Talking amongst ourselves at the UK clinic

I am increasingly aware of the way we “shout” at our horses all the time. Even when we think we are being calm and subtle it can still feel like shouting to our horses.

I get to work with a many different types of horses, breeds and temperaments. I find that they all respond to very small and subtle communication if not “thinking” it. I challenge myself daily to be quieter and subtler with my communication and body language on the ground and in the saddle.

What I notice is, people train their horses to need louder and louder communication instead of sticking to a promise and discipline of not resorting to that unless completely necessary. I say discipline because I have noticed that people, in a rush and mindless state, throw all kinds of unclear communication at their horses. Then they get frustrated that their horse is not “listening” and communicate louder. Now some may argue that desensitizing is a good thing and it is for certain horses who may be very reactive to their surroundings and things but I find this over used and and excuse for coming into horses space thoughtlessly and using very loud signals. We want our horses to be thoughtful and we can teach them that by mirroring thoughtfulness to them.

Many people do not like sensitive reactive horses because they need you be very conscious of your body language and communication because they react to the subtlest things. I think everyone should have to work with this type of horse at least once to learn how to be this quiet and soft with your communication. Especially if you own a horse that can be classified as “dull” or low energy. These horses unfortunately, get shouted at the most. I treat these horses as the most sensitive. Just because they don’t react as quickly or seem “bombproof” does not mean they are any less responsive then the hot sensitive horse. In fact they are as responsive just different in the way they respond. They will also tolerate more “loud” communication so in a way enable us to be loud.

It takes a lot of discipline to stick to using the smallest communication and language that is coherent, clear and respects the sensitivity and intelligence of a horse. Ask yourself if you are shouting more often then not. If you have been having a loud conversation for a long time, this pattern will take time to shift and you will have to be the one that leads it. Here’s another image to think about. Do you know someone who thinks when they are not being heard they need to raise their voice? Does that make them clearer or just loud. Does is make you understand them better or just get tense?
Oats for thought…

Thanks as always to Natalie Bouchier Photography for her beautiful photos
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Are you shouting?

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