We have often wondered why horses do the things they do & the answers may be closer than we thought. Our choices are governed by our emotions to a larger degree than we realize. Emotions strongly effect learning, they are intertwined with perception & attention & they interact with learning & memory. Emotional stimulation has a great bearing on the association & retention of memories. Emotional elevation over-rides our ability to think, be observant & rational. An elevation in emotion creates stress & anxiety which will lead to consistently tense muscles that can cause aches & sprains because the body can't move properly. When we're faced with an overwhelming sense of worry, stress & anxiety, we release these emotions through friends, family & counselling services to help us feel better through listening & guidance to re-balance our emotions.
Our horses feel the same range of emotions that we do & young horses experience an emotional roller coaster as they're learning to navigate a brand new culture & language in our human herds, which is vastly different from equine herd life. If we were to analyze how our daily lives are governed by our emotions, we can all recall instances where unbalanced emotions caused us to become clumsy, injure ourselves, drive past our house or forget an important event. Examining some of the effects of unbalanced mental & emotional processes in humans can lead to some interesting correlations;
A person who is feeling overwhelmed by an important, potentially life-altering decision or has been uprooted from the only existence they've ever known may pace the floor when alone.
- stall/fence walking
A person who has been forced to perform beyond their capabilities or comfort levels at work consistently & have not been appreciated for their efforts, will experience anxiety & want to quit their job.
- avoidance, balking, laziness
An upset/angry person walking down the street will not walk with a consistent speed, pace or cadence. Physically, their movements will follow the flow of their thoughts. As they focus more and less on recalling the situation, their movements will speed up & slow down to match the thought processes.
- can't stand still & jigging/circling during leading
A person who is frightened or apprehensive of a situation or object being approached. Although friends may have more confidence & are willing to move forward (a haunted house for example), the person will oscillate between moving forward & retreating. What would happen if they were pushed in before they were ready?
- jigging, refusals, bolting, turning toward & racing home
A person who has endured long-term stress, anxiety & oppression in an abusive environment but has learned to bottle it up or has shut down, will always display subtle physical indicators. Some of these are consistently scratching or touching a particular body part, chewing on the lip/corner of mouth or repeated movements of some type.
- playing with the bit, scratching the cannon or other body parts repeatedly
Some people in long-term abusive environments will develop addictive & self-destructive behaviour, such as chewing finger nails, drinking or smoking.
- cribbing, weaving, wind-sucking, repeatedly biting body parts
People who have developed phobias will over-react when exposed to triggers.
- bolting, explosive behaviour
People who annoy us, drive us crazy & know which buttons to push, that we're forced to continue to associate with, will elicit thoughts of violence such as punching, kicking or worse.
- biting, kicking, striking, charging
A narcissistic spouse who micromanages, controls, dictates, makes all decisions, doesn't allow discussions, choices, opinions or consideration of feelings. How would you feel in this situation?
- fresh, avoidance, aggression, explosive, uncooperative, PTSD, and many more
I encourage you to question everything. When our horse does something unexpected, stop everything & analyze what might be happening. Let go of our habitual thoughts & judgements just for a little while & look at it from a different angle. Question everything other people say & do. Question everything we think we know & especially those ideas that we hold as truths & beliefs. By simply taking the time to stop & analyze a situation, instead of reacting, we will begin to notice dramatic changes in how our horse responds to us.
In a culture immersed in concepts & tools as a vital & necessary part of working with horses, it was necessary to create concepts to help shift beliefs toward a new level of understanding. FEARLESS helps to move beyond these traditional concepts & tools into a process of listening, discussions & guidance instead of dictation & micromanagement.
Beginning with in-depth reading of body language, will provide the foundation of understanding what horses are thinking & feeling in every moment. Emotional balancing techniques are vital to shifting current belief systems & understanding the true causes of unwanted behaviour. Through the FEARLESS process, we are guided in how to have mutual discussions with our horse that allows for choices & opinions to be expressed & current emotional baggage to be released. This doesn't only provide the key to the inner workings of the equine mind, it removes the door completely. Our horse will become the only teacher we'll ever need & eliminate the need to search for external sources as causes & solutions.