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Judith
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xx Liberty another way!
« Thread started on: Sep 13th, 2013, 11:59am »

Charlie and I have recently returned from holidaying in northern France. At Haras du Pin and the Chantilly 'Living horse museum' we saw the French style of liberty work.
Their style [ I think!] comes from the haut ecole tradition of Saumur and the classical art from of dressage. So, the horse is trained inhand for liberty , with the ultimate goal of high rears and airs above the ground! They then are done ridden as well.
We watched a training session at Chantilly. The stables were built in 1705 ,to house 100s of horses , beautiful but monumental building. Now there about 25 horses of various types, but the display horsesa re mostly Iberian.The training takes place in a 10 metre circular area, a bit like a circus ring. I did think the liberty lacked 'draw'! A very swishy flexible whip was used as the main training aid- it did make a noise! The rearing cue was a 'up' vocal cue , with the stick on the wither. Particular attention was payed to where the hind legs were , they had to be held far under the horse, to get the extension for a full rear.
The same horses , in the small ring, were later put through their paces - walk, trot, passage, canter, counter canter[ in a 10 m circle!] ,ranver,traver, half pass, bow to finish. As usual the Iberian horses look the part!
Haras du Pin is the largest of the 20 or so National studs , housing a variety of stallion s for the public to use. They are hose din building s built in 1600s , by Louis xiv. breeds there included TB, Arab, Anglo arab, Warmblood,Trotter, Percheron. All these breeds were included in the display to music , which lasted 1 hr 20 mins. It was very well done. Also displayed were 'trick riders' , including a pair of Paints where the rider stood on their backs and careered around in trot then canter ,then jumping ! The other two display riders worked at liberty - including getting the horse to lie down , circle , rear. Also ridden liberty at all gaits in a fairly small area , and lots of rearing! One girl walked/ran on stilts beside her liberty pony!Bit weird , but she could run fast beside pony as it cantered along!
I can heartily recommend visiting either of these places- a different tradition, but worth seeing!
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xx Re: Liberty another way!
« Reply #1 on: Sep 22nd, 2013, 09:17am »

Many apologies for any difficulties getting on the website here- I hope it ll be easy from now on.
We are working Keanu daily now. I do liberty with him for about half an hour, then Charlie tacks him up and rides indoors , and now we are walking down the farm track to the road - keanu is being a good boy!
I have been very careful in the liberty training. before we bought him as a yearling he had been 'flashed 'at liberty to show off his Welsh cob spanking trot.So, when he is at liberty he has been waiting for the signal to do 'wall of death' trotting. This has , obviously, made him tense with the whole liberty thing, so my mission has been to get him to forget previous experiences and relax ,and learn what the Draw is.
This has taken a few sessions. The first goal was to get him to follow into the centre and relax there. He held onto tension [visible in the wrinkes in his nose and tight tail] for quite some time. Only be gently asking for lateral flexion , lots of stroking and massage moves he he eventually 'let go', took around an hour. The next couple of sessions got him relaxing much quicker , and now he will come into the middle and we can flex, follow and 'lead off ' in figures of eight.
I have had to focus on movements to increase Draw - theres too much Drive in backing up or yielding away. At no time have I sent him away with energy , if he has left me [ and they always do- plenty of times] I just drop directly behind him , walk after him without hassling , until he turns towards me. Then I quickly turn away from him and walk towards the middle. Its suprising how well this works (with every horse,actually)- the sooner we get away from sending them out at a fast pace as a 'punishment' for them leaving us the better!
Keanu has certainly taught me that to get the draw can be harder than getting the drive![ But as we know all horses are different and a cheeky/bity/ bargy horse will need drive , not draw]

Ruby had a major castration surgery. One testicle hadnt descended, and the abdomen had to be the way in. At least its done now and he and Polly will come home in a day or so. While they ve been away the 'big boys' have moved into the field Polly and Ruby usually have , sharing it with 5 cows and calves. We ve opened a haylage bale for them all as grass getting a little tight .
Wills has been clipped, and Charlie will begin winter competition in a fortnight. From doing lovely 10 m counter canter , the game will now change and work begin on flying changes fro advanced medium tests. That will be the only new movement, but the other movements are marked harder and the test are more complex - seems theres no end to it!Wills has become incredibly strong and 'uphill' with this work. He has the hocks/back strength to carry himself easily, he is of a small hunter stamp [ apart from his bum which amkes him just into LW cob] and at 15.3 an optimum size for strength/muscle/bone ratio. I think he a Duricall battery and will go forever - he s never ever been tired out, even after a 20 mile hack one day followed by a days hunting the next - it was Charlie that was exhausted, not him!
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xx Re: Liberty another way!
« Reply #2 on: Sep 26th, 2013, 12:06pm »

