"Ultimately, I am looking for horses that will assist me to assist them to be, do or have whatever they need or want and also assist me in making a difference for other people and horses. I keep a tally board of voluntary participation in different activities so it is quite obvious who likes what. Most thrive, excel and achieve their needs and wants. If a horse doesn’t like or function in this arrangement I find them a home more suited to what they like."
- Michelle Dennis
Click on the word JUMP to see a great clip of teaching jumping AT LIBERTY. Here is another clip from her DVD:
Here is yet another way to communicate with horses, allowing them to express themselves quite freely.
Michelle's website explains how she developed a relationship with her home herd. She lives with the horses on the property, and has cues for when she will play with them. The horses have adequate food and water by grazing and supplemental hay. To have access to "extra" feed, many have learned to show up when they hear the stock whip (they are on 40 acres, it has to be something that will carry sound), and willingly participate in learning new games and useful tasks.
They will follow her for up to an hour, doing different things. Those who participate are fed after playtime, they have learned to go pick up their own feed bag (nosebag), bring it to her, and calmly get their extra ration. Any horses that exhibit disruptive behaviors are shown the gate and kept out of the feeding area. Needless to say, it is a rare thing, and usually only due to being a newcomer learning the rules.
Seeing the bond that can happen when quality time is shared between species who allow one another equal parts in the conversation has shown so many new possibilities. What new things has your horse shown you lately?