As horse owners I believe we all love our horses. I know I do. We also think our horses love us right back and have a laugh at some things that they do, like run away when it’s riding time. I wanted to write this blog as after speaking with so many amazing and conscious horse trainers I really started asking myself some tough questions.
There are things here that I had not considered until I heard them spoken by these trainers. Some of them blew my mind open. I most certainly have changed my perspective on the impact I have on my horses now, in every single thing that I do with them.
The quotes here are from the podcast interviews, I will ink to the interviews at the bottom of the blog so you too can share in the wisdom of these amazing horse people.
Anna Blake – Relaxed and Forward Blog “My favourite thing about dressage is old horses. It gives them suppleness and that adds up to longevity. And since we’re humans and it’s going to take us forever to figure out how to ride horses, it would be good if they lived a long time and gave us a chance to get it right.”
Some people think they have horses all figured out. The wise words from Anna Blake are the ones I live by. I believe we are all still learning, every day about how we work with horses. If you look at the surge of people now giving horses choice, then you may agree that we are just scratching the surface of our true relationships with horses and the collaboration we are here to have with them.
Andrea Datz – Integrative Horsemanship “What Jim (her horse) started and all of the horses that I have here keep perpetuating is this thing of saying, you know, dig deeper and find what is it in you that inspires us to want to follow you and be with you. That inspires us to, to follow your lead without the need for any kind of coercion or bribery”
Have you ever asked yourself this question? I hadn’t until Andrea posed it to me.
Donna Anderson – One Horse Life Australia and New Zealand “It’s about knowing me, calmness, knowing me and dropping all my tensions and my excitement and my nerves and knowing who I am, and then the passion can come through. Once you start to unblock all the things that are holding you back, you’re free to be who you want to be with your horse.”
Did you know that your horse will always pick up and respond to the emotions going on inside of you? And if they do not, then have you considered that they may be a little shut down for some reason? It’s a challenging thing to hear. But the truth is that horses are herd animals and they respond to the energy of the herd, every single time.
Tanya Bevilacqua – Mindfully Mounted and Fit, knows for sure how much influence we have on horses, but she also asks us to consider this misconception that lot of us have. I used to have this misconception, I wonder if you did too?
“Another misconception people have is because they’re a horse, they automatically know how to move. They automatically know how to stay upright and in balance and they’re in one with nature. That is only the case with anybody, whether it’s an animal or person, in my opinion, when it’s aligned and working the way it was designed, if that’s not happening, you’ve got a nervous system that’s not working properly. They can go around the same way, not being conscious about what they’re doing. They’re just trying to stay upright and not hurt.
As horse riders we need to build not only our horse is strength and balance as an individual. We then need to build our own strength and balance as an individual. And then we need to build both our horses and our own strength and balance to support and flow with each other once we are in the saddle.
And why do we do this? Andrea Datz from Integrative Horsemanship says it so beautifully. “When we sit on a horse’s back, we’re sitting right over their center of gravity. We have an enormous amount of power when we sit over their center of gravity. We can think that we have a horse’s cooperation, or that the horses responding willingly. So when I see people riding bareback and bridle less and they’re saying, oh, this was great because the horse has a choice. They have a voice because there’s no bridal, there’s no saddle. Yeah, but you’re still sitting over their center of gravity. You have an enormous amount of influence when you sit on them and work over their center of gravity. I think it takes an enormous amount of consciousness to be able to ride a horse with or without tack and not take their voice away. So I think it’s really important that we learn from the ground how to become captivating and interesting and have horses who are following us willingly so we know what that feels like and what it looks like before we climb on their back. And then of course in my opinion, we shouldn’t be getting on unless we’re invited.”
It really gets you thinking, doesn’t it?
Angela Davison – The Horse Herbalist does hair testing for horses. When she does this test, she accesses the higher self of the horse. She talks here about if the horse is carrying issues from the owner or rider.
