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Language influencing the Quality of our Horsemanship
"My horse is stubborn"
"My horse doesn't want to work."
"My horse is ornery."
"My horse is fine until he is psycho."
"My horse knows what he should do, but just doesn't want to do it."
"My horse loves me."
These are all things I've heard from clients. Not just once, but many times. Sometimes folks don't "consider" the degree in which the story running in their head- their thoughts and words- and how it affects their approach when working with the horse. But these can create an unintended consequence in the human's mannerisms and interpretation of experiences with their horse causing passive, critical, and delayed communication.
People tend to get lost in their horsemanship if their version of experience comes from an emotional place. It is also a reflection of a person's current mindset. If the last time someone interacted with their horse, they felt he was "stubborn," the next time they show up before they've even arrived, they are often already expecting/concerned/anticipating that he may be so again. This causes a defensiveness in the human, a hurry in their energy, and a lack of adaptability in how they communicate. It also has a "challenging the horse" intention, which irrelevant of where the horse is actually at mentally on that particular day, creates a vicious cycle of unwanted responses. I always tell clients, "You can love your horse but AFTER the session." What I mean by this is that the human needs to stay emotionally neutral, so that they can be mentally present to address what the horse is currently offering from one moment to the next. And it is continuously changing. When the human instead responds to the horse with defensive, negative, or critical thoughts as if taking the experience as a personal attack from the horse, they cannot offer him the clear and specific communication and support he needs to work through a scenario and help him get to a mentally quiet place.
The horse is black and white in his thinking- they are either in a "safe" place mentally, emotionally, and physically, or they are not. Think of a herd of horses grazing together. When does it look quiet? And when does it look chaotic?
But in times of concern, the horse cannot rationalize his way through a scenario. He may have a few behaviors he offers to "protect" himself, but he is not doing so to wreck the human's day. There is no ulterior motive. So take some time and start to notice how frequently in your head you are assigning human thoughts and emotions when watching and interacting with your horse. Start to focus on literally changing your words, as it will influence your adaptability in your energy, specificity, and timing in the Conversations you have with the horse. If you find he is resistant, showing anticipation, or defensive to your aids, stop and search for how to break down the communication into shorter, specific segments to help him get clear in addressing you. When you are able to present communication in an emotionally neutral manner, you'll see a huge shift in the horse's response, as you won't have the agenda or expectation of seeking an emotionally fulfilling response in you. Instead, you'll be offering similar support he'd receive when in the herd, and therefore the horse can become reasonable, responsive, and willing to participate in what you're presenting.