A few months back, a friend of mine introduced me to the work of Robin Gates. Robin is a certified trainer in the Carolyn Resnick method, and the videos on the two sites are amazing. THIS is the kind of relationship I want with my horses!
Actually, the horses and I already have already begun to develop the kind of mutual trust and affection that the Resnick method produces. After all, it’s not like there’s one and only one way to do anything in this world. But what I like about it is that it gives a series of steps, a method, that seems likely to expedite the process.
Carolyn’s DVD describes the basics of what she calls the “Waterhole Rituals,” which are the foundation of the work. I’ve decided to begin working on those with all three horses. Over the next few months, I’ll report on our progress.
At the moment, Galahad and I are doing “sharing space”: just hanging out together. It’s something I knew would be helpful even before getting the book. Galahad and I are doing it a little bit differently, though: Because our small arena is being roofed and the main arena is rather large and muddy, we’re working right out in the big pasture with the rest of the herd. I’ve been sitting out there on a small stool, reading or watching or meditating, just BEING THERE with him.
While I’m sitting there, he comes over once in a while to check on me, hangs out for a minute or two, then wanders off. No treats involved here, either—I don’t want him (or the others!) nosing me just to get carrots or cookies. This “join-up” needs to be completely voluntary on Galahad’s part—that’s the point.
This work will demonstrate the strength of our relationship, and let me watch it change over the course of days or weeks. I believe it will deepen our bond, and I’m hoping to get to know him even better, not just as a riding companion but as a himself, an autonomous being with his own personality, desires, and needs.
It’s been fun to watch how he interacts with his herdmates and find out who the herd leaders really are, what the sub-groups are, and what the horses do during the day. It’s very calming for me, and that in itself is a blessing!
I’ll share our experiences with you here, and we may want to incorporate some of these activities in the work I do with you, my clients.