Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Mind Controls The Body And Emotions

This is very much a true statement.  We must first have a thought before it becomes an action. Even a reflex response is a rapid firing response to a thought. Our emotions and feelings are also tied to thoughts.

The nervous system is an amazing part of all living creatures. The main control of this is the mind. Signals are sent and received by the mind. Through this we think, feel and respond. I can go into great detail on this but my goal here is to explane some communication concepts.

Anyone who has been around enough horses knows that the horse is one big "NERVOUS" system.  So if we can connect ourselves with the horses mind, we can have some control over their movements and their emotions.

A concept I like to get people thinking of is. Address the thought before it becomes an action. If we can do this. We become connected to the horses mind.  Once we get good at it, this will allow us to see, think and feel all their thoughts. If  we address the thought our response is that much more timely. If we address the action we are at minimum 5 seconds to late.  Maybe more. The only way to stay completely in front and on time is to not have to respond at all. How? By keeping the horses mind thinking the same thing yours is, all the time. By keeping the mind active and thinking with us we minimize their stray thoughts. This will minimize how often we need to make corrections.  By doing this we do less negative reinforcement and stay more in positive reinforcement.  And this will make your horse like you better. In the beginning it can be difficult. The horses attention will stray and you will have to be very diligent.   But if you can get the horses attention on you or the task it is on and keep it there. Then things get a lot easier and way better.

Another concept I like is. Get the horse to think in a direction and the feet will follow. This is something I do in the saddle, on the ground and sometimes from great distances or even when I am out of sight. This concept is not easy for everyone to grasp and understand. There are so many ways to apply it. But I am able to get a horse to go stand in a certain spot from as far as 1,000 ft away as long as I have a motivating factor.  Usually the motivator is another horse but sometimes its me if the horse really wants me to come to it. Maybe they are waiting for some feed. Whatever the motivation as long as you have one you can do this. Just get them to think in a direction and reward every thought and movement towards it and discourage any thought or movement away from it. I know I just made it sound easy. But it really isn't that easy. What will make it easy is your ability to truly know what they are thinking and your timely response to it. The example above is something I do when I have an anxious or excited horse pacing at a gate waiting for another horse, some feed or just wants me to come get them. I want a horse to not be a pest and let me come in with the other horse or feed and not be mugged in the process. Its also a good way to manage emotions in an excitable horse. Because we can ask them through their thoughts to go stand and relax in a certain spot before we come in. Being they are loose in the pen and we are outside the pen at sometimes great distances.  They have to think it before they can do it. And we can guide their thoughts like that. As I said above. There are so many ways to apply this. It applys to every situation you can think of.

One more concept I would like to talk about is. Talk to the mind and not the body. If we initiate a thought into the horses mind and let their mind move their body themselves.  Then we give them more confidence in us and the added responsibility for themself increases their own self confidence as well. By speaking directly to the mind, the mind filters out anxiety and inhibitions making the horse calmer and more relaxed. Allowing them to be more calm and natural in their movement.

So when it comes to communicating with our horses. Our thoughts and theirs need to come together on common ground in order for us to understand each other and have a respectful conversation. If we can see and feel their thoughts, we respond more timely and appropriately.  If you have ever had a conversation through messaging that had some lag time. You may have experienced questions or statements that were being typed while you were typing something else. It can get a bit messy and confusing.  Specially if we go back and read it later. This is pretty much what happens when we miss a thought and respond to an action. It can get horses frustrated and confused or nervous.  And if you miss it all together and never respond at all the horse will surely see you as less compidant and probably not trust you.

When we ride or do our ground work we have our techniques and cues that we use to communicate our intentions to the horse. What we need to remember is even a horse that knows all the cues and can do so many different things to all of our cues or special codes. They are not a machine with a simple remote control  Many of us go at our communication in this way. Throwing a cue at them and expect them to respond. In most cases it will work for you. But the horse has a mind and the mind has thoughts. Get their attention and talk to the mind. Allow them to think with you and all your cues and techniques will work better. You can take this even further by getting better at connecting and communicating mentally, only using your cues as an insurance policy when they don't respond. Of course its not telepathy.  Its a response to your thoughts and actions. But the real Suttle things will be felt and responded to. Sometimes it looks like magic and feels really good.

I hope you enjoyed this and found it informative.
Thanks for reading.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Horsemanship Techniques

Many of us who are into horses spend a lot of time and money going to lessons, clinic, demonstrations and seminars to learn whatever we can to improve our skills. Unfortunately we put to much of our efforts into learning techniques so we can learn how to tell the horse what we are asking instead of learning how to listen to our horse and feel their thoughts and emotions.

Have you ever watched someone use a technique that made the job look easy? Then you try it and it doesn't work as well or maybe not at all in some cases?  If you ever wonder why it didn't work so well for you and it did for the other person. Its because the other person was more in tuned and aware of more things that were going on or present at the moment. What things, you might ask? Well the answer would be, EVERYTHING.   Attention, awareness, energy, movement,  location, posture, frame, emotions,  direction, ability, just to name a few. We are truly multitasking when we work with our horse. It doesn't matter whether we are doing ground work or riding.

Techniques are very abundant.  I have learned a dozen or more techniques for many of the things I do. The technique is not what trains the horse. What does is being able to have our intention clearly understood. The technique is the least important aspect in the equation.  Sure we need to have a few that we understand and can do well. But we need to be more aware of everything elses so our timing will be better. Its a conversation.  A 2 way conversation.  Listen to them and respond to them appropriately. Be aware of their thoughts and emotions.  As well as where you and your horse is and where you are both going.  If you are just going in a general direction you are just, sort of asking, or sort of guiding. We want to be very clear and very precise.  Not to be picky or demanding but to be extremely clear so they will have a better understanding of what you are looking for.

What you do and how you do it really doesn't matter all that much. And no matter what you do and how you do it, there is always room for improvement no matter what stage of understanding you are at.

I recently had a customer who was working with her horse and her horse was misbehaving.  I said to her, "you need to address that." She asked me, "what should I do." I told her, "it doesn't matter."  So now I can assume many of you have a very questioning look on your face just as she did when I said it. But really it doesn't .matter. The only thing that matters is that you address it and make sure your intentions are clear. Do whatever you think you can do at the moment that will get your point across. Sure there are better options in some cases than in others. But your timely resonce and being clear is the most important aspect.

If there is one thing that makes me frown a little its when someone says, "my trainer said when a horse does that you should do this." It may be a great technique.  But this is what i call "Gossip Training" it might not be the ideal thing to do for everyone or every horse or at that moment. And if the person using the technique has little understanding of it, then it may prove to be inappropriate or counterproductive. What the horse is saying to you should be clearly understood so you can make a better choice. But don't concern yourself with doing the wrong thing. Its never wrong if you get your point across.  I always say, "Confidently show clear intention respefully and you'll get great results."

So the bottom line here explains it all. Techniques are great ways to communicate but we need to go way beyond the technique and build a heightened awareness of everything that is going on. Work to you and your horses strengths and just do the best you can. Nobody can fault you for that.

Thanks for reading along.