The regulating affect we (the horse and you) can have on each other
It has been a while since I last wrote something. Much has happened since and I am continiously learning more.
Here is a little something I have been thinking about for a very long time but I have only just started to get some answers.
Since I have started my journey in Equine Facilitated Human Development, I have been thinking about the impact we have on the horse and the horse has on us, during daily interaction and training.
The horse has a very regulating affect on our system e.g. how we feel and how our body starts to regulate when we are around horses.
One system regulates the other and vice versa e.g. if people are laughing we are more likely to start laughing. Have you ever had a long, stressful, busy day and when you got to the stables and saw the horses you just felt better?
I have been wondering what affect horse and human have on each other when both are not able to regulate or stay regulated e.g. the horse gets tense and worried about plastic bags or a human that get tense when the horse gets worried because we think he might take off e.g. past memories come up.
And I wonder if the horse often gets even more tense/worried not just because we are predators and start acting like one e.g. pushing the horse, gripping with legs and hands, but also because we might not be congruent, or blame the horse for how they are feeling.
The horse can sense and feel what is going on internally and whether we are congruent with what we are feeling and thinking, which is also reflected in our physical responses.
If we are trying to help a horse that can’t stay regulated in a certain situation, but we can’t stay regulated either, we won’t be able to help and change the horse’s way of responding and feeling about that situation, because we don’t have any other means to see the situation any differently.
For instance with a horse that needs some more confidence/support and regulation when going over a bridge I have observed the same horse responding to that task differently when with a different person. I don’t think it has always to do with how much we know and training we have had but also how we deal with different situations e.g. can we stay present, observant and congruent.
Another example is a horse that naturally is not very forward going, yet this mare was willing to go forward with a young person that had little understanding about horses, with very little need to ask the horse to move.
I have also observed someone trying to pick up a horse’s feet, the horse was not going to give her foot, regardless what the person tried to do. The same happened with another horse, both horses have their feet pick daily. What does that say?
The horse can see beyond what we know.
I often take my horse to the Downs because I love riding in the woods and be surrounded by nature. I can take George somewhere new and he stays regulated, it doesn’t affect him.
Now it’s slightly different when I ride on the roads. I don’t like riding on the roads, not because of the roads e.g. surface, but because of the car drivers.
I find it difficult to stay regulated and to stay in an observant position. This will have an affect on my horses.
So in the past I have always thought that George doesn’t have enough confidence when we are out, yet when I take him to the Downs he is absolutely fine. This got me thinking, perhaps I am the one that is causing him to not be so confident on the roads because of my own views and response to this.
Alone the fact that I have realised this has made a difference, because I am no longer thinking it is George’s problem, because I know it is mine. I am congruent, I know I find it difficult, so my feeling and thinking are aligned. Where as before I felt worried and tense, but thought it was George's problem. Actually, it is my problem, I was projecting my problem onto him.
So I have been thinking how can I start to stay more regulated and comfortable when out on the road.
One, I have started to think rather than fixing this “problem” George and I can go down the lane and pick some rosehips, because there are loads, and it would take the focus away from my “problem” and of George- it wouldn’t be about “…….” anymore.
Secondly, I have been keeping in mind “how one system regulates the other”, George’s system can regulate my system. So when I take him out and I can feel myself getting a little worried or tense about the cars, I look at George to see how he responds to the cars. And I found that he wasn’t bothered e.g. he was eating grass, breathing and blinking. So why should I get bothered if George isn’t bothered? If he is okay, I can be okay. If he wasn't okay I would need to do something e.g. retreat
Often the horse’s response to something has nothing to do with the horse but us, because of what we think or feel about something even just our thought to doing trot-canter transitions, cantering in a big field, loading etc. Yet it isn’t very comfortable to look at yourself and think of yourself being the cause of your horses “problem”. Often when changing our view towards something it will have an affect on the horses response. Because we have started to see beyond what we saw.
It’s only our mind that stops us from seeing beyond what we see. The horse can allow us to see beyond, because he already does.