After years and years of helping people in person and through the videos, the biggest disconnect in what they are trying to achieve and what they are actually getting accomplished has to do with the human’s ability to be congruent.
Horses are continually reading our behavior, energy and intentions through our body language and psyches. They can read layers of feeling that we are not even aware of.
Horses are congruent, meaning that the inside feelings and intentions match the outside expressions and behaviors. The response is authentic because there are no hidden motives.
We are often incongruent, feeling one way and acting a different way, our bodies and behaviors mirroring our habits and unconscious thought patterns, which are felt by our horses. They often reflect those unexpressed, contradictory emotions back to us.
The most common incongruence on the ground that I see is someone, who, at their very core, is afraid of their horse at some level. Totally understandable when dealing with a large farm animal that outweighs us by around 10x. When they ask their horse to do something, those fearful thoughts and feelings (sometimes unconscious and sometimes not) cause their physical body to be asking for something in a way that they don’t believe it will happen or in a way that they don’t want it to happen.
For example, in the exercise that I call Focus & Bend, there is a time to step backwards, but it is at the end of the exercise and we use it to draw the horse in. The beginning of the exercise relies on stepping forward towards the horse. It is here that I see many people stepping out of their horse’s way instead of having the horse yield out of the human’s way, while asking the horse to yield.
Another example is going forward. Let’s say cantering. The rider is doing the things that should get the horse to canter, but the horse also feels the fear or apprehension the person has about actually cantering.
This incongruence ends up being very confusing to the horse. It can also feel very unsafe to the horse – because in their herd – congruence is what keeps the herd safe. Incongruence can get them killed. The result can be that a horse will either end up being overly anxious or shut down (which appear as many different behaviors from bucking, bolting, kicking, jigging, etc.)
Don’t worry – we will give you the tools you need to become more congruent, or at least more regulated in your nervous system.
A reminder how to use this course: click on Mark Complete below and you will be taken to the next topic.