What Does Connection Look Like?
The following is a question I was asked that really got me thinking. “I am wondering if I truly understand the term ‘connection’ with my horse? As opposed to me asking him what I want him to do and then demanding it when he does not do it, what does connection look like?”
Connection definitely looks different to the above. First and foremost, it is a feeling. When you are connected with your horse it is the same for both of you, not just one, and there is no other feeling like it. It is the foundation from which all else comes. Without connection you will need to demand things from your horse, against their will. This is the master slave relationship. Connection is when the horse and human co-exist in the same personal space bubble, with their energies completely at ease with each other. The horse trusts you, and you trust the horse. There is no fear or forcing for either party. It is harmony.
The best way to develop connection with a horse is to spend quality time with them without an agenda. I spend a lot of just being with horses and doing nothing. If you spend time with your horse with no agenda, it changes everything. They start relaxing around you, then they seek you. Many people never do this. Imagine you had a friend and every time you saw them, they wanted you to do a job for them. After a while you would get tired of visiting them. But if sometimes when you visited you relaxed together with a few drinks, chatting, and sharing how you are feeling, then on those times when they did ask you to do a job for them you would be more than willing to help your friend. It is the same for horses.
When I approach a horse, I empty my mind of all knowledge. I do not allow myself to be the expert, I trust and follow my intuition. In this way I am 100% open to communication from the horse. When someone listens to a horse, it changes everything for them. They will give you their heart and soul. It is all about a partnership, about treating the horse with the same level of respect you would give to another human. I never do anything, no training or riding, without first connecting with the horse. From a state of connection, I can then lightly ask the horse and they can lightly respond. At times training is not even necessary once the connection is there.
When I am doing ground exercises or riding, I try to not let it become work. If the horse is not enjoying what we are doing, I stop and see if an idea for a change pops into my head, it usually does. I tune in to how the horse feels, and if they do not feel right, I do not continue. They have off days just like us, I listen to this. Then on the days when they do feel good, they will give me everything.
It is never too late to change how we are with horses. They change when we change. They let go of everything we did in the past, forgive us all our mistakes, and embrace this new kind path we walk with them effortlessly. Their ability to let go is amazing. Horses who have had rough treatment may take longer to be able to trust. But they too can let go of past negative experiences if we have patience and respect in all we do with them.
To be with your horse in this way requires acceptance. Acceptance of how things are right now in the moment. To let go of your agenda and plans if they are not right on that day. To see your horse for who they really are, with all their beauty, strengths and weaknesses. And to be there for them as a friend.
Suzy Maloney BEqSc
Happy Horses Bitless
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