Liberty - A Simple But Not Easy Balance of Draw and Drive
Liberty ..The most unearthly and wonderful feeling of connection. A predator and prey animal , so close that breathing becomes one. The silent nuances of draw and drive make it seem effortless, as the cues are invisible. The subtleties of the movements have taken time to establish but reap the rewards of the highest connection with a horse.
So where do we start? I think it important to know that Liberty is the balance of Draw and Drive but actually starts with lots of practise at "Draw". There are very specific exercises that we can practise that establish this first most important component. After all, if our horse does not want to be with us when we untether him, then we have an internal problem where a solution has to be found first.
This bond between horse and human has to be there. Then we have to monitor it so that it is as strong as the invisible line that is no longer attached between us. It is a willingness and a trust in you that far surpasses your horse following you around in the arena.
Now, this is not a bad thing and is a good starting point, but one needs to understand that when our horse is following us, it lacks the level of conversation that you both need together for Liberty. Horses are followers, so for most this is an easy and comfortable thing for them to do with you. Start there but then understand how the pieces of "Draw" first, followed by "Drive" exercises are what the concrete part of Liberty is all about.
So after you have your horse following you, start with "Draw" exercises and lots of them. Keep your sessions short and Don’t get “greedy”. Small things will build larger things if you quit at the right time.
There are specific exercises and patterns that help to develop “Draw” which again has to come first. You need to know the strength of the bond between you and your horse. The draw tests this first before you move onto the “Drive”. Exercises like Mirror Me, Inside Turns, Having Your Horse Catch You, Hindquarter Yields, Draw Using Steady Pressure are just a few exercises to get really, really good online first before trying them without your Training Line attached.
With the “Draw” in place, we balance this with fitting in a few “Drive” exercises, slowly one at a time. Lots of "Draw" and a little "Drive" is the way to go here, but eventually the “Draw” and “Drive” will become equal to each other and just become part of the dance.
Exercises that you might start to play with the “Drive” are Forehand Yields, Outside Turns, Responsibility Circles, The Weave etc.
The most difficult feature of the Send is that you are sending your horse away. It's oh so easy for your horse once you send your horse’s nose away from you, that he keeps ongoing, but even if that happens there is always testing the “Draw” back to you. Sometimes your horse just needs to go and of course, if he needs to leave you then should feel free to do so. It is this freedom that adds to the partnership as trust continues to grow.
As this same pattern continues through practise it becomes very transparent that the draw once again is the most important component.You won’t be successful with a “Drive” without a good “Draw” but you won’t know about the strength of your ”Draw” without testing your “Drive”.Your breath, your feet, and your energies will harmonize, and the beauty of the flow of liberty will show only the subtleties of “Drive” and “Draw”.
As you watch Dreamer and I in this short segment watch for the number of times I “Draw” and the number of times I “Drive”? Can you see where I switch? Can you see where my Intention is directed? Can you see the harmony?
Everyone can do this with enough knowledge, practise and desire. Do you need treats, absolutely not, if it coming from one heart to the other heart?
Start out small, seek the knowledge, and then take the line off to see where you both are. It might surprise you.