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Carolyn Resnick — The Waterhole Rituals DVD

I recently rented Carolyn Resnick’s DVD, An Introduction to the Waterhole Rituals, from horseflix. I learned about Carolyn’s methods from several friends. 

Carolyn advocates beginning the training process at liberty and working on developing a bond with the horse, rather than immediately teaching a set of behaviors. I think training at liberty is extremely valuable–it empowers the animal by giving them the option to escape. Much of her philosophy is derived from time she’s spent observing wild horses and her approach centers on the trainer becoming the alpha horse. Based on what I’ve read on horse behavior, I’m not sure this is always the appropriate approach.

I really enjoyed the DVD and thought that some of the exercises were great. Several of them I absolutely didn’t like at all, mainly because my ideas of training have some major philosophical differences from her ideas. 

Carolyn obviously has a way with horses, but I wonder if her method is probably not for everyone. The DVD is fairly short (about an hour) and offers little practical instruction for how to implement her methods. I could see how a beginner could make costly mistakes if they were not correctly reading the signals and body language of their horse. Also, the demonstrations of the methods involve just a single horse, it would have been interesting to have a slightly longer DVD that showed additional horses or even horses actually learning the waterhole rituals, instead of a single horse who was already familiar with the rituals.

I’ll be blogging over the next few days about my thoughts on each of the individual rituals, be sure to check back and see what you think. Overall, I thought the DVD was interesting to watch and it helped me think about some ideas and concepts I’ve been pondering. However, I’d recommend renting it or borrowing it from a friend before buying it.

The 7 Waterhole Rituals are: 

1. Sharing Territory

2. Saying Hello

3. Taking Territory

4. Leading From Behind

5. Eye Contact

6. Magnetic Connection

7. Come Up and Go Trot

Finally, I was slightly annoyed when towards the end of the DVD she made a snide comment criticizing clicker training. Although she mentioned one time on her blog that she is proficient at clicker training, the comment she made showed little understanding for the underlying science of behavior analysis and positive motivation.

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  • http://www.arkanimals.com Ark Lady

    I always laugh at how people reinvent the wheel. Part of understanding an animal is that you understand the natural behavior and biology of the species.

    Once you have a handle on that you can adapt training to anything. I’d use the word “trust” over “bonding” since that is what gives you an edge over not having such a relationship.

    Some will argue that such relationships complicate matters–especially if you are inserting yourself into the social structure of the species.

    However, in most cases I’ve found it to be more useful (and rewarding) to have cross species relationships–when it gets tough sometimes that is the only thing that carries you through.