Trust, Love, Communication and Understanding
I thought I would share with you why I chose trust, love, communication and understanding. These four seem to have influenced me mostly, especially because they can mean so many different things.
For me trust comes before many other things. I am not just talking about the trust your horse has in you or in himself. I also mean the trust you have in yourself and in your horse.
The trust in yourself is crucial. How can your horse trust you if you do not trust yourself?
Once you have trust in yourself or you trust what you are doing, you will be able to trust your horse much more. I have found that people find it difficult to trust their horse if they do not trust themselves or in what they are doing.
The trust in your horse may be that you trust him to act like a partner, your trust him enough to give him the responsibility or a long rein, you won’t micromanage him, trust that he will respond appropriately.
But sometimes that can be difficult to trust your horse because there are past experiences or your horse is not acting like a partner yet which is making you insecure. It’s important to be aware of those things and become conscious of what you are doing whilst you are interacting with your horse in those situations. But do not let that worry you too much, as it will also prevent you from progressing. The worry that things are not going well, you are not progressing, you think your horse does not like you or you have done something wrong. Just trust the process.
By taking care of the trust you have established in yourself and your horse and the trust your horse has in himself and in you, you will establish more confidence.
Love comes after trust, not because love is not as important, but you can trust someone even when you do not love, like or have rapport with them.
I think the love for horses is a big part of why we spend so much time, effort, money and thoughts into these beautiful animals. I think it is important to have that love because what will help you to continue on your path to become a better horsemen, to continue the relationship with your horse, especially when you feel stuck or things are not going well? The love and passion for the horse is usually enough to encourage us to continue.
Love is a human feeling, horses do not look at love the way we do, especially because it is not their number one priority, which is survival. But as a human we would like that our horse love’s us. We want them to run to us when they see us, to stay with us when the other horses leave and do many other things because we may regard that as a way of them showing us their love for us. But we need to consider what is important to the horse and how we can show the horse that we love or care about them.
As a human we like material things e.g. we like to buy new clothes or new furniture. Do you think a horse will be excited about a new rug, halter or trailer? It is not wrong for us to be excited to have bought a new rug for the horse we love. But keep in mind that the horse cares about survival/security, comfort, play and food. By providing the horse with those things, in that order and in the measure the horse requires, we can prove the horse how much we care about him, which will help building rapport.
I personally think it is us who need to prove ourselves to the horse. Because we want to have this relationship or have some kind of demand, so it is our responsibility to prove to the horse how much we care about him and this relationship, not the other way round.
Communication comes before understanding because without communication there is no understanding. Body language is a big part when one is interacting with horses, being able to read the horse’s body language and understand our body language. It isn’t perhaps always that the horse can not do what we would like them to do but the lack in communication. Have you seen your horse do flying lead changes, piaffe, sideways and back up when he is in the field? Horses can do so much, when they want to do it. But how can we establish a way of communicating with the horse and start asking for those specific movements “now”? It is us who need to learn how to ask the right questions.
Every horse is different, as are we, hence why we need to adapt the way we communicate with the horse. Some horses are quick learners and more playful, others are less confident, need more time and a slower approach. These are two very different examples. If I play with the playful horse the way I would with a less confident horse, he might loose connection, get bored and perhaps play around with other things. If I play with a less confident horse the way I would play with a playful horse, I probably would scare him and he would become reactive or even shut down. But it would also affect us as we might become upset or frustrated because nothing is working.
The tools we use to communicate will help us to communicate with the horse in a clearer way but we also need to consider how they may be used appropriately and making sure that the horse is confident with those tools before they are applied for communication.
Understanding stands for the understanding between horse and human. For the horse to have a chance to understand what is being asked of him, we need to have clear communication and a purpose.
Both the horse and human need to be aware of their responsibilities, which will help to establish a partnership. If either horse or human lack in maintaining their responsibility it will be more complicated to get a harmonious partnership. Imagine you are driving your car and you are doing 50mph. All of a sudden your car speeds up. That is not the kind of car you want to be driving. The same applies here, when you are riding your horse. It is not your job to keep the brakes on the whole time to keep the horse from speeding up.
This also leads to understanding the horse’s needs and how to communicate with that horse appropriately. How are you going to help that horse to maintain his responsibility in a way that meets his needs, maintains his confidence and trust, and establishes better communication. Because it would be easy to just pull on the rein, but will that allow the horse to make that change?
We also need to understand ourselves, how we think, how we feel, how we respond to certain situation etc. The horse is a reflection of ourselves, so we need to be aware of how this may influence us.
We can not expect the horse to make all the changes if we are not prepared to change our ways to become a better self.