The last few months, have you noticed all the signs displayed around our community? Signs in driveways, alongside the highways, in neighbor’s yards; positioned to be read by all who passed by. It was effortless to know who was in favor of whom, and the positions which they represented. And what about the signs we pass by every time we are out driving around? The stop sign, the yield sign and the speed limit signs. Do we pay attention? Do we respond?
A sign that I will not forget and caused me to chuckle was posted by a huge pond and read, “NO FISHING! DON’T EVEN ASK.” That was quite clear. I wonder how many people read the NO FISHING sign, and assumed that was for everyone else except them.
Signs indicate what road you are on, where you are heading, the distance and the direction in which you are going. Have you ever seen NORTH and you really need to be going SOUTH? This influenced you to change directions, didn’t it? Signs have value and purpose as we journey on, but we must read them.
Whether you are starting a new relationship with your horse or you are continually building one, it is helpful to understand how you are perceived by your horse when you approach him. Horses perceive us as predators, even if we are nice ones! We predators approach in a direct line with our eyes focused on what we want (i.e. the horse). Horses are amazingly ‘tuned in’ to intention. The horse knows they are going to be caught. A horse will run off, not allowing the person to catch him, and that is a sign. What is that horse telling you? The horse is telling you that he does not trust or respect you; this is valuable feedback. Forcing the horse to be caught does not improve things. Remember “unforced rhythms!” The unforced approach is a key to building relationship.
Learning how to approach your horse in a way that doesn’t cause him to feel the need to leave is priceless. You have to persuade him that you are not going to act like a predator, regardless of his response. You make a deliberate decision to become the kind of human your horse is interested in being with.
Some days when your horse sees you he will nicker and/or come running to you. Other days, the horse sees you, turns and walks away as if to say, “Oh no, not her again.” Don’t take this personally! Become creative and interesting, and enjoy watching your horse change his mind!
Signs of fear and trust issues come up often when interacting with our beloved equine friends. Is the horse afraid, or simply does not trust you? One exercise you can do to determine the answer is to ask the horse to give you one hoof at a time while standing on one side of the horse. Let’s say you are standing on the left side of your horse, and you ask him to give you his front left hoof. Nice. Now reach over to his front right hoof while remaining on his left side. Ask the horse to pick up his hoof. Only a horse that trusts you will give you his hoof in this way. Do the same with his hind hooves. You have connected with a secret language that explains the ‘sign.’ Move forward from there.
I would like to wish each of you a Blessed, Wonderful, Connecting Thanksgiving. “Signing off” for now.
Connecting with LIFE through a horse
Animal B.E.S.T practitioner