playing-at-liberty-with-my-horse

January 9th,  2014

By Karine Vandenborre

The Boomerang

The eigth and last connection exercise is called “The Boomerang”.  This is an active exercise, in which we invite the horse to run and play along with us.  Thus the horse has to be in a playful and energetic mood for it.  This can happen naturally, or you can try and spark this playful energy in your horse.

Why do you play "The Boomerang"?

It's actually about having fun and playing with each other.  This exercise fuels the fire of your horse. This energy is what fuels running, playing, and joyful bucking. However, you must practice this mindfully.

If you start this game in the wrong moment, if you play it too long or too many times, or you come across as aggressive rather than playful, the horse no longer experiences The Boomerang as a fun game but as something very annoying.

"Let's play together"

All connection exercises are done in a large arena or meadow. A large area is especially important with this exercise because you definitely don’t want to give your horse the feeling that you are chasing him. In a large space, you can play, be energetic and go crazy, because the horse can take his distance if he wants to. 

During this kind of play you should refrain from chasing your horse or staying too close to him. This will take the pressure off and let him know that it’s just a game. Your intention is very important here: it should be “let’s play together” and not about "now you have to run".

liberty training boomerang

The horse is free to choose

If you've been spending enough time on the previous connection exercises, you should now be at the point that your horse enjoys your company very much and that he happily follows you at liberty.  Then you can start inviting him to trot or canter away you, then inviting him to return to you.  The idea is similar to that of throwing a boomerang -- when you send your horse away in the right way, most of the time he will want to return.

Keep in mind that it's not an obligation but an invitation… Not a command but a game. 

Sometimes your horse will invite you to play along.
Sometimes you will invite the horse to play along.
Sometimes the horse will not want to play at all. 
That's fine. 
It's liberty, the horse is free to choose if he wants to play or not.