What we say to our horses ... it matters. Words have
meanings, we all understand that, but do we sometimes ignore the unintended consequences?
I believe politeness matters. I believe our horses recognize
politeness ... and indifference, selfishness and rudeness in speech, action and
We hear so much about partnering with our horses and the overabundance
of techniques for gaining that partnership, or sometimes perceived partnership.
Most of these discussed and sought after practices for producing partnership
are centered on training the horse. I believe that just may be backwards. I’ve
often written about my deep dislike for round penning, and any other technique
that “teaches” the horse. From the first instant a horse meets a person they
get them. And as the old saying goes, “It takes a long time to overcome a bad
first impression.” But horses also analyze every step of the way, and they
remember everything. Forever.
How can we achieve a deep, trusting and caring partnership
with our horse? Easy, we earn it. In everything we do with our horses we should
ask, not demand. Remember horses are keen preceptors of feelings, signals and vibes.
That’s why what we say, and how we say it matters so very much. Don’t believe
me? Try this, think of the word “stupid”—and concentrate on how your body and
energy feel. Now think of the words “good boy”—and concentrate on how your body
and energy feel. Big difference right?
I’m always amazed at people who act and speak rudely to
their horses, I hope most of us are. Not all that uncommon though is it? What
about folks who are sweet as pie with their horse, until something goes in a
direction that person did not want? Then the sweetness falls from the pretense
and rudeness, demands, or condescension come out and the horse is called, lazy,
stupid, stubborn, unwilling, and actions, body language and vibes come with those words.
And the horse hears, feels and sees them—and becomes confused ... Which person
do I follow?
That confusion chips away at trust, and trust is the
keystone to any partnership.
I believe to achieve a deep, trusting and caring partnership
with our horse; politeness must be the very foundation on which we build. When
I hold a clinic before we begin I always explain, in everything we do we will
be polite, and there will be no discipline.
In everything we do, if we are polite in our actions and
words our horse will pick up on that, and bond with us in a way that far surpasses
any training technique that focuses on demands, and a power play.
Always conducting ourselves in a manner rooted in politeness
also teaches the horse to be polite, willing and trusting. It really is that
Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry
I invite you to have a look at my book, "It's for the Horses: An advocate's musings on their needs, spirit, gifts and care," here www.itsforthehorses.com