Being with our horses and being around them wherever we are, as we interact with them, should be a pleasurable and enjoyable experience. Every meeting can be a wonderful opportunity to learn from each other, to explore the world where we co-exist together, to build trust and expand our connection.
A basic communication principal we abide by at Healing Horses is that:
All horses connect with us and learn more easily when they are relaxed and calm.
This may seem obvious, but we regularly observe situations where the horse and handler are struggling to move forward in whatever activity they are attempting. From simply coming together, to cleaning and brushing, to haltering, to saddling … and unfortunately (because it gets more dangerous) to mounting and riding.
To avoid this and to build the foundation for basic communication that works, every one of us must first understand that when we go to our horses, we are the ones with the agenda, not them. They do not have an expectation of what is going to happen. We do. And often we have a time line, which immediately puts stress and tension into the situation. As well as all the other things on our mind.
To complicate matters and make things more difficult for us, our horses read us (and our intention) far better than we read them. They can read our mood, understand our attitude and feel our energy from a considerable distance. Many owners, unless they have great experience and meticulous study, do not read their horses well. And if they do, they know they will never stop learning.
So, as a first step, before you even get out of the car or think about approaching your horse, take a few deep breaths and try to relax yourself. Try to clear your mind of everything except thoughts of you and your horse spending wonderful time together – preferably quietly and alone. Imagine just being with your horse, or walking freely with him/her. Clear your mind of its noise! One way to do this is to pick up on the sound of a birds song, or listen to the crickets or the sound of the breeze blowing through the trees. Connect with nature and be still with her sounds before you reach out. It will take you a step closer to your horses world.
As you start to approach, make all your movements calm and relaxed. Be quiet and be gentle as you enter your horses space. Then keep your voice low and reassuring. All these things will create an atmosphere of trust.
Be observant and look for these 7 signs that your horse is relaxing:
1) The head lowers
2) Licking and chewing
3) Sighing, with slow and steady breathing
5) Cocking of the hind leg
6) Soft eyes, ears forward & responsive to sound
7) All muscles visibly relaxed
Remember, your horse is reading your body language at all times. So, to ensure the clearest communication with them, we must make sure we are present with them in the moment. We must quietly concentrate on being with them, not being somewhere else in our thoughts.
If your horse is irritable, stressed or uncooperative – think before you respond. Because their actions will be the result of them mirroring back to you your own unresolved issues.They are that way, because you are ….
It is rarely the horse
Our wish for all of you is a happy, healthy and mutually respectful relationship with your horse. Many horses become labeled as troublesome, dangerous or unmanageable. If we all become more capable of understanding them, and take the time to meet them in that wonderful space between our worlds, then there will be fewer who end up becoming unwanted and unloved.