Working at Liberty
Orla here, jumping in with one of my own helpful tips for growing that bond with your horse. Over the last few months I have started to work with Coco at liberty. For me, this essentially means that I let her off in the arena to wander and do her own thing. It originally started as a way for me to get some energy out of her without keeping her confined to a small space meaning she’s much less likely to hurt herself. But it has now turned into more of a bonding exercise for us.
I start these sessions by sending her off to go for a trot and a canter around the arena. This usually turns into a full on gallop run until she decides she’s ready to calm down. When I first started doing this, she would stop and stay out around the outside of the arena but the more we did it, the more she gradually started to come into me in the middle of the arena instead. It was like when she decided she was done having her fun, she was ready to come in and spend some time with me. From there I could walk anywhere around the arena and she would follow me. She’s gotten better and better each time and we are working our way up to her following me over jumps but it’s incredible how much of a difference it’s made. For such a basic exercise, it is quite effective. I definitely feel like she has much more trust in me now.
If you have the opportunity this is definitely something I would recommend trying. Of course liberty work can go so much farther than what I’ve detailed here. Coco has responded so well to what we’ve done so far, I’m contemplating learning more about it and maybe seeing how far we can go with it. But for now, Ill be happy to keep doing our little bonding sessions.