FEELING A NEW WAY
Billy arrived in my yard as a very angry, shutdown horse with a history of taking off with his riders and being notoriously difficult to catch but when I first saw him my heart melted.
It may be corny, but a turning point for us was when I watched The Horse Whisperer and something clicked and with tears streaming down my cheeks, I walked into his stable late that evening and said “you don’t ever have to be afraid with me”. For the first time, Billy relaxed and put his head on my shoulder and sighed.
The bond between us deepened and he was as much my teacher, as I was his. He learnt to trust and I gained my confidence not only as a rider but in my non-verbal communication with him. Just as I acknowledged his fear, with my empathy that evening, I started to show him in my mind’s eye, much of what I needed him to do and gave a feeling with it. Billy always responded positively.
Horses, just the same as most animals will choose to create happiness within a relationship, so if you give the feeling of happiness with one choice and an “cross/angry” feeling with another, then you can be fairly certain which choice they will make.
As I mentioned earlier, Billy was difficult when it came to be being caught and I needed to bring him in mid-afternoon because he had a date with the farrier. So picture the scene, me with head collar in hand and a dark bay with absolutely no intention of making it easy!
So I said “let’s play”, he watched and trotted in a circle and I followed. After 10 minutes, I stopped and said “OK we have had 10 minutes of play and the farrier is arriving soon but I promise you can come back out in the field” I said this, but as I spoke, I clearly visualised the farrier with a happy feeling and me leading Billy back to the field with a happy feeling and slipping off his head collar.
I stood quietly just in that space of happiness and Billy stopped, faced me and walked towards me. Then in he put his head down so I could slip his head collar on and side by side we left the field. I kept my promise and walked him back to join his friends, albeit it was only for 20 minutes but that was unimportant. I was gaining his trust and that was our bargain.
Emotions have energy, which empathetic people can feel and animals as well and effective animal communication is about sharing the feelings. It would be easy to say that this was just a coincidence, unless you had witnessed the events but I am sharing this as visualising an action with an emotion is a very simple way of communicating with your horse or indeed any pet and just see what happens.