On Tuesday I watched Charlie and Wills have their dressage lesson.This was at Bishop Burton , with visiting list 1 dressage judge/trainer /rider Steph Cooper.
The theme was flying changes, and by the end lots of the students were watching too!
Wills ,once warmed up, was reminded of his counter canters, which are very good. Then in figures of eight , and asking for the change at the boards .Wills had mixed results , but did some good ones. The trick seemed to be exact ,clear body language , with a definite 'switch' from one seat bone to the other. In dressage the changes arent learnt from speed [ as in Parelli ,or indeed showjumping!] it all has to be done collected . Steph Cooper is a very entertaining instructor , and by using a mike directly to a receiver Charlie wore, directions were instantly given and understood! The downside of flying changes is that counter canter is often 'lost' for a few weeks , and its still needed for the medium tests , so plenty of potential difficulties.
Ruby and Polly are back, and Ruby is fine and well- a little too fat in fact , and is now on a small paddock to keep trim and not gallop madly about. keanu is still having a daily session of liberty , followed by a short ride indoors , then led off old Topper along the road. Keanu has met some gigantic farm machinary, also horseboxes, rattly trailers etc , but is fine on the inside of Topper - who is 100% in all traffic. As an ex driving horse he feels most comfortable off the inside of the road , so leading one is perfect for him.
I m still working on the Draw for Keanu , and now he will go out on a small circle and can be 'placed' at a given distance from me . He is then 'led' around the circle through Draw, not Drive. I ve still hardly used a Drive , so he s hardly done a backup - hq yield and fq yields are mostly done through the Draw. By that I mean I place his nose in the right position - towards or away from me depending on the yield, and move my draw hand , rather than add energy from the drive hand.If that doesnt make sense ,come and have alesson!
On October 13th I am having a days work doing LIBERTY and ALEXANDER TEECHNIQUE lessons in Bedfordshire. there may be a space for an extra lesson or so , contact me in the first instance - judith@naturalhorsetrainer.co.uk.
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xx Re: Liberty another way!
« Reply #3 on: Oct 14th, 2013, 09:12am »

Despite rain and wind , I had a super day teaching in Bedfordshire. Once you begin a lesson bad weather is forgotten - until a couple of lessons later you realise how cold your hands are! Alexander lessons in a warm room was a nice end to the day. Many thanks to Heather who rganised the day for me.
2 of the horses had never done liberty before , and as usual individual reactions are so varied. From the horse who followed and worked really well, to the red haired diva who bronked and kicked out at us - before we d even asked for anything! Great progress was made by all. many thanks to all concerned.
While I was away Charlie and Wills did 2 medium tests and were 1st and 2 nd. Although the venue was not a new one , the ring was different , extra flower pots etc , so that was enough to make Wills a little tense- same old story!
As the wind has remained strong here we havent ridden Keanu out on the roads yet. His liberty work is now coming on so well- because we have a good draw he can do more difficult moves easily. For instance he will change direction in a turn on the forehand , from draw only. We re also working on sideways and shoulder in . Again , draw is vital to this , as the head should stay slightly bent towards the handler. With an increasingly relaxed and confident horse , I have able to begin backups and circling . As a yearling Keanu had been 'flashed' - free lunged at speed to show his spanking Welsh trot. Now he has forgotten that and will trot around me in a relaxed way , and is moe than happy to come in and stand still.
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xx Re: Liberty another way!
« Reply #4 on: Oct 23rd, 2013, 12:30pm »

More progress on the liberty front. Keanu continues to build draw , which so helps relaxation. he has been ridden out on the road once, but wether is so bad - wind and rain , or C is busy with other things , that Keanu is short of work.
The rain has meant Charlie has been riding Wills indoors , so I ve been doing liberty with him too. When we first got Wills I did lots of groundwork , and some liberty with him , but that was in 2007! I later did a few sessions of doble liberty with Wills and Ben. So , Wills somewhat rusty, but coming back to him now! As usual its the draw that needs the work.....
Charlie and I watched the Dressage convention this past weekend. This was put together by Richard davison and Carl hester . Also appearing were Sylvia Loch and Miguel Rigeo[ spelling will be wrong] from Portugal. Special guest star was Charlotte and Valegro . Watching that amazing horse going through a couple of training sessions - just the intelligence and willingness he has is unbelievable. He so loved the crowd that at the end of the session he walked the long side watching us , soaking up the applause!
Speaking as a non dressage rider , the convention was very interesting, but occasionally a bit technical. The Classical way seems even more technical! Sylia Loch, though, was a joy to watch , hands like silk and the stressy Iberian horse she rode [ having been ridden by is owner and not settled] went like a dream for her.
I would still like to see dressage horses in cavesson nosebands [ without cranks...] and ridden on a much lighter rein. It seems such hard work to be on the bit . I know all the presenters made horses stretch down , and the horses were strong and well muscled. But at lower levels [ of horsemanship and competition riding] people try for the on -the- bit , and forget the strengthening and stretching , but the modern tests incorperate stretching , so dressage is hopefully going in the right direction.
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xx Re: Liberty another way!
« Reply #5 on: Nov 5th, 2013, 5:08pm »

