I am deeply impressed with what happened with Birgit's herd--all four of them--even though she started out planning to work with Neo alone. Her other horses watched her every move carefully, and clearly asked her to do Liberty Foundations with them. Even though the class focuses on the Six Liberty Foundations, the 'side affects' are what never fails to amaze me. It was as if Neo knew what I was going to teach, and in his first session, offered shared breath, before Birgit knew what it was. His behavior in the herd, along with the other Arabians, changed to a more peaceful, respectful way of living with each other. I think one of the crowning events happened a week ago when Neo, for the first time, carried Birgit in a collected canter, as he does on his own in the fields, as if Birgit had become a part of him as a centaur. They had become one.
Here is Birgit's story in her own words:
My first class with Ruella and her Liberty Foundations is almost finished, and I´m sitting in the porch with our cat on my knees, trying to summarize those fantastic weeks, with all I have learned and the changes it has made to me and our horses.
I met Ruella during a online call through HorseConscious, where she was talking about Walking a Horse Down.I had never heard about this and was very curious to hear what this was. And what she talked about during this hour made so much sense to me that I decided to join her in the first Liberty Foundations Online class.
I have been working my horses at liberty before, in addition to riding them, and have always considered this as a very important part of being with horses, as they only then have the chance to tell you if they like what you do with them, by joining you, or by walking away.
Those of you who have chosen to work your horses completely free sometimes , will have experienced that some things work fine, while others don´t. And I really have seen the question marks in my horses faces when my communication was kind of not understandable to them. So I really wanted to learn more; the goal is to reach my horses' level of communication in body language at some time!
Since the start of the class, many things have happened. I chose our herd's leading horse, Neo, a nine-year-old Arabian gelding, for the class. We have 4 Arabian horses, two mares and two geldings, living out all year round with a big shelter always available.
The first thing I did was the meditiation. I just sat down on a rock in the middle of their pasture, closed my eyes and thought about nothing else but the wind, the sun and earth, things I share with the horses, and about them as completely free. And all four horses came to me, one after the other, shared some time standing beside me and then left again for some eating. Neo came last, and he didn´t leave but kept standing beside me as long as I was meditating, about 20 minutes. I could feel the very strong bond I have with this horse.
(He came to our yard as a 3-day-old foal, as his own mother had refused to nurse him and tried to kill him. My mare had lost her foal the same week and she had milk, so we made a try to see if she would adopt this little colt. She adopted him without any doubt, and since then, he is with us.)
Later that day, my husband, son and I were repairing the fence, and Neo joined us during our work. This was nothing unusual; he loves us to be around, carrying away our tools or just holding them in his mouth. But today, he was satisfied just to be there, standing relaxed and watching our work without disturbing it. During the evening, I read Ruella's instructions for the first lesson a little better, so next day I did the meditation session with only Neo in the outdoor riding arena. I sat on a chair, enjoying the beautiful spring sunshine, and after a while, Neo came and placed himself beside me. After a short while, he started to breathe at the same frequency as I did (which is pretty much faster than he would do normally) so I turned my head towards him as I was so astonished about what he was doing. Suddenly he put his nose over mine, inhaling my breath and when he gently blew out his, I inhaled it. We did this for a while. I have never shared breath with a horse before, as I was not sure if horses like this. (I have seen a handler at an Arabian show blow into the nostrils of a stallion, and the stallion immediately bit his nose off!! But this was not a gentle blow at all; I guess he wanted to tease him in some way before going into the show ring.) What Neo did felt completely gentle and not dangerous, but it is quite tickling for all the hair he has around the muzzle! Thanks to Ruella's explanations, I now know why horses can offer people to breathe with them, and I was grateful for having got this knowledge! I also wonder how Neo knew that it now was the time to do this. He had never offered that before.
It was fascinating to do the first Walk Down, too. If Neo could talk as we do, he would have said "You finally got it!" or something in that way.
I have understood the enormous power of the meditation, and the contact you get with the horses during it, and I will always come back to it. The other Foundations, I´m learning right now; some I find very easy as the "Staking a Claim" around a food bucket; others I have to work on much more to get the energy right, in our case, not too much of it. Go and Come to Me was breathtaking but also almost a little scary with a very reactive horse like Neo; he was so glad and showed off with all the power he has. :-)
Since those first exercises, Neo has changed . We have an "everyday situation" where I open the gate to the grass pasture, where he as herd leader always was standing first in the gate. But to reach the pasture, the horses first have to walk thru a quite narrow corridor , about 50 meters long. As Neo is a very careful horse, he knows that the tigers would wait exactly there to get them all.... So he will not walk out but turn and run back if I do not go in front of him chasing potential tigers away. The mare in our herd, Jolinar, passes this passage without doubts; she leads the herd safely into the grass pasture without turns and no risk of all the horses get stuck in the small passage. If only Neo would let her go first, the problem would be solved. Since I´m practicing Liberty Foundations, I can ask Neo to step away from the gate,´and call the mare and let her go first. Before, Neo would have tried to fight with the mare for being first; now he trusts my advice. Isn´t that wonderful?? No doubt that those two horses still have an issue around herd leadership with each other, but this situation is solved for now. I'm very curious to see this develop in the future.
One more thing that happened with Neo during Liberty Foundations work. He suddenly started to canter in a wonderful, collected way, while ridden. The trot has been fine for quite a while, but the canter always was kind of flat. He is nine years old, and canters wonderful collected without a rider on his back. Something must have happened which made clear for him that this is quite nice to do with a rider, too!
I´m very, very glad that I joined Ruella's lessons, I love her careful teaching, and it is soooo important to have her available during the whole time of the seminar, sending questions, videos or whatever and get that personal coaching which is so enormously worthwhile.
For me, it is the difference between success and failure, to have a coach like Ruella so close and so interested in your learning. Otherwise it is easy to give up if things don´t work out immediately; it is hard to see your own mistakes sometimes, too. A video analysis of you with your horse brings so much clarity:-) Thank you very, very much, Ruella for this time, I already look forward to the follow-up advanced course in October! My herd of four and I will be ready!
An advanced class will be offered beginning October 6 for those who have completed the beginning online class or a clinic onsite at Spirit Horse Ranch.
Class sizes are limited for personalized attention. Your horses are waiting for you!
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Here are Birgit and Neo in their first submitted video showing their beginnings in Liberty Foundations. Students submit videos of their work and Ruella makes suggestions and assignments.
Birgit's sensitivity to Neo's spirited energy shows, as she guides him and gets the 'feel' for him. All levels of horse experience are welcome in the classes!
Online Horse Clinics: Do They Really Work? Yes, Yes, Yes!
Freedom for Wild Hearts is the Real Gift
Would you like your own free download of '10 Liberty Tips from Spirit Horse Ranch' and listen to Ruella's HorseConscious interview Birgit spoke of? You'll find those on the Home page! Enjoy!