Horse photography and Equine Liberty Sports Clinic
I had the opportunity to go to an Equine Liberty Sports Clinic on April 16th, 2016 by the clinician, Leslie Nichols. I learned more than I expected about how to connect with a horse without using a halter and lead line. She did use some aromatherapy to get the horses attention and some gloves with bells sewed on to interest one of the horses. Mostly though she used the horses way of communicating that they are most familiar with already, their sense of curiosity.
Establishing trust with your horse.
I really wanted to see this connection she creates with horses and then see if it translated into good and moving horse photos, which of course was my main reason to attend. Watching her interact with two horses that she had just met and asking them to follow her around with trust. I understood when Leslie talked about connecting and playing with your horse. The horses were free to meander, nibble on some weeds, look over at the other horses and of course connect with her. She talked about how she was establishing a trust level with them by just letting them be and do what they wanted without being wrong. It was a way of communicating and letting the horse find the value of connecting with her and then their owner.
Asking your horse to dinner.
I like the way she went over to the weeds with the horse and act like she was eating with him. He was so curious to see what she was doing. He put his nose over to her hands and sniffed out what she was eating. Even though it was the exact same thing that he was eating it was really funny to watch him sniff it as if it might be something completely different that she was eating. Later on she used the same technique that the horse was displaying again. She could see that the horse was using his upper lip to play in the dirt and so she crouched down and played in the dirt with her hands too. Connection! The horses curiosity was aroused and the bond of trust was established again over that moment.
Why do I need this kind of trust with my horse?
Think of a veterinarian coming out to do an intrusive procedure for the horse. Now imagine that the veterinarian just starts chatting away with the owner and the horse begins to feel relaxed and trusting of the atmosphere around them because the people are at ease as well. It just turns things around for everyone involved. It is the same with trailering your horse or having the farrier come out or any event where your horse needs to be more connected and trusting.
Horse photos in the clinic.
I mentioned that I attended to take some horse photos. I thought it was pretty nice to witness this connection between Leslie and these horses whom she had only met that day. It was an incredibly windy and cold day for April. I was freezing but the horses connected and gave her their attention anyway. Wind can typically stress a horse causing them to fidget around, lose focus, and be anxious, just to name a few behaviors that could come out. I could see through the lens that the horses were interested in her hands, body movement, following her through figure eights. I noticed that the horses looked relaxed. I noticed that they extended their heads easily with confidence that they were welcome into the space between them. This clinic was just an introduction to her gentle and unique style of Natural Horsemanship. I am looking forward to photographing Leslie as she interacts and dances with her own horses through more advanced sessions of Equine Liberty Sports.