It is a pre-conceived notion, that if we domesticate a wild animal to be completely submissive to meet our needs and agendas, then we have mastered the full respect of the animal. Truly, we do not own animals. The animals are owned by a higher-being, we are honored to be able to meet their needs, and provide them with an environment in which they can flourish.
Humans crave the feeling of controlling or dominating. Initially, animals are “born free” to run, play and explore their world in any manner they choose. Animals are not governed by laws, rules or regulations. Animals are a constant reminder that our world is not a wonderful place to exist without them. We need them to connect us, ground us, inspire us and re-shape our thought processes. Animals do not need us to exist. We are not here to train them, they are here to train us. Are you ready to be trained?
We are intrigued by the process of embracing a horse, training a horse to be submissive and watching the horse to perform to meet our expectations. We have to meet the expectations of the horse first, then our expectations will follow second. It ONLY works in that order. It is crucial for people to be submissive, obedient, respectful, honest and cooperative to the horse standing before them. It is an unspoken language and sequence of events that is conveyed from the horse to the human being. Are you in touch with this unspoken language?
Establishing this relationship takes time, energy and patience. The end result will be successful for the both of you, if we are willing to take the time to work on a relationship with the horse. The relationships you work on are successful, and when we don’t work on a relationship, it eventually fails.
Techniques that we use to build a relationship with the horse are individualistic to each animal that stands before us. By taking a step back, to comprehend what the animal needs and meeting those needs, is just the beginning.
First, we approach the animal in a gentle, humble manner touching the animal all over their body. We are establishing trust with the animal, by physically showing them affection, and that the intention is clearly to be close to the animal. This is also demonstrated by brushing the animals hair, physically hugging and using an endearing voice tone. We have to please the animal by completely being submissive and assessing their needs. They need to feel safe in our presence or absence from that initial interaction. It is imperative that we transmit a peaceful approach to ensure long term emotional stability of the animal. If we are unable to project and truly dedicate ourselves to ensuring a safe environment for the horse, then we have established the ground work for a succession of failures that will now follow. Horses need to feel safe.
Second, we assess the animals readiness to learn or play. Young horses, like young children, learn through playing and exploring. Aged horses enjoy learning new techniques, as well as reviewing previously learned skills. If the learning experience is viewed from the animal as being a positive, enjoyable experience, the animal will now become “open” to exploring new tasks. Allow the animal to teach you the format in which they want to be taught. At the same time, we have to be open to exploring new tasks that the horse is presenting to us. Practical methods for facilitating change of attitudes and behavior is ultimately role modeled through us. View this process as the horse is the director of the educational program, and we are the eager student learning how-horses-learn. Horses are not reading books or watching videos about us. Horses are the Great Observers. We are constantly trying to figure them out. Who is at the learning curve here?
Third, horses are intellectually and emotionally capable of identifying their own needs and expectations. It is our responsibility to interpret the unspoken language from the horse. We know that behavior is learned and new behavior can be learned. Horses present their problems in logical ways, we tend to view the presentation of the problem as confusing, instead we should be viewing the problem as a horses response to their environment. During a parade, we had a horse rear up on his back feet as he heard the siren of the ambulance in the distance. All of the other horses began to rear up on their back feet. They had to rear up to see what they were hearing. Once they saw the ambulances, they were fine, and came back to the ground on all fours. They were simply trying to understand and visually see what the noise was that was very loud and chaotic in nature. Horses utilize their own innate natural senses to problem-solve.
The ingredients for a successful interaction is being able to completely surrender yourself to meet the horses needs first, establish a relationship with a horse and allow the horse to direct you with what you need to do, to be successful with them. The ingredients that we use to make a successful recipe only turn out the way we intended them to, if we follow all the steps. Remember that working with horses appears to be magical. Magic is an illusion. Ultimately, the gateway to achievement is to shift the distribution of power from person to horse, change your perspectives, discover new aspects of yourself, execute change as needed, form alliances, reframing the meaning “we are training this horse”, and accepting the animal as your teacher.