Updated: Mar 22, 2019
The biggest hindrance I see in the progress of any relationship, with humans and horses or people relationships or in the workplace, is a misunderstanding caused by listening on the basis that the communicator’s intention is to cause harm. It’s a defensive belief that creates a cycle of miscommunication that leads to confusion and fear displayed as aggression. In fact, what is occurring is that all communication is a biological expression of needs, boundaries and the key is to become masters at doing whatever we need to do to minimise the confusion that occurs in the middle with interpretation.
Horses are designed differently to humans and yet it’s not unusual that people naturally default to humanistic interpretations of what a horse needs and is expressing. It’s common for the intention of the horse is assumed to be disrespectful, that its being bossy, or its being naughty instead of looking beyond the behaviour to the strategy behind the behaviour and understanding that it may be a learned behaviour that has been rewarded, or an expression of a need not met or playfulness, It’s important to have a respect of boundaries, but not all boundary encroachments come from an intention of disrespect. These are humanised terms and come from a belief of a harm intent and are formed from the person’s ‘map’ of the world they have experienced from other environments.
To achieve an amazing connection with horses, it’s important to be able to understand the horse from its perspective and not from a human perspective. Communication-wise, horses are highly sensitive to non-verbal cues and it’s a little-known fact that they have a high responsiveness to referential gestures (pointing & gesturing). Horses will connect in the way that comes naturally to them. They connect socially in a herd, and they form reciprocal relationships nurtured through the exchange of pleasant experiences such as mutual grooming within each other’s space.
It is possible to connect with horses in a way that utilises their natural tendencies to improve the bond with them. To connect in a way that is more like a dance partner, that is more reciprocal and playful with a lighter expression of energy instead of a heavy dominating intention that aims to control every single expression and suppresses idiosyncrasies. It doesn’t have to be control dominated out of fear of letting the horse express itself and learn to ‘have it over you’.
Through being who your horse needs you to be, being present, self-aware, playful and curious you can start to build a connection that is more fluid and more natural.
I will never sacrifice or squash a horse’s spirit for the sake of performance. That does not mean that I am not assertive or define boundaries, but I correct the behaviour through realignment or redirection without diminishing self-worth through punishment of the soul, it’s with respect. I encourage their spirit as an outward expression through play and connection which is how horses engage naturally. I do not fear their spiritedness, in fact, I find it to be the most beautiful and truest expression of their soul. Animals naturally express the way they feel honestly. They don’t know any different. In contrast, people have become less clear about healthy emotional expression because of social structures and imprinting and the focus on the creation of our external worlds at the cost of our inner selves.
I see so much untapped potential and limitations people put on themselves and others through mismanagement of emotions, rules, obligations and limiting beliefs. It saddens me to see unexpressed potential in anything in the world as sometimes all it takes to transform something is a slight tweak that can make all the difference.
My mission with animals and people is to develop understanding and empathy so individual needs and boundaries can be respectfully expressed without the battle in between while achieving cooperative progress.
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