“Horse, I Understand You.”

We spend so much of our time and effort asking our horses to understand US – learn our communication, learn our signals, understand our ideas. It’s equally important, no, it’s MORE important that we show our horses that we understand THEM. Why? Because we are the ones IMPOSING our ideas onto them, they didn’t ask for a human experience in the way that we ask to have a horse experience. So, it’s a matter of consideration and appreciation.

But there’s more. When we put all of our focus on asking our horses to learn OUR signals, and little on HOW they learning or IF they are learning our ideas, it is reasonable to think, that they would begin to shut down. Think about it – if your boss talked to you all day long then turned around and walked away or turned “deaf” when you tried to speak, you would begin to disengage. Over time, all you would probably hear is: “Blah, blah, blah… do this thing… blah, blah, blah… have it done by this day… blah, blah, blah.”

It’s important to let our horses know “I hear you,” in big ways of course, as you are helping them to understand your ideas, but there are countless small ways throughout your horse experience to convey understanding. I’ve posted on this idea recently. It’s such a simple idea, and it’s something that we all do in our own way, anyway. But it’s worthwhile to be AWARE of what we are doing and the value it brings to our relationship with our horses. It is top of my mind anytime I am near my horses.

Here’s a quick recent example of what I am talking about. I let my mare Stella “clean up the scraps” left behind my mare Sweet Pea, after she’s had her extra meal of grain and alfalfa. Stella is loose in an area and she becomes a 4-legged vacuum cleaner, it’s a win-win, actually. Sometimes, she will pause and look around for a bit. I will get closer to her area and ask her if she’s done and would she like to come out (the herd has usually been fed their regular dinner at this time, so there’s good reason for her to want to leave the area when she’s done). She will immediately put her head down, and often turn away from me. (I’m about 20 feet away). I will say: “Okay, that’s fine, you can finish up.” And then I will leave the area. In time, Stella will usually start looking for me again, she will glance all around until she gets my attention, and then she will look at me very directly. This is her “I am done now and I need you to come here and let me out so I can return to the herd” look. I will let her know that I see it and then I go to her where she meets me over at the gate and I let her out.

I LOVE THESE MOMENTS, because it’s an opportunity to let her know that I hear her, I understand her. The gap of understanding between us has been bridged.

In the near future, when I am trying to create a bridge across to HER, I have a lot of confidence that she will be engaged and focusing intently on understanding my ideas. After all, I have proven to her, that I understand at least some of her ideas, but more importantly, that I am trying to understand them – her ideas are important to me.

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