Some riders are convinced that their horse has a devious plan for world domination- at their expense. Or that their horse is so lazy that any work from him will require a fight. Some riders just think their horses are stupid- and aren’t afraid to say so right out loud.
I think these are all sure signs that a horse has given up on his rider.
“She seems kind of flighty and erratic. Doesn’t have the self-respect of a yearling. I don’t trust that kind of mind in a human.”
It’s a de-evolution to get here; riding began in a much more joyous, wonder-filled place. But when affirmative work with a horse starts to go bad, a kind of passive adversity sneaks in.
Communication with the horse gives way to having an unhappy internal diatribe, focusing on what’s wrong and never rewarding what’s right. Riders grow louder with their cues or more critical of the horse’s response. Eventually we are at war, training resistance and killing try.
“Eeouw! Does this human have needles in her sit bones? What a pain in the back!”
When emotions or impatience take the place of communication- there is a domino effect of bad behavior, usually on both sides.
My favorite trainer referred this as too much blood in your eye- riding blindly for the goal instead of working the training process in the moment.
RESET: What if the horse is telling the truth? What if you are actually asking for what your horse is giving? Or is there a chance the horse is getting conflicting cues- like pulling back on a rein while asking forward with a whip?
“Forward? Back? WHAT???”
Horses get tense, confused, and resistant. Finally, most horses just shut down (by over-reacting or under-reacting.)
“Can you believe the flap this human is making? She’s so confused, poor thing, she’s just scattered. Maybe if I ignore her, she will settle…”
Humans do have limited senses to begin with, and then our intellect distracts us from using them effectively. When human brains spin thoughts like a rat on a wheel, we lose zen.
“Poor Humans. They have such limitation: senses that are hardly worth mentioning, only two legs and erratic leadership skills. How have they even survived so long with such limited ability? If not for us equines, they would certainly have perished centuries ago.”
I am continually amazed by horse’s willingness to forgive our shortcomings and give us another chance. There is resilience enough to share if we can steady our thoughts and be as responsive as we want our horse to be.
Because when horse and rider have an actual 2-way conversation, minds and bodies come together. Synchronicity! The horse relaxes into rhythm, he blows and chews, and the ride becomes effortless in a stride. It’s like the horse congratulates us (rider and trainer) for getting it right.
“But sometimes I have such hope for this species. (stretch, blow…) I know that one day they will learn to communicate. (lick, lick, chew…) I believe humans are capable of so much more than some equines think possible.”
Anna, Infinity Farm.