Anyone know a thing or two about liberty?

Recently I’ve been trying to work with my horse on the ground a bit more. I think it’s just as important as riding! I’ve always been totally mystified by horse and trainer teams who practice liberty. I’ve looked into natural horsemanship before but I don’t like the sound “pressure and release”. I’m more of a positive reinforcement kind of rider!

Anyway, my question is: does anyone do liberty or some kind of NH with their horse? Any tips, ideas, or even exercises to get my horse to respond to me better?

I have the Caroline Resnick DVD and it’s a rather interesting approach. Certainly far preferable to most of the NH types, IMO.

But, really, most of what we do with horses is pressure and release. No escaping that (and I don’t understand why you would want to?).

My boy walks/runs after me. Stops when I stop. And when I tell him to trot around, he does it. I tell “change of rein” and he goes the other way. I whistle, he comes to me.

Never watched any DVDs, read books or anything. He knows the commands from lunging. I got him to follow me around after 30 minutes in a round pen with a box of sugar when he was three :winkgrin:

Carolyn Resnick hands down has the best liberty training method going. Sign up for her blog!

http://www.carolynresnickblog.com/

Pressure and release is a positive reinforcement training technique? The release of pressure when the horse gives the desired response is the positive reinforcement (reward)? Perfectly effective and humane method of training (that has many, many different variations) that has been used successfully for ages unless you ratchet up the “pressure” to a point the horse blows…am I crazy or reading the OP wrong? The "but I don’t like the sound “pressure and release” and “I’m more of a positive reinforcement kind of rider!” makes me think of the “I’m going to give my horse cookies every time it does something I think is cute” mindset.

If you’re still finding your way with your horse and its training try a few different methods and determine what works best for your horse. If you want to go the NH route there is plenty to chose from but I think nearly every training method out there is going to utilize some sort of pressure and release technique to some degree. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to training, just gotta get to know the horse you are working with and adapt your methods to suit that particular animal.

It is quite easy.

My horses are taught to face up (come when called) and to stand still (don’t need to be tied, then touching all over.

They must walk before I walk. They must halt before I halt.

So a click and they walk forward. Say Halt and they halt. A thumb on their chest and the word back and they back. Always 2 signals for back.

So without the halter you click and they walk forward, you say halt and they halt. For back they also learn that the word back and a tug of the tail means to step off a float and the word back and waving my finger side to side means back.

So if I am on horse back and want to go through a gate and a horse is on the other side of the gate, I can say back and wave my finger, they step back from the gate and I can open and go through it on my horse.

To catch, I call the horse. I usually do put on a halter but I don’t need to. I walk to the next gate and say halt. I open the gate. I click. The horse walks through the gate. I close the gate. Step to the horses shoulder, click and they walk beside me to the house, where they then stand to be groomed and tacked without being tied.

[QUOTE=GaitedGloryRider;7934353]“I’m going to give my horse cookies every time it does something I think is cute” mindset.
[/QUOTE]
Agree, OP needs to understand a horse is NOT a big dog.

In a technical sense, no. It’s negative reinforcement. You’re removing a stimulus (pressure) in order to increase the likeliness of a certain behavior occurring again.

I suppose you could consider that you’re presenting a “rest period” (positive stimulus) in order to increase the likeliness of a certain behavior occurring again. In that sense, you could consider it positive reinforcement.

“I’m going to give my horse cookies every time it does something I think is cute”

A quote from Dr. Sophia Yin’s website that I always liked:

What’s special about horses? One important reinforcer for horses and other herd animals that is not a reinforcer for dogs and cats is rest. As a result, when working on an exercise with a horse, goat, or cow, as soon as it performs the exercise correctly, you can reward it by letting it rest for an amount of time equal to the time and effort the exercise took.

Carolyn Resnick uses all positive reinforcement. No pressure and release. Her method is very different than any other out there. No clicker but lots of food. The food is used as a tool to instill politeness.

It is a wonderful and VERY effective method. It takes a great deal of time and is not for beginners.

