PO Box 234
Danboro, PA 18916
The art of communication is a valuable skill. It is relatively easy to talk with someone who speaks the same language as you. It is much more difficult to understand Cherokee or sign language. How would you describe a sunrise to someone who has been blind since birth? No matter what the barrier, it is possible to find some way to communicate and sometimes that is by trial and error ... with patience and persistence.
Horses know how to do everything that is possible for them to do from the day that they are born. It is the rider who has the deficiency in communicating requests. Horses do not need to be taught how to stop, turn, or spin around in a circle. Riders must be taught how to communicate requests to their horses in an understandable way. (p.26)
You and your horse must develop a language with one another. A more subtle language than the spoken word -- a tap of the heel, a weight shift, a tensed-up right thigh, less pressure on the left rein. Consistent cues teach your horse to recognize each command and elicit the desired action.
My goal is to develop harmony and clear communication with every horse that I work with. I break down exercises into many small, clear steps, and always ask the horse the same way (persistent and consistent) and make the answer obvious. And, of course, always providing a place to go and a way out because horses are afraid of being trapped and often explode if they feel that they have no other option.
A horse is a horse. Rather than work within a human behavioral framework, use the relationship, language, and boundaries a horse understands best - the herd. (p.39)
Riding should be fun and relaxing for both the horse and rider. When communication is lacking, frustration increases for both horse and rider. Take a step back. Make your indications smaller and slower. Return to something that you are both comfortable doing. Remember that you are learning to communicate with one another. The horse must learn your language and you must learn your horse's language. Take your time and have fun.