Someone the other day asked me if I did liberty with Red after seeing various photo's of me riding Red tackless. I replied with a big, fat and bold "NOPE". I do, however, practice natural horsemanship. As little iron as possible. I want a bond with my horse.
Here's the thing, having a bond with your horse should never be a discipline of it's own. Riding bareback isn't a discipline because you can still ride "english" when riding bareback and vice versa. It's in the cues and the way you ride and the way your horse walks, trots, canters, etc. I don't really know what my discipline is. For now, I'm a trail rider. I ride in parades, etc. I do some ranch work here and there, I ride my horse tackless and bridleless just for the fun of it, I don't show right now but I'm thinking about possibly showing some day soon. I guess you could call me more of a pleasure rider. I ride English and Western now, but I'm still mostly Western and I don't consider myself an English rider quite yet.
The most important thing to me is the bond between myself and my "pony". I don't want him to dread seeing me, or run away from me, or bite me in order to get me away. I don't want him to hate seeing the saddle, Western or English, because he hates working
When I first met Red, he ran away from us in the pasture. I mean he booked it. Bucked, reared, squealed, anything to stay away away away. We had to corner him in the round pen and I slipped his halter on with shaking hands, after all, I wasn't used to being around them, let alone being around a huge horse that did NOT want to be caught!! Flash forward about a year, and he runs to me in the pasture, even when he sees my tack. He does this everytime he sees me:
Just because he likes me.I posted that same photo on Instagram and was asked so many time "how did you teach him that trick?" and it's NOT a trick, people. That's what liberty is right now. The horse doesn't hug or kiss you because it wants to, on it's own free will, it does it because they know there is a treat in it for them. It's a trick. Not to say all "liberty" riders are like that, because they aren't. But the majority are. I don't ride tackless because I believe tack is evil or to get attention or whatever, I do it because I trust my horse 100% to take care of me, to stand when I need him to and to be calm without his hackamore. I do it because I love him and I have a bond and I know he loves me back.
I will NEVER call this a discipline because it is a bond, a relationship and I have to work for that, yes, but it isn't taught.
A bond can't be taught, they have to learn that they can trust you to hop on their back, to let you come close. It's not a discipline.