“Maybe this horse’s problem, isn’t all the horse’s problem? Perhaps it’s the riders, the riders rated pretty average or poorly (in the horse’s opinion), that’s when I extrapolate out and see if the horse finds the rider calm, clear and consistent. And if they don’t, well then when we have our phone consultation, we need to talk about that and see where the riders up to. I’m trying to make things easier for everyone. So they’ve got healthier happier Horses.”
Callie King from CRK training and she speaks here of how a minor adjustment changed her horse’s canter almost immediately. Callie’s trainer works with the Feldenkraus method, so she’s able to see in Callie the tiny postural changes that need to be made to change the horse’s movement considerably.
“It’ll just be the smallest, smallest little shifts. Like for example, one of the lessons that I had with her, she was working with me on having me get a little bit wider in my rib cage and using the idea of thinking about kind of pulling my shirt slightly forward in order to find that. And just that little tiny movement, I mean it was probably an eighth of an inch actual movement in my ribcage, my horse’s canter was very noticeably lighter and different than five minutes before when we were going around. So even the tiniest things can have a huge change.”
There’s an ongoing conversation about tack in the Horse World and how it affects the horse. I really love what Andrea Datz has to say about this.
“So any connection I have, if the horse has a bit in his mouth and I have my hands on the reigns, that connection is there only for me to feel where he’s at in his balance. And then any change I make is happening in my own body to support him. So it’s been this amazing experience of feeling that it’s almost like they’re floating above the bit when everything is in balance.”
Andrea also goes to another level with how we affect our horses. Have you considered your horse’s body language as a clear indication of their emotional state before?
“Helping them (her human student) understand that anything their horse does is simply feedback about what the horse thought you said or how the horse felt about what you said or how the horse is feeling and they’re trying to tell you how they feel. So a lot of work with body language based, and movement based communication.”
Mel Fleming from Connecting with Horses and Riding with Synchronicity has a lot to say on the depth of the horse and the physical response they have on an emotional state of both horse and rider.
“So now we talk about the body. Getting the body right. A lot of times back to deeper emotional issues in the horse. Which is one of the reasons why horses have those body issues. So when the horse has got anxiety, fear or any sort of stress, if the horse is holding anger or resentment, all of those emotional issues are very commonly the cause of the issues in the body. It takes us back to that deeper emotional and spiritual level. And then the other aspect which adds to it all that a lot of the times, those emotions that the horses have, they’re mirroring the people around them. They are mirroring the person’s emotional state, showing their grief or depression. It just takes us to a whole different level of looking at behaviour in horses and horsemanship.”
They really is so much to consider and there’s so much depth in us, and there’s so much depth in our horses. But the really great thing about this type of work with horses is that if we continue to grow and we continue to dig deep, we too can have the type of moment that Kim Walnes from The Way of the Horse had with her champion horse The Gray Goose.
“I lit out of there like a house on fire. And Gray was thrilled because I wasn’t trying to slow him down anywhere. We just ran like the cowboys were after us and it was so exhilarating! Every jump came up and flowed. We were in that zone where we’re just one being working towards the same thing and the horses were coming in tired and exhausted and Gray just flew through the finish flags as fast as he did when he left. He was amazing.”
Working together as one being, it sounds pretty fantastic, doesn’t it?
One thing left to consider is the words of the wonderful Mosie Trewhitt from Liberty Horsemansip
“I feel like I’m very much inner transitional place right now where I’m starting to learn and change even more. And I’m really excited the shift is still happening and it’s still deepening and I think it’s exciting place to be wherever you are with your horsemanship journey, to know that it’s always going to be changing and it’s always going to be deepening and that’s kind of the beauty of it.”
I hope you found this article informative and if you want to join other conscious horse lovers please join my amazing Facebook Group: Eden River Equestrian Group.
Here are the full podcast episodes for each trainer mentioned above.
Tracy is a Conscious Horse Person, Entrepreneur, Podcaster, Blogger, Holistic Counsellor. A Grower of Organic Food and a builder of Community. She explores many topics about being conscious in the horse world, conscious about both horses and the environment.