There are loads of names for this type of work with a horse. Join up, liberty, natural horsemanship etc I could go on and on.
I personally prefer Liberty. To me, the name suggests the horse has a choice and the freedom to ask questions. Which is what I want for both of my girls when we work together. It's so easy to get wrapped up in the getting everything right immediately. Especially when we live in a culture of instant gratification I believe without being mindful of that it can follow through into all of our relationships.
The relationship I have with Pearl has a solid foundation because of the play we have in our 'work' together. She trusts me and always tries and I always reward a try.
Our groundwork has strengthened our relationship over and over. She walks out on her own, chooses to explore things that spook her and has total respect for me and my space at all times. She has learnt that mistakes are never punished and I will always listen to what she is trying to tell me. We have had our fair share of conflicts over things but we have both always learnt from them. And most importantly its fun for both of us. Whether we decide to have a run and leap together or it's standing quietly and having a scratch at liberty she is choosing to engage with me.
The most amazing part has been how she tunes into my energy if I raise my energy she goes up a gear if I lower it she slows down. She has started to stretch down when asked and I can back her up from 20ft away. To be able to do this with a not quite 3yr old mare makes me so happy!
As for Spring, she has only been here since November and of course, it's never a case of plain sailing to start, Pearl has been 18 months of light work to get to where we are. Spring didn't really know me or what my intention was, so trust had to be earned and slowly we are getting there. Lots of work with the rope and halter to start and then over the past 3 weeks, we have started working loose and immediately she understood. She is even starting to tune into my energy working through transitions. The other thing has been the benefit to our ridden work. 5-10mins of working on the ground together before I get on has given me a forward and engaged horse. I am hoping over time as our bond strengthens hacking out alone for her is going to be much more enjoyable.
There are so many opinions surrounding this type of work with horses some consider it a waste of time while others never even ride because they get so much fulfillment from what they do on the ground. Personally, for me, my horses are my downtime every single day and my most important goals are to have two happy, confident and personality filled horses who enjoy spending time with me as well. I never want them to feel fear or that I have abused the trust they put in me.
The other bonus..... I get lots of opportunities for pretty photos ;)