As you might have guessed, I’m a very practical person. I learn by doing. Ultimately though, we all must learn by doing as there is no alternative and this is especially true with horses. I do hope that you enjoy watching my DVDs and reading my book but I have to tell you that unless you get out there and put them into practice, you will never know what sort of results you might get. I recently had a lovely email from a lady called Madelaine. Here’s what she had to say:
Something extraordinary happened today that I need to share with you. I just received your DVD and your book. I watched the DVD and started to read the book at home, whilst sharing space with my horse. (What an exciting life you have with horses).
I have been playing a lot with my mare in recent years. I am a clinic junkie and studied most of the big names seeking answers on how to improve communication with horses because I am tired of all the emotional abuse and neglect we often unconsciously give them because we don’t take the time to understand them.
I thought I had a good relation with my mare (Bravada) and I still do believe I have but recently she snapped at me twice coming out of her box. Actually, I was caught completely off guard and was extremely surprised and shocked (kind of insulted). I went looking for answers and this is how I discovered your site and Method. So far, I received the best explanation ever: bond and trust do not mean respect. Horses play dominant games and snap from behind if we let them lead from behind. It is their nature.
On Wednesday, I played with Bravada Sharing Territory, Saying Hello, Leading from Behind, Magnetic Connection, Go Trot and Come Up and Taking Territory. In that order. Magnetic Connection did not work too well because she would leave me if I turned the opposite way. Go Trot and Come Up got her annoyed because I trained her to free lunge around me connected with a nice bend at the poll and pushing from behind. I do clicker training so I normally would click at her when she was doing well. I did not and saw that she was getting upset; she bucked and had a tense jaw. I quit. I reviewed your DVD and learned that we should not do Go trot and Come Up if the Magnetic Connection is not good.
Today, I did Sharing Territory. I felt she was really in tune with me so I tried the Magnetic Connection. Wow, we were trotting, stopping, and turning right and left shoulder to shoulder. She did get a few carrots along the way though. After that I decided to ride a little, which was magical. I don’t know if it is due to your Method or not since I am quite new to it, but it was the best ride ever with my horse. She gave me passage and piaffe movements that I had been practicing or trying to accomplish for more than a year now. She was a joy to
ride, the transitions were smooth. I got the best canter strike off ever. I had the feeling of being on a cloud, it was light and effortless. I felt we were both so in tune and in harmony. I rode for 15 minutes only, maybe less; it was too good I had to acknowledge it by giving her the ultimate pressure release (dismounting), treats and hugs.
I have only been doing the Rituals for the last two days. Could that be it? How often do you do the Rituals? Once or on a regular basis? Some Rituals more than others depending on the state of the horse at that moment?
Here are my answers to Madelaine, which I think make a good summary of what we are trying to achieve:
I use the Waterhole Rituals™ every day that I see my horse because it brings them a sense of community and freedom and well-being like they would get with a herd of horses that they were bonded to. They get joy out of it like a dog would playing catch or chasing a ball.
The Waterhole Rituals™ prepares the heart, mind and spirit to focus on wanting to share and communicate like a dance partner. Each Ritual is to be used as a test to check out the heartstring of connection that it represents.
The first Ritual, Sharing Territory, is to get the vibration of the bond going. The second, Saying Hello, is like re-doing your vows of respect by showing the horse that you will only lead in the moment he is willing to follow and never with force. This develops and establishes trust.
Taking Territory creates respect. However this Ritual should in most cases be used very sparingly. I find that in a lifetime of a horse I might have to use it four or five times. If you have a horse that is very disrespectful, use it as much as necessary to gain respect. If you cannot sneak up on the horse to take territory it should not be used. You would then use Leading from Behind to get the job done.
The Eye Contact Ritual puts in the mind of the horse that he needs to stay focused on you.
Leading from Behind develops a work ethic and makes fear and aggression evaporate. Leading from behind also builds courage in the performance itself as well as developing camaraderie.
Companion Walking in the Magnetic Connection will only work if the other strings of connection are truly in place. If your horse will not companion walk, don’t “train” him to do it. Figure out where the failure of connection lies and rebuild it with the appropriate Ritual.
Go Trot and Come Up (now called Dancing with Your Horse) is to be used when Companion Walking is consistent.
Madelaine wasn’t afraid to go out and try the rituals and although she maybe didn’t get them straight off, she had a go, made progress and continued to practice.
I had a follow-up email soon after that said she was able to get Bravada to lie down and was able to rub her all over her back. Madelaine said she’s been trying to do that with her since she first had her when she was 11 months old. She is now 12 years old.
The rituals may seem slow to some people but they work fast when you develop the bond as Madelaine discovered. Well done.