Is your horse allowed to speak? It’s all about improving your relationship.
I don’t know how your physical state is but, I am 40 years and I suffer from knee problems quite a long time. I know my limitations, dancing and taking the stairway just cripples me. If listen to my body I manage to stay mobile with least amount of pain.Yesterday I had to walk a lot of miles because my car got stuck in the mud. I felt it coming sharp pain in my left knee made me stop in place a few times, yelling AUCH! But you know the horses need their care so you I just keep on walking. This morning I knew it would be better to rest but, well the horses need their hay, and water and care so I struggle on. As a result this evening my hip hurts my lower back hurts and my other knee as well. This happens because my left knee made me compensate loading the rest of my body in a different way.
What has this to do with your horse I can hear you think out loud. Just like we are made of flesh and blood instead of steel, our horses are not made out of steel as well. Knowing this I try to listen carefully to my horses, and they are allowed to say: no. If something does not feel right to them. Because I cannot feel what they feel and horses usually tolerate way too much from us without complaining, if they have a choice at all. Pushing them further or simply drilling them can cause so much discomfort that they have less and less apatite to be with us. A small pain can be compensated by our horse because we ask too much and that can cause bigger problems in the end. How many horses have neck problems, kissing spines, sore hocks, sore backs or just suffer from depression because we do not recon what they go through and bad riding technic wont help either. Just what happened with me, what started as pain in my left knee, triggered a chain reaction of painful sensations in my whole body. And I don’t even have the burden of carrying a rider on my back. Apart from physical discomfort horses can suffer from psychological discomfort and traumas as well.
How to learn the language your horse? First of all allow your horse to speak, if you want it to talk to you. You must allow your horse to have its say. Little example I visited my herd with a guest and we were chatting while I mindlessly touched my horse Maya. Because I was with my awareness more into my conversation with my guest, I probably missed the small warning Maya gave to me that she did not want to be touched in the way I did and she did not like me to touch her chest. Or she was bothered by me not taking notice of her energetically it can be lots of reasons but they are not important. The point is that I should have listened to her. Suddenly she bite the air towards me. That was a big warning. Not intended to harm me, but she clearly said No! I immediately backed off, and said sorry to my horse. My guest did not understand why I did not punish my horse for offending me in an aggressive manner. I don’t punish that because my horses have the right to speak. I was deaf at that particular moment, it was not my horses fault. I trust my horses they don’t have the intention to hurt me we have an agreement of not hurting each other.
It was my fault because I must have missed the small signs. If you want to read your horse well it is really important to be fully in the present with your horse being with horses is practising mindfulness every second of your interaction with them. And everything is information if a horse threatens to bite, you might have just missed other signs. Like some muscle tension, or an ear pricking back. Breathing changing, like holding breath. Tensed nostrils and mouth. Or maybe a small or big sign of withdrawing. The opposite might as well occur like a slight subtile push in your direction, all depending on the nature of your horse. And if you don’t show you are aware of your horse who is communicating to you. The horse will talk louder and louder untill we get it. If they are not afraid off the consequences. And if we have to deal with a horse who clearly talks to us, don’t try to fight the symptoms but go find out the root of it. The better we listen the more subtile signs we learn to read. And it can go into really fine language of pure energy if you are sensitive enough to tune in. Some horses are more introvert and can be more difficult to read.
Communication is a two-way street that is simple so. PLEASE, stop using and thinking in terms of punishment immediately. If you always punish what you do not want, you punish your horse for communicating with you. It is scientifically proven that using punishment slows down or even inhibits the ability to learn. Simply because your horse stops offering you new behaviour afraid of the consequences that they might have. And when we train our horses we like to teach new behaviours isn’t it? So the more likely they are willing offer us all kinds of things the sooner they get it ‘right’ and all we have to do is reward them so they know that was exactly what we asked for even if its only a small step towards our goal. Another aspect to consider, lots of times our horse offers us exactly what we inherently asked for. If they offer you something different then what you intended, big chance you just formulated your question wrong and they interpreted you right. Imagine if you get frustrated or punish them for giving us what we asked for ( from their point of view) how demotivating that works on your horses willingness to learn, because you are giving so many conflicting messages to your horse. Communication with horses can be fun like a puzzle and as long as you never punish the outcome you can keep on trying untill you get the result. And it stays fun for both human and horse. Just quite before they are tired or they had mentally enough. If you want to learn the language you have to develop an eye for the feedback you always get from your horse. If you get a different response then you asked for, stop and think about it.
If you train your horse know when you are in the stretch zone. And do not stay too long in the stretch zone. Learning new things often require stepping out of the comfort zone both physical and mental. Muscles, joints and tendons are used in a different way, and just as we get sore from a workout they get sore as well. Listen to your horse he will tell you when it is enough. Stop before they lose interest and do something easy or relaxing. Reward often and pause during your training. Hop off for a while and walk next to them if they just gave their best. Give enough rein if they want to stretch, it is so simple. Take well notice of your horses mood, his energy, small signs of tension, or resistance, pushing into you or withdraw from you, that’s your horse talking to you! Be content with small improvements, you must have the big picture in mind but don’t expect ‘perfect’ right away because then you wont have anything to reward. Recognise when your horse is tired. Always motivate your horse to be willing to work with you and some horses can be quite difficult to motivate so use your creativity and senses. My standard vision is that I want my horse to willingly reply to my suggestions. And if he is not I question myself ‘why’ are things going the way I want… What does my horse need from me how can I help.
Getting feedback from a horse with a ‘voice’ does not include training situations only off course. But my blog gets longer and longer it is quite a big subject so I will end it anyway.
Everything starts with an intention, so if your intention is to have a better relationship and learn to understand what your horse is telling you. Allow your horse to speak to you and your horse will show you the way. It’s such a great agreement you can have with your horse they totally open up if they are allowed to talk back.
Lett the horse be with you.
I really appreciate feedback, questions or comments. Is your horse taking to you?