Following horse protocol
The bond between horses and humans is usually is not as strong as the bond that horses share with each other. Clearly there are multiple reasons for there are ways to try and bridge these gaps. Either the horse must be domesticated to our ways or we must follow a horse's protocol and cultural laws. Their protocols are about creating well-being, responsibility, teamwork and unification between the herd and the leader. The natural result of these cultural laws is the creation of lasting bonds, harmony, order and a one-minded connection. We are drawn to horses like bees to honey and we know it has something to do with their spirit but in essence it is all these outcomes that we seek. So the key then is to follow their protocol and culture and we must therefore start by drawing the horse to us to bond like they have drawn us to them and then a true connection can formed. This requires us to wait for a horse to be attracted without any influence other than our presence in his territory. In other words, the first Waterhole Ritual. This exercise creates a true bond from the natural, extemporaneous interplay between the two of you. It is a great way also to socialize horses to feel good about their relationship with all humans. In the process, your horse learns how to be polite and respectful and accept direction through an inviting process that brings more life experience to him.
What I have witnessed though is that generally the horse and human bond is based on the horse knowing he hasn't any choice in the matter. He will then falsely bond with a human because it feels better for him to do so when there are often no horses around that he can connect with. The use of a formula by the human in this situation, does not allow for the spontaneous exchanges between horse and human that are so valuable.
However, do not make the mistake of thinking you should become your horse's best friend. Being a friend to a horse and taking no leadership position offers him no security and boredom will soon set in once the initial bond is formed. When we are attempting to adopt the rules of horse society, we must look to their protocols not our own. It is our job to shape the dominant nature of our horse to be social and polite. We do not need to necessarily change his dominant nature, we just need to bond and offer leadership when he or she wants it. In the wild, when a lead horse that has been chosen, he allows the follower to control and shapes his leadership behavior. When a lead horse is respectful, the follower feels honored and in control, which brings the follower to feel loyalty, responsibility and trust. Both parties shape the other as a way to getting to know one another and this creates a true working partnership. Horses need to work out the social order to develop deep friendships and horses need freedom of choice in social interactions.
Instead of developing the bond to be able to train a horse, you are using the training to deepen the bond rather than being interested in the horse's performance. The horse directs your leadership and you offer the program. This kind of leadership is comforting and nurturing to a horses. When a horse does not get to live in a harmonious herd environment, he needs us to provide the socialization and leadership for his emotional well-being. In developing a method for horses we need to allow the horse the ability to figure out how to work within our system when called to participate without being pressured.
Coming back to the first Ritual then, when we avoid the temptation to approach him and wait for him to come to us, it will develop his desire to learn how to fit in with us. Allowing a horse to become interested builds his self esteem and increases his ability to partner with us with a willing heart.
Before I go, I'd like to show you an excerpt from an email I received from one of my students, Carol, which fits in beautifully with today's topic. Carol wrote:
I've spent so much more time just being with both my horses since beginning my journey with you. I'm now keenly aware that I need to move away if my presence is not welcome at any particular time. I don't force anything to happen. I am content to wait for a response, and if I am unsuccessful, I feel comfortable changing how I ask. Both your Method and blog give me creative ideas to keep my horses motivated, and more importantly, they give me reassurance when I hit the speed bumps that inevitable while training them. The bond I have with both my horses has strengthened tremendously in the past year and I am learning how to fit more comfortably in a horse's world.
I thought too her pictures really capture the essence and energy of relationship and bonding with a horse. What do you think?
Enjoy your weekend!