True liberty with horses, says Jonathan Field, is much more than simply removing equipment and stepping outside the pen or arena: It is moving with your horse, communicating only with intention, and creating a seamless, smooth, and rhythmic dance.
“When you do liberty right, you become one with the herd,” he writes in his brand new book THE ART OF LIBERTY TRAINING FOR HORSES. “And not only do you develop an amazing connection with your horse, but it’s one of the most fun things you will ever do.”
In THE ART OF LIBERTY TRAINING FOR HORSES, Jonathan provides a series of step-by-step exercises to move progressively from training your horse on line (with halter and lead), to loose lessons in the round pen, to playing together in wide, open spaces and (tempting!) grassy fields. Over 350 gorgeous color photographs taken on his breathtaking ranch in British Columbia illustrate his methods, ensuring that readers can see his concepts in action and apply them at home with their own horses.
Here Jonathan explains the relevance of his Connected Shaping Circle Exercise from THE ART OF LIBERTY TRAINING FOR HORSES:
The Connected Shaping Circle combines elements of all the previous exercises—Path, Speed, Bend, and Balance, as well as active neutral—and will really tell you if your body language, or intent, is working. This is a challenging exercise because you will be giving aids to multiple body parts at once.
You must have a balance of drive and draw to get the Connected Shaping Circle to work correctly. It carries with it the delicate balance of asking a horse to leave on a circle, but not leave mentally; to move away, but not leave you. If you give aids correctly, your horse will connect with you while traveling on a circle with a bend in his body that matches the curve of the circle. He will also be feeling back for you and the rope will be slack as if you were at liberty.
At this stage, there is another concept you need to understand: I call it “press to connect.”
Imagine having an amazing conversation with an old friend over coffee. You are so excited to catch up with each other that your drinks grow cold as they sit untouched. Neither of you care, you are so caught up in chat.
What would your body language be like with your friend? Likely, you would both lean in toward each other, making the conversation easier and more intimate.
The Connected Shaping Circle is that conversation with your horse. There is a reciprocal “feel” between two individuals: a leaning in that’s not seen as pressure. I call this “press to connect.”
Learn how to do the Connected Shaping Circle—and other progressive exercises—in Jonathan Field’s new THE ART OF LIBERTY TRAINING FOR HORSES, available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.