Feeling a lot like winter now. Horses are in at night , and starting to mark the fields.
We continue to slowly get keanu going - he s trotting on the road once during a 35 min ride, just to get him to strengthen and find his balnce under the rider. We do this en route home , me on Topper - who walks slowly away from the stable , turn him round and he s like a train steaming away!his many years of driving give him huge strength through the shoulders , but he s a good boy and isnt too hard to hold! keanu, under Topper s guidance, continues to be excellent in traffic.
Charlie has had 2 more competitions on Wills - this week getting a 1st and a 2nd. The previous competiton didnt go so well, as anew shed had appeared near the ring , and he took great exception to it. He will always be liable to 'losing it' under duress!
To see some photos of me working with Keanu , go to facebook page :lukebellphotography.com. Luke ,our son in law, is a pro photographer - just wish he d been around years ago ! Please also'like' the page -[ these things help on google searches etc.]
We have been reading Tom Roberts ' books on Horsemanship. he joined the army as a bugler aged 14 in 1914. However, he soon became invaluable inn the cavalry sections , and his book 'Horse control reminisinces' goes into some detail of the lost world of the army horse. After WW1, where he had become, at 16, the youngest army riding instructor [ and broke in the remounts] he settled in Australia.
The books were written in the 1970s when he was the grand old man of equitation in Oz. All good stuff in his books - not neccessarily N H , but as he says , when good horsemen get together the similarities of training are always many more than the differences.
I m hoping everyone is still doing stuff with their horses and not gone into hibination?
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xx Re: Liberty another way!
« Reply #6 on: Nov 12th, 2013, 5:52pm »

Alycia Burton- now thats a new and incredible new direction for ridden liberty...
She calls it 'free riding' and if you google her , or on youtube , you ll find some amazing footage of Alycia jumping a pinto over 1.70m show jumps. Not only is she riding with only a neck strap,but her position over the jumps, plus the horse s great jumping talent, is a wonderful thing to watch. For anyone trying liberty , this is where it could lead! However, I am past the time for any sort of jmping , so will never be able to emulate her. ben would have given it a go - he could jump 4 foot easily , but he was pretty strong going into a jump!
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xx Re: Liberty another way!
« Reply #7 on: Nov 25th, 2013, 6:32pm »

Another recommendation:
'The path of the horse' an hour long documentary , is a great watch on Youtube. It has only recently been made available in one 'go'. Have just watched it twice!
Stormy May - a USA professional horse trainer , travelled and met mark Rashid, Carolyn Resnick, Klaus Hempfling, Alexander Nevzorov, and others, to try and discover why she felt she d lost her way with her horse work. The film is very moving , and for us N H and liberty lovers- we are on the right lines! As we know , working freely with horses brings us up against ourselves all the time-I certainly find liberty works so much better without expectations/aims/demands going on in my head. So, I have to doubly remember to stay in the moment - its not an easy disciple to learn!
Some of the scenes make for uncomfortable viewing - mainly the Russian and USA clips of harsh riding. I m pleased the UK has a stringent code of conduct, in public competition at least.
Charlie and Wills won twice again on Saturday, and have another competiton tomorrow. Come December summer qualifiers begin! Cahrlie will not compete fpr a while over Dec/Jan , and try to train Wills more for the flying changes he ll meet in Advanced Medium classes.
Keanu continues to build on his liberty , doing some nice soft work. of course occasionally it all goes to pot- such as when we wormed him the other day. Immediately he flung his head up and pushed his neck and shoulders towards us - showing that underneath he s still a defensive little horse.[ have to work on the apple sauce trick....]
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xx Re: Liberty another way!
« Reply #8 on: Dec 8th, 2013, 6:00pm »

