Horses are a mystery; horse whispering, it’s magic; horses are sentient beings and should not be ridden! Or the other side, Horse whispering is hogwash, new age stuff for girls that will get you killed, horses are easy kick them to go, pull back to stop and show them who is the boss.
In all things there are extremes, you won’t be surprised to learn that the world of horses is no exception. There are those who believe horses are only for friendship, never to be told what to do, expected to do anything, certainly never ridden; and if riding is not off limits, it should be done only bareback and bridle-less and only if the horse want to. These are the people who are always feeding treats and don’t go anywhere with their horses because their horse doesn’t want to get into the trailer. These people know their horses need friends but only if it’s completely safe.
Then there are those who believe horses are dangerous must be ridden everyday from the time they turn 2, shown who is boss, riding without a bit and tie downs and saddle, helmet and vest is dangerous. You know, chain always over the nose, not trusting the horse to go or stop, cross ties in the isle way...
This is not a piece about judgement, just observation. Look around and you will see the strong stance people take to defend or spurn “The Past,” meaning however they learned as either being absolutely right or absolutely wrong.
WHAT IF THERE IS SOME TRUTH IN ALL THINGS?
What might be possible if we really observed instead of assigning meaning right away? That is what people who are labelled by others as horse whispers are so good at. They are people who have done enough emotional fitness work to be calm and present; allow and expect horses to partner up! I’m not talking about the one on the street corner claiming to be a horse whisper and nothing about them is quiet. I’m not saying they don’t have skill as horseman, that is just another
This photo is from a wikipedia page called Natural Horsemanship. These are wild horses being approached by a person employing these techniques
This is a photo from a wikipedia page called bits and this photo is demonstrating some of the effects of using these techniques.
These are both extreme opposite examples of 1.) completely relying on trust and 2.) completely relying on control. And if I could show you a progression of photos in this format, I would show you about 100 pictures of varying degrees of these extremes and somewhere in the middle the two would meet! Which just might be the place where the horse and the human can be safe and have fun together. What if we based our horsemanship on observation of our horses actions with us and others instead of what we believe or others tell us to believe?
Now, I know OBSERVATION is hard. Hard from our DNA level because our properly working brains are designed to solve problems and look for answers, they fill in for what is not there. Have you seen this video? https://youtu.be/UfA3ivLK_tE Go ahead and follow the link and watch it, it’s only about 1 minute long. This one expands on that short video https://youtu.be/IGQmdoK_ZfY.
I wrote a whole book about cultivating this level of sensitivity in our horsemanship called “UNRIDLED” The Heart and Practice of Graceful Horsemanship. There are practical exercises in the book to help you observe what is actually happening and thereby building your confidence in what you know so you don’t have to believe in all that stuff in the first paragraph! “Horses are a mystery; horse whispering, it’s magic; horses are sentient beings and should not be ridden! Or the other side, Horse whispering is hogwash, new age stuff for girls that will get you killed, horses are easy kick them to go, pull back to stop and show them who is the boss. “
Here is one exercise from the book:
* Grab a friend who has read this article
* Go out to a herd of horses free in a pasture, you can go inside with them or stay out, it does not matter.
* Share Clean Observations about the horses. At least 10 observations each.
An observation is what everyone can see with no interpretation.
*After each observation is shared, ask one another, “Observation or Interpretation?” If there is any hesitation or disagreement, likely it’s an interpretation. Here is an example of an observation versus interpretation “The horses are eating” vs. “The horses are hungry” Now they might be hungry or they might not (interpretation) but they are for sure eating (observation.)
Now this friend will be valuable when you want to say, send your horse forward on the longe and your horse goes backward. Have your friend share observations about you and your horse. Observations only, not possible solutions or interpretations, just observations.
This is horse whispering. Observe what is happening and stop doing the thing that is causing it. It ALL begins with clean observation. It’s not a mystery, it’s not spiritual, it’s not hogwash. It’s actual observation.
I think real horse whispering is just like the picture above. What information are the horses sharing about us in the pasture! :) Isn’t this suppose to be fun?
Mary Ann Brewer is the Author of “UNBRIDLED” The Heart and Practice of Graceful Horsemanship. Through her company “In the Company of Horses Inc” in NJ she studies horse behavior, teaches horsemanship workshops, helps people solve horse problems, consults with clients from all over the world and has co-facilitated more than 11,000 people in Equine assisted learning sessions for personal growth. www.inthecompanyofhorses.com