|Mercury and I having a Lively Conversation! The most fun ones!|
As I have become more experienced in my approach to horses, I have learned the value of a Two way quality Conversation with a horse as I value a good conversation with a person.
I often see in my travels, People shouting, talking over, and cutting off their horses side of the Conversation. I look at it like a bad conversation with a person. I wouldn’t like it if someone asked me question, then before I had a chance to reflect on it, asked me three more questions then just when I was about to “Try” to respond, cut me of and yelled at me (so to speak) for not answering quick enough and getting the answer right. I would start to not want to be in that conversation anymore.
Being good with a horse has as much to do with Being a good Listener as it does to a good conversationalist and being a Quality “Leader”.
My conversation would look something like this. I’d let the horse start by telling me some things and then I’d come in with an “I understand” and “I see your point” and a “I could definitely see how you could see it that way” and then a question like “How about if I asked you to do “X” “How would you feel about that?” and then I’d leave space for him to tell me how he felt about it. Good or bad.
So what does a bad Conversation look like? Well for starters it looks like “Talking or Making orders” too quickly with not enough space in between for your horse to read what you said, respond positively or try to change the subject. Trying to change to subject means just that. Your horse saying “Hmmm I hear what you’re saying, but maybe we could eat grass instead or “fill in the blank”…
It could also look like your horse not being clear about your request because it was too fast or too complicated and needs to be spoken slower and maybe spelled out one letter at a time. Meaning break it down to very small steps.
And my personal favorite is Are You Speaking Clearly AND Thoughtfully. If you are unclear about how to explain your request to your horse, Don’t expect him to be clear about it either. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to do it if you aren’t clear. It just means be as clear and precise as you possibly can so your requests are easy to follow. Imagine someone trying to explain a concept to you in a foreign language but they’re not quite sure how to get it across….Sounds tough right?…Exactly.
I often look at the different incarnations of Natural Horsemanship and Traditional Horsemanship and they all are some sort of “Horseglish” or “Eqglish” if you will. You will understand if you’ve ever heard the term “Spanglish” It means no matter how good you speak “Horse”, you’ll speak it with a human accent and the accent of the place you’re from and throw in a few Human words when you need them. That actually means our horses learn to understand “Horseglish” as well.
So Training or your time with your horse should be a great conversation. One that stimulates both of you, makes you both think, laugh, sometimes a whisper, sometimes loud, and sometimes lively and animated. But you both walk away feeling like you listened to each other and made strides to wherever you may be going together. Also remember, a conversation that seems firm and about yours or your horses “likes” and “dislikes” (if you know what I mean) can lead to a better working partnership just as it would between you and another person. More food for thought….