Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A Different Kind of Liberty Work

What makes Robin Gate's liberty work different is intent.  It's liberty relationship and liberty play. Its relationship.

Let me try to explain.

I'm an American rider, living in the Western United States so that frames my experience.  And there are exceptions to every rule as well as differences in experience, so you may see things a bit differently.  This is my view of what has framed my journey.

In the beginning... there were cowboys who needed broke horses real fast.  So they rode green horses into the ground, or tied them to posts, or beat them into submission (yes, yes, not all cowboys; I know that; stay with me).  These horses did their job, but they were broken, and didn't think humans were all that great.

(actually, before that you had some Native American tribes who had amazing relationships with their horses and did everything bareback and at liberty -- but it takes time to build those sorts of bonds and cowboys didn't have the time, or inclination, so they ignored the golden opportunity to learn true horsemanship).
Source: nativeamericanimages.net

More recently, there has been the Natural Horsemanship movement.  When Brett and I first brought our horses home to live with us fifteen years ago, we were intrigued.  We bought the stuff: the books, videos and special tack (halters, etc).  The exercises were called games, but they were dominance games, and they just didn't appeal to us.  If you read the books or watch the videos, there is a lot of talk about pressure and the horses are worked in a round pen until they give.  So, we gave away all our stuff and followed our own path.  (Again, there are exceptions -- Mark Rashid, for one).  For me, it was the path of dressage and achieving harmony through thought.  For Brett, it was building a bond through the sharing of new experiences in mounted patrol training and trail trials.

But, still I longed for that connection and bond that, I thought, maybe only exists in movies -- you know, the Black Stallion running on the beach, or the wild mustang who chooses to leave his herd because his bond is so strong with his human.  I wanted that.

And then I came across Robin.  She never uses a round pen.  She doesn't use pressure -- she uses push, yes -- but not pressure.  The horse can always choose to leave; can choose not to play.

When Robin works with a horse at liberty, she encourages them to express themselves.  She invites them to express their exuberance.  Here's a video of her working with some of her horses.  You can see the give and take, the conversation, the joy, and the bond.

This is what I want.  This is my dream and my deepest desire.  (besides Brett, of course)


  1. That looks like so much fun!

  2. I can totally feel your joy and excitement in these posts! I love it!

  3. An American in TokyoMay 24, 2017 at 5:17 PM

    That video is...wow...WOW!!!
    THAT is what I want as well, although probably difficult in my case as I don't have my own horse.
    I can't wait to see how your journey progresses!! I may end up following you and Robin as well!!


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