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Move Like Mick Jagger… Feel like Mick Jagger

What in the world do I mean by that? Well it’s a fun (and apropos) way of describing the mind/body connection, and spirit/body connection that I enjoy exploring with Liberty play.

I have been developing in-hand collection, elevation and impulsion with a few of my horses, most specifically, my young feral horse named Banjo. What I have been doing, specifically, has been covered here to some degree in these diary posts and will be covered in more detail soon, no doubt, because we’re having a ball with it. The other evening we were playing with the in-hand work, at the trot, and I added a few cavaletti for Banjo to trot over- he is elevated, his hindquarters are lowering, his neck and jaw are showing a beautiful arc, and then I add some poles that will make him prance and dance as he’s moving, which adds just a little juice to his moves and his spirit. Now, here’s the part where you visualize Mick Jagger prancing around on stage like a rooster showing off his stuff.

After we were through playing (strutting) I put Banjo out with Hummer, who is the older, protector gelding in the herd, and Banjo goes over to him, and puffs up really big, arches his neck, stands very square and faces Hummer head on, muzzle to muzzle (Hummer is puffing up as well). Squeals and pounding the ground did not ensue on Hummer’s side, which was a surprise. After a few snorts and blowing, Banjo left the scene to explore the obstacle course that I had set out. A few moments later, I turned around to see Banjo standing with his front hooves on the pedestal. He was posturing again, arc’ing his neck and clearly enjoying the view from above (he’s a rather short horse). There is no doubt that he stepped up there to perpetuate the swagger that was permeating through his body due to our in-hand Liberty play together!

While this is a fun description of horse behavior, it’s actually speaking to a principle that I feel very strongly about- a joyful, spirited horse will move in ways that most handlers are delighted to experience with their horse. But rather than try to achieve these moves mechanically – remind your horse, through his body, what it feels like to move like a rock star… and then turn him free and let him “go there” on his own. Over time, it will take very little from the handler to call up the Mick Jagger (or Beyonce for all you mare owners) in your horse!

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