. The other I had not met before but she seemed sweet. She was the owner of the old TB cross "JW" that I had taken a special liking to.

Bodhi got his feet trimmed yesterday by a new farrier so instead of riding I gave him a bath and then took him into the riding ring for some liberty work. Our liberty work is really developing. Bodhi now stays close to me and will lunge at the walk and trot around me as if I had a lounge line attached. I have found I can turn him by turning my own shoulders into the circle or out to widen the circle or change directions. We worked on cantering down the long side of the ring and then circling at each end at the trot. I try and match my feet to his feet and that seems to really translate well for him. If I want him to trot out I lengthen my stride and if I want him to collect I collect. He has always had a hard time cantering on the lunge line but I have found instead of chasing him with the lunge whip around a circle if I just change my trot to a "lope" beside him he quickly matches it! He even got his bad lead once (with a snarky little buck to show me how much he protested) He stops on a dime when I stop moving my feet and say whoa. I probably look like a crazy person but it is an amazing to play with my horse in this fashion. It is a very proud moment for me. I never thought he would be the type to choose to stay connected and play when he could just go to the other side of the ring and avoid me. He is a clever boy who avoids work like the plague.

I was so engrossed with my Bodhi bonding experience I did not hear JW's owner walk up to the ring until I heard her voice. Bodhi and and I both stopped and looked over to her as she repeated "Don't you want a lunge line?"
I could not shake the feeling of being reprimanded for something-"Oh, no thanks! I'm fine"
"It's no trouble at all I can find you one"
"Thanks but I am doing some liberty work with Bodhi today so I don't need one"
"Liberty work?!"
At this point I had flipped my whip in Bodhi's direction and he began to circle around me at a slow jog. He was stretching his neck all the way to the ground. I asked for halt which he dutifully gave.
"That is pretty good. JW would just run away and eat grass." I guess that was a compliment but I still felt like she thought I was a little crazy. Maybe liberty work is taboo in some circles or disciplines? I am not sure. I always feel like I am the last one to figure these sorts of things out. I felt a self conscious twinge and ended the session anyways. I felt like I was finally breaking down the barriers of communication and on the verge of discovery and she made me feel like I had put my saddle on backwards. Oh well.


  1. I don't think you're crazy at all. But I can tell you that what you've accomplished with Bodhi sounds pretty unique to me and I would probably offer you a lunge line as well -- not cause I thought you were crazy, just cause I can't imagine a world where a horse will just play along without the need for any control mechanism other than your body language! What I mean to say is, it's really impressive. Tucker will obligingly follow me around the ring while I set up cavalletti or walk around with me in his field, but he'd have absolutely no idea what I wanted from him if I tried to get him to trot circles around me. You shouldn't feel self-conscious, you should be really proud of what you've acccomplished! I am sure you realize that probably no one else in your barn could pull their horse out and do the same kind of work, so while you probably are doing something different, it's different in a good way!

  2. Sounds like some good stuff going on. I board at a barn where at liberty work would not be allowed, considered too unsafe (ie. horse will freak out, start running and crash the fence). Maybe that's how the lady at the barn was thinking. Her comment was interesting about what she thought her horse would do is she tried at liberty work. My mare, Drifter, will work with me at walk, but I haven't much luck having her companion walk with me at trot. Good work with Bodhi.