Happy first day of Autumn! Yay! It's my favorite season. One glorious day after another. Of course, today it decided to rain, but it is welcome rain.
I continue to work with Tumbleweed on At Liberty and reinless work. I was at the park a couple of days ago, and I ran into a woman and her daughter. The woman was riding her appaloosa with a neck rope, but nothing else. She was leading a yearling off of the appy while doing this, and she was out in the open taking them through the obstacle course.
I stopped my work with Tweed and told her how impressed I was with her horsemanship. She told me her appy was only 7, and she got her free from a woman who couldn't handle her. In fact, she had never paid for a horse, (except the yearling she was leading), because she gets all her horses in the same situation and then spends many hours gentling them and providing forever homes. The black appy her daughter was riding (skillfully) had also been a horse someone gave up on six years ago.
You could see the love the horses had for their handlers--mom and daughter. They'd go anywhere for them. I watched them on the ground, and I watched them in saddle. It was truly amazing.
I picked her brain some more, and was pleasantly surprised at what so easily poured out, wisdom, and understanding of the horse. She made sure to tell me she set very clear boundaries with her horses, too. When needed, she had to be tough. Her dream is to go to a place where there are wild horses, gentle one in a day, and ride it out without saddle and bridle--completely free. She said it is her ultimate goal, and I think she can achieve that miracle someday.
I told her what I was trying to accomplish with at liberty, and she said if she had one piece of advice to give me it is to work with a neck rope. It gives them the freedom to leave, but also helps you direct them and stay connected when you need it. (I ordered a neck rope, though she had fashioned her own from a lead rope.)
I didn't ask her name, but afterward I put feelers out among my horse friends and quickly identified her. Now I know her name, and I hope we cross paths again.
I told her my goal is to aim for where's she's at with her horse with Tweed. She laughed and said, "Aim higher, there is so much more."
Ahem, more good advice from a kindred spirit.
Here we are working on the pattern we will do "at liberty", but with a lead rope (these photos are from last week), to teach it to Tweed. We walked a circle, then walked to the inside of the circle and asked him to switch sides, then back onto the circle the other way. We have tried it at liberty, but he tends to wander off when I ask him to switch sides. (I really need a neck rope to guide him.)