When someone says, “liberty work” many different images pop up for different people. Some people think of a 50 ft round pen and a lunge whip and others think about a 10-acre grass field and no tools at all. For me, liberty work is about the connection I can form with my horse. The word liberty means freedom and in my horse relationships, freedom is important. I should be free to express myself as should my horse. I am not saying freedom of expression is a free for all, but that freedom exists within the boundaries of our relationship which are outlined through a respect for one another. It should not matter where we are or what tool I have in my hand, what matters is the conversation that is occurring between us.
Over the last year, liberty work for Bentley and I has taken a back seat as we have both been working through injuries, grief and the process of moving across the country. For a while I was feeling guilty about this shift as it is something that we both really enjoy, but as we have begun to focus on liberty again over the last few weeks, I am grateful for the viewpoint that the break gave to us. I realized just how important liberty work can be for a relationship and why it is so important to focus on.
So, why do I share this? Well, two reasons…
Reason 1: To try to convince you to play at liberty with your horse.
Do not think too hard about what it should look like, just do it. Keep your intention clear and your patience level high and just explore what you and your horse can do. Of course, keep you and your horse mentally and physically safe. If safety means working on opposite sides of the fence, do it. If safety means carrying a whip, do it. Just pay close attention to how your actions, thoughts and intentions influence your horse and how your horse’s actions, thoughts and intentions influence you.
Reason 2: To share one example of how emotions can offer new perspectives and opportunities for growth.
It is a weird time to be alive. COVID-19 has drastically changed our everyday lives. The uncertainty of tomorrow, next week and next month is overwhelming. Many of us are feeling anxious, concerned or just plain out of it and that is OK. We have every right to process through this crisis in whatever way we need to. My challenge to you is to recognize your thoughts and feelings and to think about what new perspective they may offer to you. Think about how your experience during this crazy time can help you grow and learn. What is different now that you want to remain different for you after COVID-19? What has stayed true throughout the ups and downs of the last few weeks?
Our journey with our horses (and bigger picture our journey with our lives) comes with a huge variety of experiences, some that are way more enjoyable than others. Part of the magic of living is the ability we have to respond to these experiences. We are in control of how we respond and even better, we have the liberty to change our responses. So, in this time of great uncertainty and craziness, try not to panic, instead take it all in, feel it, and respond accordingly.
Inspiration for Liberty Work:
Pat & Linda Parelli-
Resources for COVID-19 Stress Relief:
General Information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html
Free Online Yoga: www.yogawithadriene.com