Wednesday, October 2, 2013

When Your Horse Asks A Question – How Do You Reply?

Howdy Folks,
How do you respond when your horse asks a question? You might be surprised to learn a lot of folks don't even know their horse can, and often do ask questions. So how can they respond to a question they don't know is being asked?
Kessy asking me a question
Imagine you and your spouse, or a trusted friend, are planning to go to the movies. You've talked about it, now it's time. You innocently ask, "Are we ready to go?" To your surprise the response is a sharp toned, "Stand still until I tell you to move." Of course we all know this is a harsh example and no one talks to spouses, friends or horses this way. Surely not.

But what if your question was, "Is this cake still good to eat?" and the answer came, "Eat what I put in front of you!"

Horses ask questions all the time and many times they go unanswered, or answers come unrelated to the question. Suppose you ask, "What time does Dancing With The Stars come on?" and you're told, "Wash the car before the rain starts." Hard to make sense of that one, I reckon.

How do you know if your horse is asking a question? If we're listening they tell us in many little ways. Horses by their very nature are full of questions, but too many times they're taught their questions are unimportant or worse, the act of asking a question is considered a discipline or training problem.

Just like us, horses want to be happy. They have a desire to please. And they think a lot. They are better than most folks at noticing things; things they want investigate, things they love, and things they worry about.  We have a responsibility as owners, caregivers and partners to be there for our horses. When they ask a question that's important to them, it should be important to us.

Just as for us sometimes, the answer to your horse's question may not be the answer she wants, but we should at least take the time to answer it. Politely. And sometimes it'll be exactly the answer she's looking for.

How can we hear a question? When she hesitates at a cue, or request she's asking. Listen. Look in her eyes. Trust your thoughts, your intuition. It's extremely important to not be negative or demanding at this point. Your first thought, in a positive manner, will be the answer to her question. Tell her. Yes you can speak just as you would to anyone who asked a question. Tell her what she needs to know, and perhaps show her. Think of opening the way and allowing her to follow through.

The neat thing about listening for questions is, the more you do it, the better you'll become. You'll learn from each other. Questions are good things, we learn by asking. So do our horses. Reward the asking in a positive way and anything you would like to do together is possible.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

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