A good start of any interaction usually involves politeness, or good manners. Things can go awry if two different cultures and or languages are attempting communication with out awareness of one and others intention or tone. Requests can be misconstrued, and offenses can be taken. Conversely, instant attraction or comfort can be felt with enthusiasm for further interaction.
Have you ever found a person’s tone or “vibe” just rubbed you the wrong way? Or, how about that really interesting person you are simply drawn to and just seem to “get” them or vice versa?
Here is where I get to make to direct correlation to our interactions with horses. (you knew this is where it’s all gonna lead, right?)
What if we could completely change (if needed), or simply improve upon our interactions with our horses in such a way it clears up many common training or behavior issues?
Let’s look at how we approach our horses right from the get-go. First off, before we step for into our paddocks, stalls or pasture there are some basic rules of the road we must follow. Safety is paramount and non negotiable. The two main tenets are thus…
- When inviting a horse into our personal space they must be polite, gentle and thoughtful. The same rules apply to us when in our horse’s personal space with the added responsibility to be mindful of whether or not they even want us to approach or to touch them. Always ask permission, make no assumptions, observing our horse’s communications to us.
- If horse is pushy, rude or feels unsafe in any way, they must move away from you easily without objection when directed to do so. This is not personal and establishes good manners.
Remember this is a 2-way conversation, you may be surprised with what your horse has to say, don’t take it personal if you receive a fair amount of “no” in the beginning, or a whole bunch of pushing into or through you. If you get all green lights and good vibes, good for you! This work will still be of great value as you deepen your bond using the horses intrinsic language. Go slow, set your intentions and be observant, without judgement. Listen, and respond accordingly.
Be the Vibe that says I’m cool to hang out with.
Set your intention prior to entering into your horses paddock. As you enter, start from where your horse can see you. Move in a slow deliberate way with purpose and with out intensity, in an arc toward the shoulder area. Be mindful, observing any responses from your horse. Their body langauge will communicate to you if they would like to engage with you. If they look disinterested, slow down or stop. Check in with your energy, lower your intensity if needed or simply wait where you are for any indication to proceed. Respect any “no thanks” or “not interested right now” responses. Perhaps you have more of a bold horse who strides right up to greet you. How is their energy? Do they respect your “not so fast” or “that’s close enough”. Often it’s enough to put your hand or hands up in a “stop right there!” traffic cop position, remember~ firm body language and intention in your communication. Once your horse has stopped his feet and has a better, quieter regard for you, then soften you body posture to invite the enthusiastic greeter to approach you more gently. Sending away anything that doesn’t feel gentle or safe to you with “waves of energy” send toward the horse’s neck and or point of shoulders. A firm “shooing away” if you will. With some horses you may need to have a bigger personal space bubble, and carrying a wand or whip to increase your space, NOT for punishment, but to assert yourself at a greater distance. There will be more about the use of tools in a later discussion. It’s enough to say for now, If you have any doubt or concerns about your safety in with a loose horse that shows signs of aggression or dominance please start these conversations outside the pen, go slowly and/or seek professional guidance.
I’m off to converse with my Quarter horse Redmann,