Just a word to say Charlie won a medium class with over 69% today- despite Wills being a little 'mouthy'. Charlie got some very nice comments re the training and way of going of Wills - males getting ready and going out on a Decembers day worthwhile!
With Wills now nearly qualified for the summers Champs [July] Charlie can either keep competing , or train in ernest for the advanced mediums - flying changes to perfect for that!
Otherwise the daily work continues much as usual - still slowly bringing Keanu on, hacking him from the bridle now , accompanied by me on Topper. Ruby, the yearling bought in the spring is growing well and still moving as well as he did- floating! Ben s winter coat is so thick he s sweating nearly every night - this in a barn with open sides! Not keen on clipping him - I m not averse to leaving him out, but he and the others like their inddor round feeder and big bale haylage [ second cut from this year, excellent stuff that smells just like drying hay]
The cows are still out- unheard of - not even giving them haylage bales. Its been my ambition to keep them out till xmas - well thus year we might just make it1 The 7 with calves are indoors, plus the 5 baby calves bought in Sept. I am weaning the elder 3 onto 1x a day milk, which they dont like.
We have a now long- running saga with cats. having got 2 beautiful and lovely kittens in July , we now are feeding 4. A third young cat appeared in late Sept , and so we fed her and tried to get her used to us. All was going well- we could see she had been spayed, as the left tip of her ear was removed, and she and our two are very friendly. Then after a few weeks our son-in-law realised there were 2 strays, both so similar in marking s size, etc. The second one remains very nervous , also has ear clipped , and I think someone must have dumped them nearby. Our 2 are named for game of Thrones siblings Bran and Arya [ Starks of Winterfell], so we called the third one 'Sansa ' after the other Stark daughter. The second stray cat is called 'Sansa Two'! All 4 play at times - but the 2 Sansa s prefer Bran - he sgrown very big and sleek and I think they rather fancy him !
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xx Re: Liberty another way!
« Reply #9 on: Dec 21st, 2013, 11:00am »

The end of another year! It goes without saying that i hope everyone has a good time over Christmas and that the New Year brings good health, success and happiness- and may all your horse wishes come true!
Charlie has had a good yeat competing Wills , with results to 69% at Medium. he has already qualified for the summer Regionals , and aims to compete Advance dmedium in the next few months. Wills suddenly was getting tired in his second tests of a competition, so is now on Sacasen feeds . We ve not dared feed him much before! But it seems to keeping his energy up, but he s no sillier than before!
This time last year we didnt have Ruby, and he is such a character. he gives old Polly a job - keeping an adolescent in order! She will be 29 next year , yet apart from her old injuries is still very healthy.
Ben hasnt been ridden for 2 years now, but doesnt seem to miss it - hi job is to keep order in the boys field - Wills he has tamed to a certain degree , and has Topper and Keanu as his 'mini me s'. The four boys get on very well- each pair in a 20x15 feet pen ,with a rind feeder beween them. Looks a bit like Herrings painting 'A frugal meal' with 4 heads eating so close together.
Our aims for the coming year are to show both keanu and Ruby a little , just in inhand classes[ although Keanu will be 4 ] We shall try to keep horse numbers down......6 is quite enough.
The open weather means 13 cows are still outside, and not moaning to be in - in fact the 7 inside would prefer to be out. The next bunch of calves wont go till February. By that time perhaps we ll have a hire bull to please the girls - we have no plans to buy one again.[ Unless a lovely one somehow finds us!]
We recently were at a farm with 100 longhorn cattle - 3 beautiful bulls there! I m not keen on horned animals , and some of the females had to be wintered outside as they gored other cattle . Today when we were sorting some cows out,ready for when the 13 come in , we put 3 with the 5 'icecream' girls for a few minutes- and sure enough one of them 'Choc chip' was turned upside down behind the crush and watertrough by one of the 'boss' cows. At least no horns were involved.
Charlie went for a day to watch Phillipe Karl in Northants. Seems ashame P K continues to critisise competitive dressage , when lightness and harmony continue to get better marks. The evidence is clear - Charlotte and Valegro [ and what a beautiful performance that was!] lead the way. yes, there are plenty of competitors that are far too heavy and domineering with their hands - but i believe over time that will alter - rosettes are a great incentive! On a similar theme , and I m not one for watching showjumping these days , theres an Italian rider at Olympia who trains with Parelli type principles and jumps every so often bridleless just to check his connection with the horse. Both his top flight horses came to him unridable , he must be a truly empathetic and gifted horseman. He was seen giving his horse a carrot after a winning round at Olympia.
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