About two years ago I started doing liberty training with my at the time 19 year old Andalusian gelding, Ilustre. Ilustre is an incredibly athletic and intelligent horse with a willingness that never fails. Ilustre’s past is riddled with various training and riding styles. Since I have had him I have worked to improve our friendship. Around two years ago after seeing a friend perform with her liberty horse I wanted to know more. It was such an intriguing and beautiful performance. After consulting with the liberty trainer extraordinaire, Laura Amandis, to understand the basics of how to begin, I started into liberty training with Ilustre. He took to it quickly and was very eager to please. The liberty training is a very long process and takes quite a bit of patience from a trainers standpoint. Since the training requires a lot of repetition and time, liberty work is a great opportunity to spend time with your horse. The more time that you can spend with your horse in a pleasant, calm environment, the closer you can become as a partnership. The connection between Ilustre and I has gone to a whole new level. Where he and I see each other on a deeper level than any other style of training or groundwork can reach. Once the first step of the training is engrained, the truth of liberty training is clear. Liberty training above all others creates a desire within your horse to be with you. To come to you, to circle around you, to dance with you. Liberty training allows the horse to move and express himself not only to those watching but most importantly to you. The beauty in liberty training is that it can not only create an amazing relationship with your horse but does it in a light and simple way. Using body language and cues taught to the horse instead of harsh treatment, gizmos and gadgets. Any horse and any rider can benefit from liberty training. It has been an essential building block for Ilustre and I. Since Ilustre, I have done liberty work with many other horses and they have all benefited enormously from it.
Interested in learning how to get started doing liberty work with your horse? Contact me! Have a story about you and your horse working together at liberty? I’d love to hear from you!
Ilustre recently participated in the Midwest Horse Fair’s Equine Fashion Show. The weather was chilly (snow in April!) but it was still a fun time. Ilustre enjoyed strutting his stuff while wearing tack provided by Midwest English Tack. He also a modeled for a photo shoot with photographers Janice Fischer of Janice Fischer Photography (janicefischer.com) and Ivy Shexnayder of Equine Vision (equine-vision.com). With all this practice he is becoming quite an expert model!
However, as always his favorite part was greeting his adoring fans. He is always careful to stand perfectly still with his head down so that even the smallest little girl or boy can stroke his soft nose.
Recently, I have begun to teach Ilustre the Spanish trot. It has been a very enjoyable process for both of us. For Ilustre, it breaks up the routine, especially right now when we are stuck in the indoor arena until the ice melts. Andalusians, as a breed, are incredibly intelligent animals and Ilustre is no exception, so keeping things interesting is essential to his mental well-being. For me, it is enjoyable to watch the horse’s progress as he learns a new skill. It is important to keep things fresh. Too much repetition can lead to boredom and frustration for the horse. Learning new tricks is a great way to keep your horse’s brain engaged, and to keep things fun and interesting for both horse and rider. At twenty-one years old, Ilustre has proved that you can teach an old horse new tricks! Have fun with your horse!
“Depend on the Lord. Trust Him, and He will take care of you.” Psalm 37:5 (NCV)
My horse, Ilustre, truly was a gift from God. He came into my life in such a magical way. I have always loved horses, but could never afford one of my own. I’ve worked long hours to earn precious moments in the saddle. I felt such a strong longing to simply be around these magnificent animals. I will always remember that day, three and a half years ago, when I first saw a picture of the horse that would change my life. The photo showed a beautiful white Andalusian gelding. An Andalusian- the horse of kings! My very own Shadowfax! His owner was not looking to sell him. She simply wanted to find him a good home where he would be loved and cared for. I could never have afforded to buy such an incredible horse, and yet God took care of me. The very next day, Ilustre stepped off the trailer and into his new stall, and so the journey began. Ilustre’s name means “distinguished, renowned, or glorious”. He has certainly lived up to that! He has become a wonderful performance horse as well as an enduring partner. Ilustre has taught me so much about horses, relationships, spirituality, and life in general. It hasn’t always been easy. We’ve had our share of struggles along the way, but I’ve learned just as much-maybe more- from the bad times as the good. Through the spiritual relationship I have found with Ilustre, I have come to better know myself and better know God. I am so blessed to have him in my life.