Connection or Performance
Recently, I have noticed a very positive phenomenon. I am working with more and more clients who express a genuine desire to have a better connection with their horses. It is, however, important to be wary of the misconception that connection is synonymous with performance. If a horse is performing well, some people think they have a connection when in reality, through sheer repetition, the horse has been drilled to the point that he looks like a robot just going through the motions. In order to make a true connection with a horse and to develop a real relationship, you must be able to “read” your horse well enough to know how he feels about his training. Most importantly, before any training can begin, the horse must be allowed to choose whether or not he wants a relationship with YOU! Take the tack off, leave the gate open, and see what your horse does.
As herd animals, horses already know a thing or two about both connection and relationship. For thousands of years, their very survival was dependent upon these two concepts. So what is the secret to making a connection with a horse? The secret lies within the horse, not the human. When you are in the company of a horse, he wants to know three things:
Who are you?
What do you want?
How do you operate?
If you approach a horse with an agenda or an expectation, he will read this energy and you will definitely start off on the wrong hoof! Simply begin by sharing territory. This basic yet crucial step is often overlooked. A true relationship cannot begin until the horse comes to you of his own FREE WILL. You might have to wait months for this incredible moment. As hard as it may be, refrain from interacting with your horse the first time he comes to explore you. He needs time to satisfy his own natural curiosity about you. When we are constantly doing things with horses, we are forsaking their natural desire to explore who WE are. Once a horse has come to me and explored me, I know we can begin our relationship.
I remember when I first began sharing territory with my horse Shadow. On that special day, I sat in my arena reading a book while Shadow ate hay. After about twenty minutes, Shadow came over to “check me out.” He began to explore me with his nose and sniffed me from head to toe. I sat and allowed Shadow to satisfy his curiosity. From that moment on, I have felt a special connection with Shadow that continues to this day. I still remain mindful to just spend time with Shadow in the pasture and in the arena. He often leaves the herd to be with me and naps as I stand vigil. Our connection has grown over the years to the point that when I leave my property, he runs parallel to my car just to be near. His actions truly exemplify the difference between connection and performance and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Have a great rest of the week and keep your eyes peeled for the rare blood moon eclipse! It should be special to see.