Friday, December 28, 2012

Building Word Recognition

When teaching a child communication skills we generally start with a few simple words. Like Mama and Dada. We also work on getting them to know the difference. We then start to teach them to recognize and say words that represent parts of their body, numbers, colors, animals, etc...

When building a communication with horses. It is important to know that most of the things we want to communicate to them, they already know how to do. We just need to figure out how we can communicate to them the things we would like for them to do.

Now, a trainer trains the horse. Training consists of actually teaching them to do something they don't know how to do. Horsemanship is about communicating to the horse that we would like them to do something. Usually its something they can already do on their own. So in short, horsemanship is learning how to communicate with the horse. To communicate there must be word recognition. In most cases when we are working with horses its subtle body language instead of words. The thing about this is. The horse already understands body language better than we do. So it is important to remember that we need to pay more attention to ourselves, rather than the horse.

If we go back to the child for a second. When we show them a red crayon, and we teach them to recognize the color red. We know there are many shades of red. But in the beginning we keep it simple. So when we communicate with the horse we need to be aware that it is very similar to this example. For instance, if I ask the horse to move his hind end so he can turn and face me. It starts with just a step in the right direction. But we need to be very clear with our intention. This means we need to pay attention to their posture, speed, apprehension if there is any, how big of a step, and do we want or notice if the front end takes a step forward, backward , left, or right. In the beginning we will reward each little try. As we practice, we want to hold them to a higher standard. Rewarding every time its better than the last time. In 10 or 15 minutes you can have them recognizing quite a few shades of that red, (so to speak).

We would do this for all the basic maneuver's like, step forward, step backward, move the hind end to the right or left, move the front end to the right or left. We can get fancy later. In the beginning all the basic things have to be in place. We need to be able to communicate to them that we would like them to do all this quietly and respectfully,even with distractions, before we go any further. During all this you will need to be aware of many things. For instance, what is your body language saying, do you have their attention, is something happening other than what you intend, just to name a few. There is so much happening all at once. You really need to be aware and evaluate constantly.

Once you have somewhat of a vocabulary you can move to building sentences. With horses it can raise their anxiety when you start asking more of them. This is why it is so important to have control of their emotions. At least to a point were they look to you for advice when their nervous or confused. This will help keep them from running away, or minimizing how far they run before turning to face you.

We will talk more about building sentences in our next post. We hope you have been enjoying our posts. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Starting the conversation

When you start a conversation, you would more than likely get the attention of the other party by saying excuse me, or pardon me. Having their attention is important in order for them to truly understand what it is that we are saying to them.

When I am working with a horse for the first time. I like to start by getting their attention. I would do this just by being there. If I don't get a response I might kiss to them or maybe start walking toward them till I do get a response. Then I would stop and maybe even backup a step or two. I would keep doing this till I had them looking at me no matter where I went or what I was doing. Once I have their undivided attention. Now I can move on to working on having them turn and face me. If they do this well I may test them a little to see how they feel about me. I do this by making a quick movement. In order to do this and get proper results, you have to make sure you set up for success. Make sure that when you make this quick movement, that you are prepared to control the direction if the horse thinks about running away. Also make sure you are able to cut them off and stop them from running. Sometimes they will go to the fence and just keep changing directions. Soon they will think about turning and looking at you. When they do, stop and walk away. This is something I do to get them thinking more about me. It helps to get them to pay more attention. It also teaches them to look to me for leadership and advise. They soon will start to focus on me for a cue anytime there is an issue of any kind.

A lot of trainers do something for desensitizing with their horses. It is important to know, we don't just want them to get used to what ever it is that scares them. There is no way we can possibly get them used to everything that will scare them. What we should be doing is teaching them to look to us for advice when their scared. This way no matter what it is, even if it is something they never seen before, they are going to wait on us to give them direction. If we work on this in different ways, we gain their trust. They will start to look at us as a confidant leader. They will trust us with their life. We do this by taking control of their emotions. Once they know you can control their direction and emotions then you become leader and it will hardly ever be tested once its established.

I work with a horses emotions right away. When I go in to be with them or trying to get their attention. Anytime while I am with the horse, if I notice any nervousness I will use it to my advantage. I do this by not stopping what I am doing till the horse acknowledges me. In the beginning I will stop there. As I continue I want them to show me signs of relaxation. Always wanting just that little bit more each time. We have to remember that progress won't come by staying in the same place. We need to move on and ask for a little more each time. It is very attainable to make huge progress in just 10 minutes. Some people are afraid to move to fast and that leaves them in same place for way to long. For some, days, months or even years.

The whole time I am working with a horse I am aware of what they're doing, how they feel, where they are going, and if it is something I asked for or if they are doing it on their own. I am always evaluating what they are doing, what I am doing, and if anything needs to change.

