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Do You Know the Difference Between Communicating with Your Horse and Controlling Him?

Horse training techniques are as varied as snowflakes. One thing they have in common is the majority of them are meant to gain control of the horse's body and mind.

The thought is that we need the horse to be utterly compliant and focused on us in order to be:

1 Responsive

2 Well-behaved

3 Cooperative

4 Safe

In essence, the goal is to create a relationship where the horse does what we ask, when we ask, without hesitation or complaint.

The horse is exposed to situations where he learns what responses are acceptable and which are not. There is little room for error in the horse's part, because of the theory that giving the horse any leeway at all opens the door to potential resistance or rebellion.

These subservience-based training approaches work. If you were given no choices other than the "right" choice, you would seek the choice that creates the least amount of stress on you. If you did the "wrong" thing and were made to feel uncomfortable, frightened, intimidated, or hurt, you would adopt behaviors that helped you avoid those unpleasant experiences.

That's how the survival instinct works.

The problem is that now you are living in survival mode. Survival mode is meant to get you through threatening situations and last for brief periods of time. It triggers a cascade of physiologic and psychological changes in the body. It is not meant to be prolonged - a way of life. If it becomes chronic, instead of protecting you, or your horse, it does harm.

When we take control, the mind and body resist. That is what is designed to do when it's under threat. Wearing a horse down until it's survival instincts are suppressed, creates a state of helplessness. These horses are often deemed "bombproof" and "easy going."

Survival instincts protect your horse from harm. When your horse represses them, they will not openly express when they are in physical pain. They will comply to avoid punishment and do greater damage to themselves.

They will suffer emotionally. They will lose confidence, trust, curiosity, playfulness, and joy. They will become anxious and/or depressed.

Their bodies will deteriorate over time if they are being compelled to use them in an unhealthy manner. The overflow of stress hormones that are released when a horse lives in survival mode will cause chronic inflammation that damages every system in the body.

This is real. This is happening way too much. This of you who suffer from anxiety, depression, PTSD know how it changes your body, mind, and spirit. It does the same to horses. Their neurology and physiology is more the same than different.

Simply learning how to effectively and successfully communicate with vs control your horse will restore his quality of life. It will reduce damage. It will elevate his spirit. It will create trust, confidence, and joy. It will create a space in which you can enjoy the marvelous experience of life together.

Are you interested in learning more?

Contact me. My passion and over 40 years of experience and education have given me the knowledge, tools, and resources to help you create a healthy collaborative relationship with your horse and help him thrive.


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