Are You Your Horse’s Behavior?
Observing the horse – rider relationship over many years has made it clear to me that the connection between horse and rider is far more robust than we might think. This connection between human and equine runs far deeper than an affectionate nudge or a nip on the arm. Horses have a sense that we humans eliminated from our consciousness long ago. They are truly empathic and notice the deepest of human emotions, even when we do our level best to suppress them. The connection runs deep and reveals total honesty and truth. You cannot lie about your feelings to a horse, they know!
Over the Bank Holiday weekend, a friend of mine had the task of moving her injured pony in a trailer and she shared the story with me. Jazz has a long history of displaying a strong aversion to loading and of course her owner was expecting a rough ride. The vet provided sedative to calm the situation (for Jazz that is!) and the trailer was prepared so it was as open and inviting as possible. As she waited for the sedative to take effect, the owner was shifting from foot to foot, pacing up and down and clearly feeling the anxiety in anticipation of what was to come.
A sedated Jazz was walked out of the stable and purposefully towards the waiting transport. She took a look, walked forward and then stopped dead at the foot of the ramp. Two hours of patient coaxing later, she was still there, sharing in the anxiety of her owner!
The challenge of dealing with equine behavior has more to do with the handler or rider than you might first anticipate. We may consciously attempt to project the feelings of calm and confident, it’s what is happening at the unconscious level that connects with the horse.
The NLP Communication model illustrates how our unconscious processing affects our behaviour:
Our unconscious filtering produces an internal representation, which produces our internal state, which changes our physiology and directly produces our behavior. In order to really give a horse a calm sense of confidence and to change their behavior, we must first look to ourselves and make deep changes within the powerful unconscious mind. This is where NLP thinking and technology comes in. Using NLP, we can make those required changes easily and rapidly and demonstrate to our horses that the trust they have in us is not misplaced. Equine behavior has a human foundation.