12.30.2013

Trained Liberty vs. Liberty Training

What is the difference between Trained Liberty and Liberty Training? With the increasing interest in Liberty and Liberty play, I have noticed that there is a distinct difference between what I call Liberty Training or Tricks and Trained Liberty.

 Liberty has been around for some time in many ways shapes or forms. It is used in circuses, entertainment, and even movies and TV. This Liberty constitutes mostly what I call Trained Liberty and tricks at Liberty. It is distinctly different than Liberty training or play. Horses trained in Liberty are taught a lot of their cues in tack and under restraint of some kind as opposed to being at Liberty and free to come and go in the conversation as well as change the agenda if they want to. Liberty taught in round pens or small areas also constitutes the possibility of the horse not having the ability to leave the conversation, change the subject and be free to communicate in a two way conversation.

What Liberty Training looks like to me is a free flowing organic conversation that changes moment by moment. I have no feeling of what my horse "Should" be doing. Only a feeling of enjoying the conversation, and the companionship intertwined with whatever we may be playing with. Take the pressure off. There is a really nice space to train in when we do that. It opens door ways to more interesting, fun training for both horse and person. This does not mean you are not communicating or even communicating quite strongly at times, It just means there is no pressure to achieve a particular outcome or result. Just you saying something, and the horse is allowed to say something. And then you listen to what the horse says. Then you say something back that seems appropriate in that moment.

I have hula hoops in my ring that are on the ground for figure guides and Mercury keeps showing me that he would like to work with the hula hoops when he is at Liberty. He clearly goes over to them and puts his front feet in the hoop. There are 4 and he will proceed to the next one and do the same. I have never taught him this and he offers it as his own idea. I am interested in this game he is showing me that he made up. Stand in the hoops with your front feet. I might then elaborate on this game by adding another piece to it. This to me, is the spirit of the Liberty play. It is free, organic and two way. Even when I am practicing more and more advanced Liberty play, I am always looking for my horses ideas, suggestions and input. I am always pleasantly surprised by what I get. I have a photo series of what to me shows the interaction I desire with my horse at Liberty. It is all spontaneous, co-creative, in the moment and a lot of fun! Happy New Year!
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