Saturday, 20 April 2013

A quiet conversation? - how do we communicate with our horses?

About a month ago, I went to a Perry Wood clinic at Easterton farm. I had intended to do a write-up on the clinic, but I'm not sure that my scribbled notes and observations would be hugely meaningful to anyone else, so here's some stuff I was thinking about and working on during the clinic. 

Perry probably started me thinking on these lines, at a clinic a number of years ago where he talked about avoiding conflict with your horse. At the time, to be honest, I'm pretty sure I thought of conflict as an all-out argument, probably involving feet, teeth, shouting, pushing and all that bad stuff! Now I would think of conflict as much more subtle - the little things that cause a 'disconnect' between you and your horse. 
Not Connected!! (spooking at snow falling off the roof)

I'd give Perry a good deal of credit for helping me to develop my understanding in this area, but no responsibility for where my brain is wandering off to in this blog! 

To me, the avoiding conflict thing with horses seems much the same as with people - if we want a good relationship with another person, provoking or fuelling an all-out fight usually isn't the best plan. The more subtle 'disconnects', such as a scornful look or a snide remark, can be just as damaging. 

So, my aim at the clinic was to have a relaxed conversation with a horse that I didn't know terribly well,  using diplomacy rather than war or coercion!

Lets take a concrete example before I get too abstract. Say we have established a nice connection in walk. Now I would like a smooth, balanced walk to canter transition. Before I even ask, the connection is going! My brain has suddenly got too busy, and my horse, bless him, will certainly give me the transition if I demand it, but how can he continue to have that relaxed conversation with someone appears to have just lost the plot? 

Like most horsey people,  I've got a strong 'just get on with it' attitude, and find it hard to get over the feeling that it is self-indulgent to be looking after my 'emotional' state when I'm riding.
But of course, getting yourself sorted on the inside - calm, clear and focussed on what you are doing, honest about and dealing with the things that may be taking you away from this state is not self-indulgent, it's vital in helping your horse and making being ridden by you a nice experience! 

So, I take my time, wait, sort myself from inside out, then ask. And allow myself to be genuinely delighted with the results :-)

Sadly, no video of the canter transitions, but did get this...

Calm, clear and connected :-)

No comments:

Post a Comment