Ideally, horses trained using positive reinforcement make their own choice to participate, so we often work at liberty in many different settings. “At liberty” or “liberty work” means there is no physical constraint on the animal such as a lead line, lunge line or reins in a rider’s hand. To maintain a safe environment while providing arena time to everyone, certain areas at certain times will be designated PRIORITY TO POSITIVE or PtP.
Effective January 1, 2018, the PtP designation means Positive Reinforcement Training at liberty has priority over other activities in that area at that time (similar to lesson time priority) under the following guidelines:
- The main indoor and outdoor arenas will have regularly scheduled PRIORITY TO POSITIVE times posted at the gates, tack room doors, and an online calendar.
- Only one arena will be scheduled PtP at any given time. The others will be open under standard arena etiquette.
- During scheduled PtP times in an arena, Positive Reinforcement Training at liberty has priority. On request, other users will exit within 5 minutes so that liberty work can begin. Meanwhile, positive trainers may begin bringing equipment into the arena if they wish.
- Arenas actively in use for liberty work, or intended liberty use within the next 15 minutes, will display a prominent PtP emblem at the entrance, to make other users aware.
- If a PtP emblem is not displayed during scheduled PtP times, that arena may be used by choice for other equestrian activities including lessons; however with the understanding that non-liberty users will promptly exit if requested by a positive training handler intending to do liberty work. This is to create arena flexibility for all.
- Outside of scheduled PtP times, all trainers and handlers will stop liberty work promptly when others wish to use the same arena, though they can continue shared ridden or in-hand work under standard arena etiquette or as mutually agreed.
- Outside of scheduled PtP times, arena priority goes first to scheduled lessons with Terra Nova instructors and is shared according to standard arena etiquette or as mutually agreed by the users.
PRIORITY TO POSITIVE Etiquette
- By courtesy, positive trainers and instructors intending to close an arena for liberty work during a scheduled PtP time should display the PtP emblem 15 minutes beforehand so that others are aware that the arena will be closed shortly.
- By courtesy, positive trainers should remove PtP emblems from the main arenas when they are finished training at liberty, whether or not they remain in the arena for other work.
- A main arena should not sit empty with a PtP emblem displayed longer than 15 minutes at any time. Plans can change quickly with any training method, and the emblem is meant to add efficiency and flexibility in arena usage. Think of the PtP emblem as closing a gate to others temporarily. Be courteous by removing and re-opening!
- To keep safety paramount, during liberty work other users may only enter an area displaying a PtP emblem with the clear verbal permission of the positive trainer or handler.
- There is no time limit on overall liberty work during scheduled PtP time, but positive trainers are encouraged to limit individual horses to no more 15-30 minutes without an extended break.
- During scheduled PtP times, positive trainers can share an arena at their discretion and are encouraged to do so if safety allows: for instance while training in-hand, or several positive trainers agree to work at liberty together. However, for safety, horses working at liberty should not share an arena with horses on a lunge line or ridden with rein control.
- Positive trainers practicing mounting and riding at liberty are still required to adhere to the Helmet and Barn Attire Policies at all times.
- Places outside the arenas may be reserved for PtP on request and at the Stable manager’s discretion. These outside areas may require portions of barn aisles, trails, the cross-country course, roads, parking or other areas to be closed or enclosed for limited periods of time. Advance notice will be shown on the regular PtP schedule, and PtP emblems posted at the location while liberty work is in progress. Boarders’ access to their own stalls and the tack room will not be limited without the individual Boarder’s advance permission in any circumstance.
- Seasonal weather conditions are taken into account in creating the indoor and outdoor arena PtP schedules. Daily weather will not change priority for scheduled PtP times, however all handlers and riders are encouraged to use safe sharing solutions if other arenas are closed.
- The Stable manager has authority over the PtP schedule. Requests, suggestions, concerns, objections and disputes regarding the ongoing PtP schedule should be brought to the manager rather than to any other boarder, trainer, or student. PtP schedules are regularly reviewed by the Stable manager along with lesson, competition, and travel schedules, and planned changes posted as early in advance as possible.
- PRIORITY TO POSITIVE only applies to Positive Reinforcement Training methods at liberty. Negative reinforcement methods of training at liberty (i.e. Parelli and other pressure-based techniques) are not given PtP schedule priority or encouraged at Terra Nova Equestrian Training Center.