In the photo you see Maestro and I one sunset evening recently enjoying each other. I saw our shadow and thought it made a cool photo!.
I refer to any interaction with a horse as a conversation no matter what we are “Talking” about. That would indicate that (at least in my opinion) a good conversation involves both parties Listening, Hearing, Acknowledging and then responding to the other. It is two way and interesting and engaging for both beings.
The most important part of keeping a conversation with a horse organic is to keep things in the moment and in context. This is SO important. Horses converse with each other this way and it is the most natural way to exchange when we engage in a conversation with our horses. The exercises that follow once my horse strikes up a conversation with me are completely dictated by what my horse decides the subject matter will be.
Once Maestro started seeking out a conversation with me, In the beginning it was mostly about feeling my energy and when he realized I could give scratches, He came to get them frequently. As time went on during his meals and Self Selection sessions, When he starting to be a bit pushy around the food and Herbs, I gently started to explain about having patience and that when he stood and waited, he would get his food then but not when he was being pushy. He proved my rule of three times. I always say horses and people generally learn anything in three repetitions. He understood to be gentle and patient.
One of his big lessons came when our International Student/Trainer came from Japan and one of our lesson days we started with a meditation in the paddock with Mercury, Jordan, Roo, and Maestro. This was the first time we had done this since Maestro arrived and he was very interested in our new guest. Up until now, he had been allowed to interact freely with us all but had to learn about being calm and not interfering with us during our meditation. This was a great exercise because I let him experiment with how to be with us. We didn’t mind him being there but we didn’t want him to nibble us or pull our clothes. Maestro could not fathom why we would not want this from him and repeatedly tried to engage us. He would come back and try again and I would remind him that we would like to spend time with him not touching us. Finally he came over again looked at us both and turned and walked away understanding that at this time we didn’t want to scratch, cuddle or interact with him physically. We just wanted to be still. A very important lesson for a youngster and he got it. I did not pursue him or engage him. He set his own conversation and lesson up. It was completely in context with what was going on and he learned that sometimes, people just want to come in the the paddock to “Be” with him and his herd quietly and peacefully. We did not need to discuss it any further and Maestro did not take it personally. I find that many people think that horses take things personally especially when they are equine empaths. To truly integrate into a herd like a true horse, these organic contextual exchanges happen all the time and it’s how we all learn to connect and have good safe relationships with each other. This is where our relationships with our horses become rich and deep.
There are nine exercises (and variations appropriate for each horse) I work with loosely with at any given time in the moment and in context. There is no order to these exercises and they are applied as appropriate so I am never thinking I want to “practice” this and that with my horse.
I never repeat things over and over with horses. If the horse repeats a behavior pattern I want to shift, I simply reaffirm the new pattern until the horse shifts the pattern but only when the pattern comes up. This way it is always in context and organic. The same goes for patterns you like and want to reinforce. Ultimately, I feel my relationship with Maestro unfolding and our intimate conversations starting to grow in new directions each day.