One of my passions is watching Cat training her horses at liberty. For those of you who don’t know what that means, it is when the horse works without any bridle, halter, lead rope, or any other restraints:
It’s beautiful to watch, like poetry in motion. Cat has been specializing in liberty training for several years now…first with Monche (seen in the video above) and later with her other Extreme Mustang Makeover mustangs, Bella, Minnie, and Beau. She has also worked with other mustangs, both hers and clients’ horses. Perhaps not to the extent of her own horses, but Cat incorporates liberty training in all of her mustangs and horses. It’s important to her that she has that connection with the horse. She feels that a horse willing to work without restraint is a horse that is better trained to work period.
There is a connection between Cat and her horses that comes naturally. Others often try to emulate some of her maneuvers and techniques, which is wonderful for the horses in training and flattering to Cat. What is missed, however, is that mastering a jump or trick is not what it’s all about.
What Cat would love to offer other trainers who enjoy what she does is help achieving the connection that she works so hard to establish with her horses. That is, unfortunately, something that comes with time and time alone.
Cat always says that she refuses to rush training of her horses because, frankly, no one likes to be rushed. No one benefits from it. So, instead, Cat works fourteen hour days with one and only one goal: connecting with her mustangs. And, in order to have that connection, training cannot be forced or expedited.
This past weekend, we attended a wonderful clinic by a great young trainer who made a comment that some horses learn faster than others. So very true. When Cat trained Digby, her Georgia TIP Challenge horse, she taught him to lay down in one session. Other horses take longer.
Trainers have to learn how to read the horse and that only comes with time to establish a connection between the trainer and the horse.
The other important thing is to not skip steps. Foundation training is what everything else is built upon. Touching, haltering, feet, leading, lounging, stopping, backing up, loading, even bathing…mastering all of these simple things are often overlooked in order to get to the finish line first. But in the long run, the horse suffers.
Take the time to connect with your horse. Groundwork. Grooming. Playing. Anything that includes learning about your horse and becoming part of its life is the first and most important step in connecting…and the foundation for all of the work that will follow.