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Liberty Workshop Resources

Training AT Liberty vs. FOR Liberty

  • Training AT liberty means working on the movements and exercises without tack

  • Training FOR liberty means using tack to establish ideas and work through the movements and exercises

Basic Liberty Groundwork Movements

  • Small and Large circles both directions w/t/c:

      To be able to control the size of the circle and the speed and direction of your horse

  • Whoa/ Stand:

      To be able to have your horse stand and to only move once given a release command

  • Waltzay/ spin on hindquarters:

      To be able to ask for a spin on the hindquarters in any position

  • Recall / Here:

      To be able to call your horse to you from a variety of distances and speeds


These are just the basic movements, any movement that can be done on a horse can be done at liberty. Most movements can be done either with your horse following you or with your horse working around you

Liberty Exercises

  • Look at Me

This is the first step in getting a consistent connection, you want to be able to say your horses name and have them give you their attention. The goal is to be able to ask for their attention and to have them give it to you until your release cue.

  • Follow the Horse

A great way to switch up the routine! In the space of your choice follow your horse in a similar fashion as another horse might. This is a great exercise to do in a pasture and is a good bonding exercise and way to see where your relationship is with your horse. The goal is for your horse to choose to acknowledge and interact with you.


  • Follow Me

A combination of the previous two exercises. First ask for your horses attention and then walk away and ask them to follow you.

  • Interact with Obstacles

Use the groundwork movements to navigate obstacles. Get creative! You can set up your own obstacle course using ground poles, cones, jumps, barrels, etc.. Or, you can use the natural landscape (water, trees, rocks, etc.).

  • Body Language Exercise

Choose a space that you are comfortable with. In this exercise the focus is on observing and learning about your horse and your connection with them. Play with different movements and energy levels and see how your horse responds to your body language. In this you are not trying to accomplish any specific movements but to observe the reaction and develop your connection with your horse. 

Techniques to Keep Exercises Interesting

  • Work in Different Spaces

Change up your routine by practicing in a variety of spaces: round pen, arena (indoor/ outdoor), a pasture, or traveling to different facilities


  • Add more distractions

Once you have made progress with keeping and maintaining your horses attention, start adding in more distractions.


  • Targeting your weak spots

One of the greatest benefits of liberty work can also be the most frustrating. Whatever you are struggling with or is a weakness in your program will become very prominent in your liberty work. This is a great opportunity to focus on that weakness and work on figuring out where it is coming from and developing it into one of your strengths.


Tips for Success

  • Don’t get frustrated. We build relationships by overcoming difficulties together

  • Most problems are rooted in connection and attention. This is the focus of liberty training. If you diligently maintain this focus you will keep making progress and these benefits will translate to your other disciplines.

  • You will gain better results if you work on getting your horse to listen to your small, quiet cues instead of relying on big, loud movements

  • Pay attention to how your horse responds to the different exercises and movements. Through observation you will discover your horses personality and find what rewards your horse likes

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