My horses all do some form of liberty work just sort of naturally. Post ride we always clean up the indoor and they follow me and respond to verbal and non verbal commands. Sometimes we do a little trot at liberty and sometimes I send them out and bring them back in. I wouldn’t call it training though, they respond to body language and most horses will have the same reactions. I do it for fun and sometimes it helps to see how much a horse is really with me vs. worried about their pasture mates etc.

The “pressure and release” method seems to work the best for horses. Some horses do alright with the treat method, but just as many (in my experience) get to greedy. Keep in mind, ‘pressure’ is not necessarily abuse. As an example, when teaching a nervous horse to stand at the mounting block, I place the mounting block near them and ask them to stand for say a count of three, then I tell them they good, take a few steps back myself and allow them/ask them to walk a small circle at the end of the lead or reins. I am putting pressure on the horse by being close to the horse and making it stand. By moving away from the horse, I am taking that pressure away. At the same time, I will not correct if the horse moves away from the block on it’s own. The time next to the block increases gradually. Usually this exercise is precipitated by a horse that tends to move off when mounted and it has taken me from 5-20 minutes to “cure” a horse from moving off.

This is negative reinforcement, as mentioned by Peaches and seems to be the best way to get lessons to stick in horses’ heads. With the treat method, it seems to take longer for the lesson to stick and they tend to forget the lesson when other things are going on.

No, no, no, not in the scientific sense. Pressure and release is negative reinforcement., which does not mean there is anything wrong with it. Negative as in minus, -, removing something, taking something away, thus increasing the likelyhood of the behavior being repeated.

[QUOTE=Frizzle;7933943]I have the Caroline Resnick DVD and it’s a rather interesting approach. Certainly far preferable to most of the NH types, IMO.

But, really, most of what we do with horses is pressure and release. No escaping that (and I don’t understand why you would want to?).[/QUOTE]

I actually used to to pressure and release methods with an old school horse, but y horse is very sensitive so just looking for some alternatives!

And I realize my horse is not a dog, don’t fret. When I work with my horse I do not use treats, but when he does what I ask I scratch him in his favourite spot and give him some rest. I would never let my horse get into bad habits and if I start to see him slip into him, I stop it immediately. He doesn’t get away with much.

Mine don’t get away with any thing either.

Mostly I use uh uh and good boy or good girl.

OP, what kind of “Liberty” are you interested in?
The term is used by various trainers to describe different things.
You have this kind:
http://youtu.be/AVXs1GKlVIM

or this kind:
http://youtu.be/w88utnr2m5U

or this:
http://youtu.be/KP-7U14bx5Y

or this:
http://youtu.be/oJgfHkNB8jI

or this:
http://youtu.be/TnhcgKbgyLs

I’m not at a barn where true liberty is possible, but I do, at the end of many rides, get off, run up the stirrups, keep the reins over the mare’s head and just ask her to stay with me (her neck at my shoulder) as we wander around the indoor. I do lots of halts, backs, tight turns, speeding up and slowing down the walk, etc. Just moving into her space if I need to. “Good girl” and scritches are the rewards (if I have treats, she’s too distracted by trying to figure out how to get them.) If she doesn’t get it we just start over. The reins ARE there for me to grab if I need to (don’t want to freak out my barn-mates too much!), or if I need to up the pressure a little, and I have a dressage whip as an extension of my arm if needed.

We aren’t ever going to win a showmanship class, but it’s a lot of fun in a very low-key way.

(It helps that she’s lazy, and usually pretty relaxed at the end of a ride.)

Or this kind.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qD6A0PxX6TQ

Based on a few of the above posted videos, it appears that some form of mental illness and a really poor fashion sense are prerequisites for liberty training. Also, guys must have long hair (maybe to match the long, flowing locks of their steeds?). :lol:

(Admittedly, I only watched a little bit of each video, but several of them looked pretty cray!)

[QUOTE=onhorseback;7935069]I actually used to to pressure and release methods with an old school horse, but y horse is very sensitive so just looking for some alternatives!
[/QUOTE]

But just about everything we do with horses includes pressure and release–riding, leading, etc. That’s why I’m thinking you’re not really understanding the concept fully.

Frederik and Jean-Francois are fabulous! If you think that kind of training is done by someone who is mentally ill that is your problem! It takes years and those horses are having FUN!!