In the next post I will talk about the process I use to start increasing their vocabulary. Some of it is verbal cues. Most of it is just communicating to them that I need something to happen. None of this would work if we didn't get their attention first.

I would like to remind everyone, this is an interactive Blog. Comments and Questions are always welcome.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas, God, and Subtle Communication

Christmas is here. A time to spread good cheer. A time to be with close friends and family.

Christmas to me is a time to remember and celebrate the birth and the teachings of Jesus Christ. A great man who came to teach us compassion.( Now he was a great communicator.) He always knew what to say and when to say it and what to do and when to do it. His teachings are so strong, even 2 thousand years later we are still trying to learn from them.
The True meaning of Christmas is supposed to be this form of celebration.

Santa Claus is a symbol created to remember the spirit of St. Nick. A man who must have had a great relationship with Jesus Christ. He spread joy and good will everywhere he went. At Christmas we use Santa Claus to help our children understand some Christmas Spirit. We let them believe until they are old enough to figure out something isn't right. Then we tell them he don't exist. Well let me say,"I still and always will believe in Santa Clause." When a child tells me Santa isn't real I tell them he is and one day you can be him. I explain that there is no fat man with a red suit living at the north pole. That would be misleading. But the truth is Santa Claus lives inside each and every one of us. That's how he sees everything. We all have a desire to help put a smile on someones face, or to make a dream come true for someone. In order to be a true Santa you must never want recognition for your good deed.

 Gift giving is a symbolic way to show compassion. Its one of the reasons it became a Christmas tradition.  The Merchants of the world saw a chance to make money on this. They use subtle communication skills to get us to by a product they supply. The adds you see are more than telling you about the product. It tells you, you need it. They lead you to believe you can't live without it. In subtle ways you aren't even aware of.

God speaks to us every day in subtle ways. Most of us are totally unaware. Everything that we do has a direct relation to God's will. Many people pray to God to have a communication with him. I also pray to God. I think I look at prayer different than most. Prayer to me is about keeping the lines of communication open. I know God Knows my every thought, wish and desire. I don't pray to tell him things he already knows. I pray so to keep me aware of his communication back to me. So that I can pick up on the subtle things that have meanings I may otherwise not be aware of. I think its very important to search for the messages in our daily life so we will be able to pick up on the subtle cues we may be missing. The more we are aware, the more we will pick up on. We miss things all the time. Some of our mistakes are because of that. The others are because he needed us to learn something from it. Don't ever feel like your being picked on by God. Or that he's not with you when you need him. He is always with you. You just have be aware of the many ways he communicates with us.

Subtle Communication is huge in Horsemanship. Many people aren't even aware of what they are saying to their horse. A slight lean in one direction means so much. Facial expressions are things that matter also. We make some faces when we do things that we don't even know we are making. Our posture tells them so much also. It can say whether we are confidant or insecure. It can also say whether we are in a good mood or a bad mood. The horse will pick up on it whatever it is saying.

A Horse lives its life reading subtle cues from the rest of the herd. They are so aware of what is going on around them even the slightest movement will get picked up. They communicate through body language. Its a language few people understand. It goes deep into your psyche. Its the reason some of us are afraid of things like snakes, mice and  bugs. When you feel intent is unpredictable, you become scared. Sometimes that is why our horses are scared and nervous about things as well.

As I get deeper into these writings I will do my best to bring this all together so you will have a better understanding. It may take some going back and forth to make connections. I will admit I am still learning. I also admit that I will never stop. I am totally aware that I will never know it all, no matter how long I pursue it. I just want to share my learning with anyone who shares the same interest.
Thank you for reading.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Alphabets of Communication

In our last post we discussed a few methods of communication. 
We also talked about the importance of intention and how we must be clear and confidant about it.

In this post I would like to talk about something that I use as a way to remind my students of some of what I think are the most important principles of communication. I call it The Alphabets of Communication.

As mentioned in our last post. We are most used to our verbal and written communication. It is made up of words formed into sentences. The progress continues into paragraphs,chapters, stories, and books. But it all starts with the letters that make up the words, our Alphabets. It's made up of 26 letters. The letters we tend to use most are our vowels. A E I O U and sometimes Y. These are the letters I like to use to help my students remember some very important principals. Each letter will represent a term or terms. These terms will be explained below in brief. In future posts they will explained in greater detail.

A: I use two words for A because they are both related to each other. The words are Attention and Awareness. In order to communicate with someone, (or your horse) you both must be paying Attention to each other and you must both be Aware of how and what you are communicating. In later posts I will explain this much deeper on how this relates to communicating with horses.

