Starting my Horse, Dutchy, in the Carolyn Resnick Method by Lauri Parker

I have known Carolyn Resnick since 1990 when I took three horses to her ranch for a clinic. That was the start of a friendship which has now spanned nearly a quarter of a century. That clinic and many subsequent lessons were responsible for a total paradym switch in the way I now train and work with horses. Photo by Lauri ParkerThis brings me to the present when I am now engaged in starting a just-turned-three year old Gypsy Vanner filly, Dutchy, lovingly referred to as “My Dog Spot”. After researching the Gypsy breed, I flew to Abingdon, VA, where I purchased Dutchy, a darling coming to two-year-old filly with a huge heart and even bigger personality. Upon being introduced to Dutchy, I took her to an arena and turned her loose. Starting through the 7 Waterhole Rituals just to see who she was, it took about 15 minutes for her to join me in companion walking. There was an instant connection and I had my heart horse.

This is a filly who is hungry for interaction and hungry to learn, so I believed that the Waterhole Rituals in depth was a perfect way to start our training program. As I knew there would be quite a long time before I would be able to actually begin riding her, I decided that the Waterhole Rituals Online Clinic would be a perfect way to do something constructive which would engage her mind and spirit while she had a chance to grow up. I followed that up with Carolyn's Bitless Dressage Course, where she learned to work independently along the arena fence, walk and trot, learned to seek contact on a loose line, started uberstreichen exercises, and much more, including teaching her to “Stand in the Box”. We did some single lining as well.

I followed that up with a second Waterhole Rituals Online Clinic this Spring at which time Dutchy turned three. All of this has given Dutchy and I the focus and communication to seamlessly move forward with our riding relationship. Carolyn has said numerous times that starting a horse using her system at Liberty may appear to be a little slower than other more traditional training methods in the beginning, but that once the actual process of starting the horse under saddle started, this early Liberty training would translate into a far more accelerated learning curve than any other method. That is CERTAINLY the case!

A few weeks ago, I put a vaulting surcingle on her and she carried it as she was working next to the wall of the arena. Because of her understanding, she moved immediately into a slack, non-influencing line to seek contact. She moved right to the end of a lunge line and started lunging like a veteran, with no falling in and no pulling. Within a week, she started working walk, trot and canter on a line, with transitions strictly from body language and voice commands.

I led her to a mounting block and told her “Whoa”. I leaned on her and put a leg across for a couple of days, and she was totally non-plussed by it all. I went ahead and slid onto her back. She just stood there, but wouldnʼt move. She understood that at the mounting block, you are to stand quietly. Not wanting to confuse her, I put a long line on her and asked my husband to encourage her to move forward when I asked for a walk from on her back. It took one short session for her to understand that it was okay for her to leave the mounting block. I rode for two days bareback with a vaulting surcingle so that if there were any problems I would have handles. She was as steady as a rock. I moved forward to a saddle, which she accepted without question.

Photo by Lauri ParkerAfter working at Liberty carrying a saddle, I just got on and started riding. She simply trusted the program and moved forward without a single misstep. By the second day riding with a saddle, she was trotting in both directions in the arena and starting to change directions from shift in body weight. The genius of the bitless dressage exercise where she was asked to carry herself on the rail at Liberty with no support from me is that she instantly carried me around the arena on a totally slack influencing rein, stayed on the rail, went into the corners, and never offered to fall in on the circle. She moved solidly with weight on all four legs, and carried me like a seasoned horse from the first step. Within a week of being ridden under saddle, we left the arena and headed out down the trail.

The glory of all this ground work is that I am able to enjoy a forward moving, confident horse right from the start. If she becomes cautious, she stops and looks, then moves forward. Should she overreact to something (which has happened a total of once) all I have to do is say “Whoa” and she stops, we regroup and off we go. I know that I have definitely found the most rewarding way to work with a horse.

Additionally, I called and told Carolyn that Dutchy is definitely the poster child for the Carolyn Resnick Method of horsemanship. Dutchy has a voice, she is totally devoted to the program, and thriving. I may also have inadvertently tripped into the perfect all around breed. I have had horses most of my life (including Dutch Warmblood, thoroughbred, etc), and have never found a more interactive, intelligent breed than the Gypsy Vanner. They are easy to work with, forward moving, athletic, willing, and highly trainable, with really comfortable gaits to ride. I am one happy camper!!! The Gypsy Vanner and the Carolyn Resnick Method - the magical combination.

Here are two videos of us working together:

Dutchy's Second Ride:


Dutchy's Third Trail Ride:



Thank you Lauri for sharing our history together.  It is a true blessing when you find the right horse and can experience the magic that happens when you, your horse and your training method are all in perfect sync.

Have a great weekend!  Be on the lookout for new horse and human sightings and may the horse be with you.

Warmly, Carolyn



CAROLYN RESNICK - Escondido, Ca and Online:

Dancing with Horses Clinic

November 20-November 23, 2014

December 11-December 14, 2014

Online Waterhole Rituals Course

September 14/15, 2014 (starts)

3-Day Private Clinics

Done at the Ranch in Escondido, Ca - Anytime you want!


LINDA SALINAS - Certified Instructor - Denmark, England, North Carolina Clinics:

Self Realization through the Training of Horses at Liberty

<<For more information click this link>>


TEDDIE ZIEGLER - Certified Instructor - California Clinics:

Available for Private Lessons, Private and Group Clinics in:

The Waterhole Rituals and Self Realization through the Training of Horses at Liberty.

For more information email Teddie at