Finally, we have our horse! Now how do we get our horse listening to us?
In the beginning, there was a dream. The dream was of us and our amazing horse.
But now, we feel we can’t even get our horse listening to us. Why is that, we wonder. What went wrong? This is not what we wanted!
We wish it were another way. The good news is it can be. Definitely. Our horse will change faster than we can possibly imagine.
In all areas of life the easiest thing to change is ourselves. It is also the hardest thing to change due to our habits, beliefs, and values. But that still doesn’t mean it isn’t really easy to change ourselves or that we shouldn’t do it.
Horse Not Listening? There Are Reasons.
When our horse is not listening and doing what we tell them to do, there are reasons. The first reason, and probably the most likely reason, is that our horse doesn’t even know we are telling them to do something! Horses are extremely aware, but believe it or not, most of the time, our horse doesn’t get any understandable communication from us. So they just tune us out. Another reason is that many things seem easy to us, but are very difficult for horses. We may be asking something that the horse is not fully prepared for. It’s is our job to prepare our horse. Small steps work better than big steps.
When we feel we can’t get our horse listening to us, we can ask some questions. Am I: Standing in a good and safe position? Really being clear about what I am asking my horse to do? Standing far enough away from my horse that they can see I’m asking something? Is this something my horse can actually do or is it too confusing or advanced? Am I giving my full attention to my horse while I am expecting full attention back? Is my mind somewhere else? Am I talking to another non-horse (human) instead of giving full attention to my horse? Am I so focused on the end result that I am forgetting to notice and reward the small tries so my horse and I can enjoy all of the the little successes along the way?
The Beauty Is In The Moment
If we can remember that the beauty is in the moment to moment journey and in the time we get to spend with our horse, it will help us and our horse tremendously. If we are focused on a future event, say the completion of the thing we are trying to do, we are already disconnected from our horse. Horses live in the present moment and they know it when we are not right there with them. They feel the disconnect, they feel they are all alone, and they feel they have to watch out for themselves. Unfortunately for them, they are tied to us.
So let’s make it a habit of getting into the moment with our horse. This is the thing we are craving anyway and may be part of the reason we got our horse in the first place.
Horse Listening? Or We Aren’t Speaking?
If our horse won’t listen, it may be that we are not speaking in a language that they understand.
On the ground, with your horse on a line: Pick something you know your horse would be able to do. Be in a safe place with plenty of space around. Keep a safe distance from your horse. This distance is farther than you think because it helps equalize reaction times and allows the horse to see us better. Check out The Golden Rule of Horse Safety.
Use your body language: Stand relaxed then stand up straight and look your horse in the eyes. Did your horse notice? If so, great. If not, repeat several times to see if they look at you.
Don’t make a big deal out of it, but you are going to do this every time before you ask something of your horse.
There will soon come an amazing time when all you will have to do is begin to stand up straight and look at them and they will look at you knowing you are going to do something together! What a feeling! This is the beginning of a great connection and relationship.
Horses Notice Everything
Horses notice everything. It is we who may not be giving them anything to notice.
Ask your horse to do the thing you had in mind. Watch closely: Keep watching your horse’s face. Is he: watching you? Looking away? Afraid of something? Relaxed? Now, is your horse beginning to listen to you? That’s the big one. Keep asking and watching until your horse does something (the slightest something) in the direction of what you asked. Do not think your horse has to do the end result. Remember: it’s the journey and the journey has many, many steps. See if you can get any shift in the direction of what you’re asking.
Horses Don’t Know We’re Communicating!
Many (or most) horses don’t even know we are talking to them or that there is something they can understand. Change that and everything changes.
Be kind to yourself and your horse and be a detective of the little changes. Reward them by pausing, acknowledging their try, and then ask again. Your horse and you will like it better.
Suggestion: Video yourself doing this so you can see if it looks the same as it felt while you were doing it. You can learn a lot from a video.
Good luck and welcome to a whole new and amazing chapter of life with your horse.
There will be lots more on this topic as we go along, so stay tuned.
For more information now, you can check out About Horse Training And Why Our Horse Needs it.
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P.S. If you just want answers right now about how to get your horse listening and doing what you want, email Pat@Horse-Solutions.com, Subject: Set Up Free 15-Minute Phone Call