We have often wondered why horses do the things they do and 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 and attention and they interact with learning and memory. Emotional stimulation has a great bearing on the association and retention of memories. Emotional elevation over-rides our ability to think, be observant and rational. An elevation in emotion creates stress and anxiety which will lead to consistently tense muscles that can cause aches and sprains because the body can't move properly. When we're faced with an overwhelming sense of worry, stress and anxiety, we release these emotions through friends, family and counselling services to help us feel better through listening and guidance to re-balance our emotions.
Our horses feel the same range of emotions that we do and young horses experience an emotional roller coaster as they're learning to navigate a brand new culture and 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 and 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 walking
A person who has been forced to perform beyond their capabilities or comfort levels at work consistently and have not been appreciated for their efforts, will experience anxiety and 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 and slow down to match the thought processes.
- can't stand still and jigging/circling during leading
A person who is frightened or apprehensive of a situation or object being approached. Although friends may have more confidence and are willing to move forward (a haunted house for example), the person will oscillate between moving forward and retreating. What would happen if they were pushed in before they were ready?
- jigging, refusals, bolting, turning toward and racing home
A person who has endured long-term stress, anxiety and 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 and self-destructive behaviour, such as chewing finger nails, drinking or smoking.
- cribbing, weaving, wind-sucking
People who have developed phobias will over-react when exposed to triggers.
- bolting, explosive behaviour
People who annoy us, drive us crazy and 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 your horse does something unexpected, stop everything and analyze what might be happening. Let go of your habitual thoughts and judgements just for a little while and look at it from a different angle. Question what other people say and do. Question everything you think you know and especially those ideas that you hold as truths and beliefs. By simply taking the time to stop and analyze a situation, instead of reacting, you will begin to notice dramatic changes in how your horse responds to you.
In a culture immersed in concepts and tools as a vital and necessary part of working with horses, it was necessary to create concepts to help shift beliefs toward a new level of understanding. FEARLESS helps you move beyond these concepts and tools into a process of listening, discussions and guidance instead of dictation and micromanagement.
Beginning with in-depth reading of body language, will provide the foundation of understanding what horses are thinking and feeling in every moment. Emotional balancing techniques are vital to shifting current belief systems and understanding the true causes of unwanted behaviour. Through the FEARLESS process, you will be guided in how to have mutual discussions with your horse that allows for choices and opinions to be expressed and 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. Your horse will become the only teacher you'll ever need and eliminate the need to search for external sources as causes and solutions.