Three Relationships of Horse
These are not universal terms, but my definitions as taught by horses to me. Free Liberty, Leadership and Stewardship are three specific relationships with horse. A truly reciprocal relationship involves all three.
Free Liberty is when we and horse is free to BE and, ideally, we integrate into their herd on their own turf. We aren't there to change, direct or influence them or their environment. In fact, we are present and willing to receive their influence over us. We recognize them as unique, powerful, influential and healing beings that have the ability to impact us more than we might even believe is possible. Ife we are still enough and quiet enough to listen and receive what they genuinely desire to give. The Free Liberty relationship is appreciating horses for their own unique individuality and asking to be with them, so they may influence and guide us with their innate gifts and abilities. It is in the intentional Free Liberty setting that horses are able to fully engage with us and influence our awareness and healing to the greatest degree.
As a professional lifelong instructor of Compassionate Horsemanship and balanced seat riding, I am well aware of the empowerment and growth that comes from communicating and collaborating with horse when we ride and guide our horses (Leadership). However, it is when we give up this power role and Ask to Receive the love and healing from horse that we are most impacted at our soul level. The most empowering and fulfilling relationship we can have with horse, is one of mutual honor and respect as the fellow beings we are. When we humans recognize that we are, in fact, in the presence of greatness, become humble and get over our human superiority complex, we can truly take in the gift of unconditional love that horses are waiting to share with us!
Leadership is essential in a working relationship with horse that is safe, consistent and collaborative. The Leadership role is one that horses naturally recognize within the herd dynamic. in each unique horse relationship there is a leader and a follower, whether it be horse to horse or horse to human. When we put on a halter or saddle up, it is important for the wellbeing of all that we step into the role of Leadership. As leader, it is now our job to be responsible and set the boundaries and guidelines for a safe and pleasant interactive experience together with horse. If we do not step into the leadership role after we've climbed aboard or put on the halter, the horse will undoubtedly respond naturally by filling those uninhabited Leadership shoes. After all if you don't step up to the job, your horse will. Naturally! And not 'cause he's bossy, rude or belligerent, but because you haven't filled those boots and someone's gotta step up for your little herd of two!
As we step into the leadership role, our horse can then relax and so can we, as we both know we have a respectful and attentive horse by our side, looking to us for guidance and support. It's up to us, as leader, to intentionally communicate clearly, consistently, compassionately and safely. If these intentions are missing, we instead create a relationship of confusion and possible danger by not fully accept the responsibility and role of Leadership. Leadership of horse can be incredibly rewarding and empowering, for both horse and human. Together, with intentional guidance, you can achieve adventures and feats of prowess you dream into creation together. Whether it's climbing a mountain to look at the sea or barrel race at high speeds, the respectful friendship of horse is truly one of life's precious gifts.
Stewardship is the relationship of responsibility we assume when we bring horses into our lives. It is our duty to provide for the needs of a Happy Horse*. Our horses give so much, not because they have to, but because they are the most compassionate and giving creatures on earth. It is through their grace that they give us all that they do. For if they wanted to tromp us into the dirt and fly over our spindly fences, they certainly could. Instead, they patiently, out of the love in their hearts, give, connect and share with us humans. So when we say 'Yes!" to this gift of horse, we also say 'Yes!' to providing the environment and care that gives them peace, joy wellness and safety.
This means sharing our love through touch, kindness, consideration and respect. This means providing a natural living environment with pastures where a horse can roam and graze and be the horse he was meant to be in the herd. This means ample food, fresh water and a clean, peaceful, safe living environment. This means proper consistent care of medical and practical needs such as grooming, worming and farrier care. Some of these needs, require our Leadership role to administer. Some of these needs can be provided in Free Liberty next to our horses. Committed Stewardship is part of a truly Reciprocal Relationship with a Happy Horse.