As I have mentioned before, I have never owned a horse. However Shanni the Gypsy Horse was the first horse that I had total freedom to pretend like she was my own.
She was also the first horse that I trusted completely, although really, our time together was rather short. I only worked with her for a few months before she was moved and sold.
When I first started doing anything with her other than saying hi out in the field I really had no experince at all. I had sat on her while my friend led her, but other than that nothing. I have very little riding experince, so it was just natural to me to start on the ground with her. I had been watching a lot of videos about horse liberty and was completely facinated by it. Not so much about the trick apect of it, but the mirroring and the subtle communication of it.
I decided that was what I wanted to do with her. However after trying to lead her the arena the first time and being pushed all over the place by her that day I quickly relized that we needed to start somewhere else. She did not have any faith in my leadership abilities, and I had no idea how to show her otherwise. So back to YouTube I went. I watched videos about join up from a few different trainers, and figured I would give a version of that a go. There was not round pen, and only an arena, so I did something more of join up/free lunging… me running around alot.. thing.
The first few minutes was a long of me sending her off, running to the other end of the arena, sending her off again in the direction I wanted (I should say, I never chased her, I would run/walk quickly to where she was, stop, and send her). After about 5 minutes, she began to circle me, and I could walk in a small circle. I was able to stop drawn her to look in at me, then I turned my back to see if she would join up. And she did… and I never suceed at it again with her, but I never needed it again. She never pushed me around again after that. If I ever had problems leading her, I would simple change directions, do a cirlce, placing myself back in the front. This worked 90% of the time.
After that I only did stuff at liberty with her, unless we were going for a walk in the forest. It was a lot of just liberty leading and quiet communication. I could have a whole conversation with her without saying anything at all. I rarely raised my voice when working with her. There was just no need to . She could hear me fine, and she was always looking to my hands, my feet or my body for communication.
I also achieve something I had hoped for. Being in sync.
When this photo was taken, me and her owner had just been standing in this little paddock talking. I walked over to pick up something up, and Shanni walked over to me and joined me. I took this as an invitation, and we just walked around the paddock for 10 minutes or so together. I was luck my friend decided to pick up my camera, and it wasn’t until after I saw this picture I could see how much in sync we were that day. It was some what magical. It wasn’t long after this that Shanni was sold, so I am glad to have these pictures.
I learned a lot in those couple of months, the biggest being that there are a lot of different ways to handle horses, and a lot of different trainers with a lot of different opinions on how to do things. I learned that there is no single one way or method that feels completely right for me, and that I tend to do better when I take the advice I recieve, then follow my heart on what feels right. But again, I am not working towards training a horse to be ridden or being used for one thing or another. But honestly I am not sure sure that interests me other. I am more interested in the relationship and communication between me and the horses I am around. I am 100% okay with taking things slowly, and I am in no rush. I will perhaps go into more detail about that in another post…
Shanni was a great ‘first’ horse and I regret not purchasing her myself. I think we could have went a lot farther together. But she gave me confidence that I seem to know something about being around horses and the stuff I learned and tested with her I have used with other horses as well.
She was also the last horse I have been up on, and I learned not to get on a hormonal mare when there is a beautiful male horse in the field next field and your legs are sore from the day before… lets just say that ended with me on the ground with a nicely bruised foot from her running over it. So I managed to get falling off a horse for the first time done with her as well. I am not overly worried about getting back on… the opportunity just hasn’t happened yet.