Are you an emotional match for your horse and just what does this mean?
Horses communicate using a different basis of language than us; they think in images as do autistic people, they are adept and experts at using their energy and body language but they also use emotions in order to convey messages and intent to one another; and to us if we learn how to listen and properly engage.
This emotional language is what I want to discuss today, because how we approach training and being around our horses from an emotional point of view could change the connection and understanding between us and our horses.
To really be in tune with your horse you need to understand how you are feeling when you are around them, because otherwise how will you discern how they are feeling if you're not in tune with your own emotions? This initial approach understanding takes time, because next you need to not only be aware of how you're feeling but to analyse why you are trying to do whatever it is you are attempting with your horse. Is it so you 'feel like a successful person' or 'over power and dominate another being' or even to ensure you 'do well at competition' and just what does it mean if you 'do well' what does that term mean? Feeling happy, beating others in something so therefore feeling higher in the pecking order of life. Why do you want to compete or win or get to that training milestone?
What are the reasons you are engaging with your horse? Is it to enjoy being with them and for them to enjoy it, or because you are trying in some way to get an emotional 'fix' from working with your horse?
The reason why this understanding is so important is because then I want you to understand from the horse's point of view why they might want to engage and be with us. For horses they are in the moment, they are not thinking of future events and how their training today might influence that, they don't need to 'perform well' to feel content and happy with their life.
They have a completely different set of goals to us and they need to feel content in the moment in order to engage with us. How many of us are in the moment? Are you still thinking about your stressful day when your trying to catch your horse; does your horse then make it hard for you to catch them? Are you thinking how little time you have and that you need to achieve something in a set time; do you think this translates well to your horse because they will be picking up on all those signals both subtle and not that you are projecting out to them.
Horses literally feel everything that is going on emotionally with you. So you might think you are communicating and acting in a certain way, but if your energy and emotions are telling a different story, then your horse is not going to react well or how you want.
Another point is that horses like people have a different set of emotions depending on their personality. Matching your emotions or choosing a horse that has the right balance of emotions for you is really important. If you are someone who gets stressed easily then choosing a very sensitive horse that spooks or becomes 'ungrounded' easily is not necessarily a good match for you. A calmer more balanced horse would balance out your own emotions and together you would get more done.
If you are really impatient and your horse is a bit of a hot head; again this might not be the best match. Relationships with our horses are so important and for most people a bit of an emotional roller coaster. Becoming more aware of your emotions and that of your horse can really change the balance in your relationship. If you do have a horse that is very similar to you emotionally, it can be a very important learning experience but you do have to learn how to be the balancer for you and them. Taking the emotional lead and understanding your triggers and your motivation behind your actions. Otherwise it is better to choose a horse that can take the lead and has a strong and settled emotional base.
I know that sometimes we see the horse that is a challenge and we want to ride and train the horse that has that fiery streak and there is nothing wrong with this; except that if we don't understand what that horse needs from us emotionally and we 'feed' some of their negative behavior then you might end up with a horse that can't be handled and becomes dangerous.
Horses are like sponges when it comes to emotions; they literally suck up everything that is around them. So next time your horse is behaving in a way you don't like or seems not to be listening to you; ask yourself what's going on with you and the people who have been around your horse and see if you can start to understand how to help them emotionally stay in balance. This process will help you to understand how to speak to your horse using emotions and will create a bridge of understanding between you that will enhance who you can be to one another.
Disclaimer: Of Horse! and sponsors do not endorse nor validate the accuracy of a blog post. Each article is the opinion of the blogger.