Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Communication - Right From The Horses Mouth

The title of this topic will take us in a few different directions. One will be understanding the source of information that we may receive in our daily communications with others as well as our horses. Another will be about how we need  to ask our horse directly what they need from us and not just assume we know or make excuses for what is going on. They will tell you if you ask them and know how to listen for the answer.

Understanding the source of information is real important. Even if the source is a real reputable source. What I mean by this is. No one will repeat something exactly the way they heard it. So as this information goes from one to another, It will change a little each time. Not because they want to change it, but because they will repeat it in the way they understood it. I learned this lesson young by playing a game at a Halloween party as a child. If you haven't ever played this game I highly recommend you try it. The larger the group the better (or worse) the results will be. It starts with everyone in a line. Then someone in charge will have a simple sentence written on a piece of paper. They will show it to the first person and ask them to whisper it to the person next to them. Each person doing the same till it makes it to the last person. Then the last person is asked to say out loud what they were just told. Every time I have seen this done in the past the last person says something almost totally unrecognizable to the original sentence. Which every one will get to see because it is written on paper. The conversations of what each person heard on down the line are amazing to listen to.

This game was an early lesson for me in the need to seek the truth. Now Truth is never absolute. It can only be relative to our own experiences, knowledge and understanding. No matter how much you try to discover the truth it can never be absolute truth. The more information you get the closer you get, but something will always be missing.

Now, we have all heard the term,"Right From The Horses Mouth"  This by far is the best source for information. Just as in the cases above and when communicating with your horse this information is only relative to your knowledge and understanding of what you received for information. We will interpret it the way we understand it. Not necessarily the way it was intended. It requires us to do some research on the subject, no matter what it is and no matter what we think we might know. There have been times that a person has said to me,"This is what my trainer or instructor told me to do." Knowing what I know in most cases they just misunderstood the original instructions. I say this because a few times I have instructed people on some things and moments later (sometimes days later) I would have to explain it better because they interpreted it in a way that I did not intend. But this is human nature. We understand things each in our own ways. So this is why more research is always needed. With our horses it might require us to try a number of things to rule things out. A few examples I could give referring to horses could be, 1) an injury or health problem, and 2) any problem a horse might give you while working with them. Whether its on the ground asking them to do something or mounted. Not just asking them to do something but maybe they are doing something we would like them to stop doing.

In both examples above, knowing how to build a foundation will help. If you already have a reasonable foundation going back to the building of the foundation can help you ask all the important questions so you can get to the underlying issues. Most problems with a horse come from either a total or partial lack of foundation. The actual problem being that the horse does not understand. Or. Does not trust the out come of the situation. When a foundation is built and maintained it grows stronger. When it does the horse learns to trust you and will do anything you ask them to. Also you will have developed ways to ask them not to do things that you would like them to stop doing. In this way you have the ability to ask the horse directly and if you understand your horse, you will get the answers directly from the horses mouth, so to speak.

In the examples above, if fear and anxiety are the underlying issue. Then we need to go back to basics and rebuild our foundation. Working on building trust and understanding in as many areas as we can. We need to get this to a point that the horse appreciates us so much that no matter what we ask of them, they will try. Because they want to, not because we force them to. Some horses are more fearful then others. Some of them will never stop being afraid. But we can communicate to them, "Relax, I got this. You don't need to worry one bit" and no matter how scared they are, they will trust in you. This is an example of a sold foundation. The more you get them through scary moments without incident and in a positive way, the more they trust and learn to let go of their anxiety.

Having the ability to ask them to do many things gives you a better chance of diagnosing a physical problem as well. If our horse has a limp and we want to learn whether its a foot, joint, or muscle problem. If we have the ability to ask for some precise movements, then we can narrow it down. An example of this is, if the horse limps, and you can ask them to walk straight, back up, turn on the haunches, turn on the forehand, and stand still but shift there weight to be carried mostly on any one leg of your choosing. Then you have a lot of ways to ask them where the problem is. If there is heat or swelling you can find the problem easily. If there is not then you will need to ask them. If they have a hard time putting weight on a leg then you know which leg is the problem. to find out if its a joint or muscle issue you would ask them to load the muscle and not effect the joint and then avoid affecting the muscle while asking for an easy move that affects the joint. Each joint should be tested individually. Whichever is harder for them to do, that is where the problem lies. If you and your horse do not have this type of communication and they refuse or don't understand your request. Then it can be very difficult to figure things out. Of course it is wise to seek out help from a vet, farrier or hoof specialist but these things can still help you help them get a better answer and understanding of the problem.

Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed the topic. If you have anything to add please feel free to do so in the comment section. Thanks Again.

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