My favorite part about liberty work is that once you take away the tack, a whole new level of connection arises. She knows that she can leave/check out at any time. (Sometimes she does! Haha) But when we’re riding bareback and bridleless and she’s totally in tune with me, it’s the greatest feeling ever.
Adding R+ training into my method has made a world of difference for this mare. She tries so hard for me and knows that there’s more in it for her than just the release of pressure. She truly engages a lot more and enjoys learning new things, trying to please.
When using R+ training, however, it is very important that it is used correctly. When working with Ella, I reward the smallest try and improvement by clucking my tongue to signal the correct behavior or movement. Then I reward with a treat. I am always aware of her body language, making sure that she never gets pushy. She knows to stay out of my space, and that I will come to her with the reward. This is also beneficial when doing certain movements. If I say “whoa,” I don’t want her to move from her position just wanting the treat. I make sure that she is still, or I will ask for it again and only reward for her remaining still. This will help in fine tuning our liberty movements. I want to be able to move and stop each part of her body.
Once a horse understands these concepts, the possibilities are endless!