Evolving your Horsemanship to Improve the Equine Partnership

Too many people are unclear in what, where and how they communicate with their horse. They unintentionally "challenge" the horse into guessing what they want. Then they reprimand the horse every time he can't figure it out. Or they present a task using the same manner of communication repetitiously, driving the horse's stress levels up, until he accidentally figures out what the person is asking. The more the horse has to "guess" at what the person wants, the more he will tune out the person's aids or communication and can become dull and unresponsive to the aids or feel like he is "taking over" during the session. 

Think of it as driving a car. If all you had when you drove was access to the gas pedal- with no steering or brakes, you probably wouldn't get in the car. And yet people get on 1000 lb. prey animals with very little steering and often ineffective brakes "hoping" that it will all "work out." Without the appropriate "tools" to communicate, they will not experience the "relaxing" and confidence building ride. 

The more specific the person can learn to be in what they are presenting, prioritizing the horse's thought first and then his physical movement- which at times may become literally one-step-at-a time depending on the scenario, the more the horse has a chance to "get it right." This will decrease his concern in the world around him when addressing the human. He will begin to participate in a physically reasonable manner. One quality step will turn into three and then 10 and then eventually a whole circle and then the entire ride. 

This approach is by no means the quick fix or instant gratification that most training methods and tack usage suggests. It instead is about building a partnership between two thinking participants. The more thoughtful the experience, the less overwhelming for the human and the horse. 

The less stress during the experience, the less unexpected events will bother either of them. This approach is proactive behavior to de-spooking, decrease/eliminating dangerous behavior, and diffusing unwanted scenarios because each interaction is a continuous, two-way conversation. If the rider believes the horse and then immediately addresses any of the horse's concerns, the horse has no continuous build-up of worry to be reactive, defensive and unreasonable. 

It takes clarity and awareness in the human of riding every single step to "help" the horse learn to mentally search for what is being asked, rather than receiving a multitude of random physical responses. The clearer the communication the more immediate the responses. It will take less effort to encourage the horse to try and participate in a reasonable manner. 

And this is what leads to the emotionally fulfilling experience for the human.

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