E: I use the word Evaluate. This corresponds well with Attention and Awareness. We need to Evaluate ourselves and the other party so as to be able to make sure we are clear with our Intention. In order to Evaluate we need to be Aware of things like mood, posture, Attention, and most of all Response.

I: You may have guessed is Intention. As I said earlier,"Confidently show clear intention respectfully and you will get results." We also need to be Aware of the other parties Intention. If we are we'll get less surprises. If we are paying Attention, are Aware, and make proper Evaluations. We can be clear with our Intention and be more Aware of the other parties Intention.

O: I like to use a word that means timing. Opportune. It is important to be able to notice when the Opportune moment would be to act, react, or interact. If your timing is right, you will be more likely to get better results.

U: I use the word Understand. We must Understand that we / or the other party may not fully Understand something. The saying is true. We don't know what we don't know till we learn it. It is also true that what we do know and Understand is only relative to our experience of the subject. We usually have so much more to learn. No matter how much we know about it.

Y: I use the words Why and Why not. I also use the phrase You Yourself. We always need to be asking the questions Why and Why not. It allows us to do a better job in our Evaluation. It will also help us to be more Aware. As long as we are paying Attention. If both questions are answered. Then we will have a better Understanding. The You Yourself is the answer for the questions above. Especially If something isn't going well. I say that because we can only control our action in order to get a better outcome. If we make excuses like. These people are so unreasonable. Then we loose the power to make a change for the better. We need to look back at ourselves to see what do we need to do in order to make progress. Sometimes the only answer is, we need to end the conversation for now.

To put this all together. In order to communicate, we need to have Understanding, and Intention. We need to Understand the other parties Intention, and we need to be clear with our Intention. This all becomes easy the more we pay Attention. The more Aware we are, The better we can Evaluate. If we Evaluate we can find or create the most Opportune moments to interact. We can gain a better Understanding by always asking Why and Why not. If we remember that the answer should always be You Yourself. Then you will be more likely to look back at yourself to find answers instead of looking at the other party and making excuses.

I hope you enjoyed reading this and find it helpful. These things mentioned above are things I am always trying to remind myself and my students about. It's something that starts to grow inside of you the more Aware you are. You will make mistakes. We tend to miss things that are right in front of our faces. Mistakes are a learning process. Don't be afraid to make them.
Please, all comments are welcome. Lets Communicate together.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Simple Communication

Communication is done in many ways. We communicate verbally by speaking to each other. We can communicate in writing. We can also communicate through body language or gestures.

In order to speak to someone. You must both speak the same language so that you can understand each other.

The same is true for writing to someone. But more so you must both be able to read and write.

Body language is something that is almost instinctive. If someone gives us a dirty look we can tell right away that they may not like us, or didn't like what we just said. At the same time if someone is genuinely happy to see us. We can tell in the way they great us.

We, the human race, have relied on verbal and written communication for so long that it seams we listen to and believe everything that we are told. We tend to ignore the body language that could tell us if the person we are communicating with is being truthful, or they are hiding something.

In our written language we can't see any body language. What we can see are keys in the writing itself. The use of punctuation is a key to help us understand. We can go even deeper into the writing and see the intent of the person writing it. With practice you can tell when someone is trying to put one over on you. Of course there are people who are professionals at getting there lies made believable in the way they communicate.

This is why it is important to take and learn as many principals of communication as you can. I have put together something that helps me communicate with People and Horses. It doesn't matter whether you are talking, writing, or using body language. The principals will work and help you have a better understanding of them, and they can have a better understanding of you.

I always say "Confidently Show Clear Intention Respectfully, and you will get results."
With that being said your confidence needs to be knowledge based. We can't be bold, or it can't be out of bravery. Confidence with a knowledge base will give a good secure feeling to the other party. A brave or bold confidence will come of as arrogance. This may tend to repel the other party.
knowing as much as possible about the topic you are communicating, allows you to feel confident. If you are teaching something its even more important. Knowing what is supposed to happen and what could happen will give you the ability to react in a positive way if something doesn't work out.

Clear Intention is something we all need to recognize. Intention isn't just a thought, or a wish. It requires some sort of follow through. We can't say one thing and mean another. We also have to be on the lookout for the intention of the other party. How many times have you been told something, and when it came down to it. You find out you were mislead? Clear intention is something that is real important to recognize. Whether you are talking, writing, or gesturing.

 Respectfully sounds so simple. It can be, but for some of us we are to busy trying to respect the other and not requiring them to respect us. Respect is a two way street. Some of us don't even know what respect is. Now that's a problem. With respect given and received, we will be able to communicate better. An example of this could be. If you were talking to someone you don't have any respect for. You may not even care at all about what they are trying to say.