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BONUS: Relationship Before Horsemanship Podcast

BONUS: Relationship Before Horsemanship

The podcast on Relationship Before Horsemanship is full of great information if you have an hour, we highly recommend listening to it. 

If you don’t have the time to listen, then here is another way to think about it – the Emotional Bank Account. 

In human relationships, John & Julie Gottman are leaders in the field of human relationships.  They can tell just by watching a 5 minute video of a couple interacting within an 85% accuracy, whether the couple will be divorced in 5 years (or something like that – you get that they know what they are talking about). 

They explain that one of the main things they use to come up with that prediction is observing what they call “Bids For Connection”. A bid for connection is an attempt  at, or an offer to, connect with the other person. There are ways that you can respond to those bids.  The Gottmans use the terms Turning Toward, Turning Away, or Turning  Against. 

An example might be a couple outside together and the man says “Boy it’s a beautiful day today”. 

That is a bid for connection.

If his partner turned to him and said “Yes, what a lovely day”, that would be Turning Towards, or in other words, an acceptance of that small bid for connection.

If his his partner kind of grunted and shrugged her shoulders in response to his bid, that would be Turning Away, or a rejection of his bid for connection.

If his partner said “Don’t be stupid, that breeze is kinds chilly (or there’s too many flies, or it’s too hot), that is a Turning Against, and a direct sabotage of his bid for connection. According to the Gottmans, this is the relationship killer. They say there needs to be 10 Turning Towards to make up for every incident of  Turning Against, to repair the damage caused.

Essentially, when you turn toward your partner’s bids for connection, you are making a deposit in the Emotional Bank Account.  When. you turn away from your partner, you are making a withdrawal.  When you turn against, we can only assume that the withdrawal is larger.  Just like a real bank account, you would like to have a healthy balance and not a zero or negative balance.  The Emotional Bank Account grows when partners make more deposits than withdrawals. 

The Gottmans explain when the Emotional Bank Account is overdrawn, partners tend to question each other’s intentions and feel disconnected or even lonely.

When the Emotional Bank Account has a positive balance, partners tend to give each other the benefit of the doubt during conflict.  They keep their relationship in the positive perspective. 

We also have an Emotional Bank Account with our horse partner.  Those who end up practicing this Attuned Horsemanship sometimes end up questioning whether or not we should be riding horses, and the Emotional Bank Account ends up being a great mental tool to use with yourself if you ever start questioning something to do with your horse. 

Are you making more deposits than withdrawals?  Are you never Turning Against? Are you considering your horse as part of this relationship vs. just a tool?  These are the things to consider. 

Go out and do whatever you have been doing with your horse today.

A reminder how to use this course: click on Mark Complete below and you will go on to Day 3 tomorrow.

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Loved this podcast and have listened to it 3 times so far and know I will be referring back to it often.

I have one ? – could you clarify when appropriate and when not appropriate to use CAT-H theory technique?


Warwick Schiller avatar Warwick Schiller (Administrator) November 30, 2023 at 5:40 am

After youve acknowledged the no a few times

The text has just made myself clear, that I need to invest more in the “bank account” of me and my girlfriend.
And also understand several of her actions as “bids for connection”.
Many thanks for that :)

Funny, how different we sometimes behave when interacting with horses and with humans/partners/friends/family.

I love this podcast – and my whole approach to working with horses is evolving based on your podcasts, reading books by several of your guests-

“Similar to ‘connection before horsemanship’, scientific research (including from the University of Liverpool) has shown that the relationship between the practitioner and client is more determinative for the outcome of the treatment than the choice of the type of treatment itself.”

Warwick Schiller avatar Warwick Schiller (Administrator) January 5, 2024 at 2:23 pm


I am so glad to hear you speak of Carolyn Resnick, the waterhole ritual was my first training on develop a relationship with my horse. I think your work really piggy-backs nicely with her methods! I love everything you are teaching – on day 2!!

I have found this section so interesting, especially the part about staying the other side of the fence or gate to start to form a relationship. I started to do this automatically a short while back, before starting this course, with my very young Clydesdale yearling gelding. I did it because I felt overwhelmed by a 16.1hh bouncy youngster who was forever in my space! I was starting to get nervous of him. He played bitey games too. I have to say it has worked brilliantly. Not only has staying outside the fence to “chat” with him meant that I am so much more relaxed – and in turn of course, so is he, which brings down his bouncy energy level immediately – but I’ve also been able to do a little of the James French Trust Technique with him too. Again along the lines of building a relationship before horsemanship, which is something I’ve believed in for some years. Now we are at the stage of my being able to go into the horses’ loafing yard with him without worry that I am going to get pushed over or asked to play young horse games with him. I’ve also used your “muzzle technique” for his bitey games, and they’ve stopped completely as if by magic! I had tried turning his head away from me, telling him off, or even stepping back and walking away, but nothing worked until I saw your video on this and started handling his muzzle when he tried to do this. Nowadays I am one step ahead, trying to open more to his communications, so that he doesn’t have to “shout” at me! He is still a baby, coming up to 2 years old, but our relationship is really starting to form, and I am so delighted to have found this course. Thank you! Now I just need to get him to walk next to me at my pace, which is a bit slower as I have much shorter legs than he does 🤣

Warwick Schiller avatar Warwick Schiller (Administrator) April 5, 2024 at 10:34 am

Great work.

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