By Sue Palmer
There’s always a bit of doubt in my mind over whether or not to like liberty work. I think it’s to do with the way we’re told that some of the training is done, though I’ve not personally witnessed harsh training towards liberty work. All the harshness I’ve seen is when the horse is connected in some way to the handler or rider, usually through headcollar and lead rope or through bridle, so that the horse cannot easily escape the abuse. I’m sure, of course, that a lot of liberty work is also started with the horse in a situation that he cannot easily escape from, and that’s where rumour has it that the harsh behaviour occurs. Certainly when you watch some liberty work, the horses ears are flat back throughout and he doesn’t appear to be enjoying himself. Others, however, are a joy to watch, and I think on balance, today at least, I’m a fan ?
I came across this clip through www.horseconfidence4u.co.uk (https://youtu.be/EC5C2N9auMU), and I thought it was lovely to watch. Horse and handler look like they’re having so much fun! I don’t know what techniques were used to train this, but I know I’d be very proud if I could play like this with my horse.
It’s not liberty work, but this is probably one of my favourite examples of someone riding bareback and bridle-less: https://youtu.be/TKK7AXLOUNo
I did have a go myself a few years back at some bareback and bridle-less riding with my beautiful mare Belvedere, here’s the evidence: https://youtu.be/hq3BsmidJX8. It’s not quite up to Stacey’s standard! As you can see, I used a treat based approach. I’ve always loved riding bareback, and have hacked out bareback as well as with a saddle on since I was a child. I can remember having a discussion with my Mum about the pros and cons (for the horse) of riding bareback when I was about 12yrs old, after I’d been out for a couple of hours on my pony without a saddle. We decided at that time that it probably depended largely on how well balanced the rider was.
What do you dream of achieving with your horse? What would you need to change in order for you to get there? And how can you make those changes happen?
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