Hi again. Many people ask me how the Waterhole Rituals translate from the ground to the saddle. I think this is a good story that shows where the connection can go and how it can deliver tremendous results. In the YouTube clip below, you will see 21-year old Sophie go bridle-less for the first time. The rider in the film is 14-year-old Julie. The owner not clearly seen in the video is Kajsa Vikman. She has ridden Sophie for 8 years and has experienced some difficulties with her under saddle.
Kajsa began her relationship with Sophie when she was a difficult horse, rescued and in need of support. Primarily used as a trail/pleasure horse, she had her shortcomings but she also had many fine qualities. Sophie used to be a very high strung and nervous horse and still can be. She used to just ‘flip out’ and Kajsa wasn’t able to connect or communicate with her at all.
Kajsa remembers when she rescued her, the trainer at that time described her as having the attitude of a "delinquent teenager” as she was often wild and upset. When introduced to a new place, she would pace for 3 months straight. On the other hand, she had always been very communicative and enthusiastic and had a certain ‘joie de vivre.’ She was always willing to be in relationship with people and showed a tremendous amount of love, affection and willingness to be in partnership.
Kajsa then started to learn the Waterhole Rituals and when riding became an issue, she would share territory and work with Sophie on the ground to develop a more cooperative relationship. After many years of struggling with her horse and dealing with the changes associated with moving Sophie several times, Kajsa met Julie and her horse Butterfly. Julie began spending all her free time at the stable with the 2 horses and frequently shared territory with Sophie. Kajsa only had weekends to see her horse so this became a source of comfort for both horse and rider. Sophie got regular attention and Kajsa got rid of her worry about Sophie having enough well-being. Julie’s trusting nature is a great support to Sophie and her natural skill with horses allows her to be soft, relaxed and allow Sophie’s enjoyment of the activity.
It may very well be that even though Sophie has had regular dental work by a Vet specializing in equine dentistry, she is very uncomfortable with a bit in her mouth and her pulling was related to an extreme condition of discomfort. Whatever the case, what is demonstrated now in this video is relaxation, freedom, a desire to communicate, an enthusiastic response and well-being.
When I spoke with Kajsa about her experiences with Sophie, she made it clear that Sophie has had a very different attitude about being ridden in the past and now Julie is riding her without any tack at all...not even the neck rope. This is what is possible when there is a deep bond, magnetic connection and a volunteered performance.