Peace cannot be kept by force, it can only be achieved by understanding
Liberty can not exists from force, stress and expectations.
It exists from letting go of the horse, physically and mentally.
Why do we see it as a problem when our horse does not want to stay with us in liberty?
It hurts, we associate it with failure and not being loved. But, is that actually the case?
Love is not holding on and not letting go. That is ‘attachment’. Unfortunately, this is often seen as a way to express love. Because of this we think that when horses do not do this for us, we are not loved. True love and freedom is just letting go.
Attachment, liberty with out liberty, is about ego. It’s about ‘me’. It is saying that you love your horse and that is why you want your horse to makeÂ you happy. True love, the true liberty, revolves around your horse. It is saying that you love your horse and therefore want him / her to be happy. It is a big difference of energy and feeling.
The more we want to hold on, the more the horse wants to pull away. We think that the more we hold on, the more we love. But the more we hold on, the more we want to fulfill ourselves by another. The more we want to create a feeling of happiness by being dependent on how your horse is feeling. Which causes disappointment, frustration and communication problems.
True liberty, letting go, is responding to your authenticity. It is knowing that you are loved and therefore you can let go of everything. It does not come from your ego but from you. It is not their job to give your satisfaction despite what they feel. It is our job to be able to build a relationship based on connection, authenticity and true love.
The horse his behavior is very often misunderstood. I believe that every behavior has a certain reason. For example, a horse may not want to walk, trot or canter because of pain or a feeling of uncertainty. You learn to translate the horse’s behavior in order to communicate. In this way we can work on a solution that comes from the cause and is not from the symptom. Because we give the horse pure liberty, we give him a choice and a voice to communicate. Horses only have their behavior to tell us something is wrong.
Horses are not raised in what is good and what is not good like us. So for them running away of the way of communicating and not because they think it is ‘bad’. The ‘bad’ behavior of a horse is, in our opinion, a moral issue to us. But not according to their way of thinking. So it is up to us to move in to the mind of the horse.
The goal is that you understand what your horse tells you with his body language. From this we will continue working in liberty, where you learn to work and communicate from your own body.
A movement does not start in our muscles, but in our heads. Our brains send signals through which make our muscles move. That is why it is extremely important that your horse is mentally relaxed. A horse that is mentally stressed can never move in a relaxed way. That is whyÂ riding with stress and tension is not the way to let a horse perform a dressage exercise. When the horse is tensed, they will startÂ using the wrong muscles. As a result, they start to use their joints in the wrong way and develop inflammations. In this way horses develops tendons or muscles problems. All this can be avoided by giving an appropriate training to your horse. When the horse uses the wrong muscles for a long time, they also develop a different pattern of movement in which we see a lot ofÂ problems. The horse will also remember mentally that people and training means tension. It is very difficult than to learn the horse to relax and that training does not hurt.
By working with a reward signal and food rewards, we activate the search system of the brain of the horse. By working from energy and positive training we create a connection with our horse so we do not need force the horse. Horses can move beautifully in nature, yet,Â for us it seems an impossible task to practice these movementsÂ in the arena. The horse has lost the ability to feel his own body because they are not challenged anymore by their natural needs.Â By using positive training, we can help the horse to feel his body back and move in a balanced and natural way.
Research shows that horses who are trained with food rewards, have less stress and the movements they learn have a different impact on their brain. When we teach a horse through force, it might look the same but it is differently processed in the brain.
That is why first we start with finding relaxation and work from there to move collective movements in liberty.
Working with food rewards might not feel safe for some people. But with rewarding on the exact time you can avoid it turns into a dangerous game. It is normal a horse seeks for food because you trigger this part of the brain. Horses don’t understand we feel this is ‘bad’. But that is no reason we should just allow it. It has to stay safe. More food rewarding sessions go wrong because of:
- The horse is not in balance
- There is no connection
- Wrong timing of rewarding
- Horse gets rewarded for being pushy
- Horse gets frustrated because he doesn’t understand
- No rewarding signal
- The horse is too hungry
- Rewards contain too much sugar