When I re-homed Chester as a project pony from World Horse Welfare I had no idea how our future together would look. All I knew was that he looked very wonky but seemed to want to be with me.
I spent a long time sharing territory with him this is the first of Carolyn Resnick’s rituals she developed from her study of wild horses. We would spend time in the same area, him with hay and water me with a chair and a book. This grew a bond between us. I needed to have boundaries around him exploring me as he used to be a biter, I let him sniff my boots but I was always ready to move him away before he got tempted to bite.
As he became more settled and we grew more and more bonded I took him through the whole program of The Resnick Liberty Horsemanship method, it was good for me revisiting the things I teach others in clinics with a new horse myself. He became very willing to please and I enjoyed thinking up new ways to work with him at liberty. Trailer loading at liberty.
He had grown a strong work ethic and enjoyed new challenges we call this a working bond.
I had some help on the ground and started him in riding, this he found a little exciting and he was prone to a spook. I continued to work on his focus ( One of the five strings of connection we grow with our horse) This was always and sometimes still is his ritual that needs returning to.
I helped him become straighter in his body and build up strength using liberty, lunging and in hand work. Had we not grown a working bond through time spent in the Waterhole rituals first I think this would have been much harder I was able to keep my boundaries around nibbles and work with him in a soft way. Force never works with horses we want to have them say yes to our requests so we must develop a working bond together if we wish to train them or ride them. I have had lesson with Joyce Mulder for many years and when I heard she was coming over to teach a clinic I jumped at the chance to take Chester. His least favorite thing is in hand work and I have had to take it very slowly with him I was looking forward to some pointers.
I had not taken him away from home since before Covid struck and never to a big busy yard. We would also be working in an indoor arena something we had never done.
He found it all very exciting but soon settled enough for me to get some nice lateral moves in hand and even some nice ridden work. I think going slightly out of our comfort zone and finding a way to work together in a strange environment has grown our working bond even more.
If you wish to have a harmonious relationship with your horse and build a strong ‘work ethic’ time spent building that at liberty where your horse has a choice may seem slow to start with but it makes everything take far less effort and becomes far more fun. Chester showing he can stay focused enough to offer some quarters in.