Liberty Longing takes place in the round pen without the lead and is practiced on the rail at different gaits. Liberty longing differs from round penning in the intention and intensity. It should be done in a relaxed way. It’s goal is not to take control from a horse or to establish a leader position. That should already be accomplished. It is done to fine-tune his way of going, build body muscle in all of the right places, and to maintain smooth gaits and transitions.
Aukara, in the video below, is practicing her trot and verbal whoa. She has lived a life of brood-mare leisure and has not practiced any exercises at all for over a year. She doesn’t forget, but she is a little “relaxed” to put in a smart performance.
Without the encumbrance of saddle or rider, you can practice moving from one gait to another (transitioning) and from one direction to another with the full visibility of how your horse is using his mind and his body. Is he balanced in both mind and body?
You can see whether he is tracking well and smoothly, whether he is using his back with a nice low head rather than hollowing out with head and neck carried too high. What frame of mind is he in? Is he relaxed and easy or strung out and hyper?
What is tracking? The hind hoof print should replace the front hoof print at any gait. Although this horse could put more back into his stride (his head is a little high), he is tracking very nicely.
If a horse is relaxed and balanced, he is carrying himself with a rhythmic, self-carried movement. His movement is being pushed from under his pelvis, engaging his rear and core, spreading his vertebrae, elongating his head and neck down to stretch his top line rather than being dragged by his front. It is hard for a novice to see. It took me a very long time to understand the motion of the back, and I am still not an expert at seeing proper movement.
This is one of the best videos I have seen to understand how to evaluate your horse’s movement and conformation in the trot and from the trot to the canter.
See this horse stretching his top line to open up the vertebrae and balance his body.
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