"We are always trying to put bandaids on outcomes instead of addressing the input, that create the outcomes" - Tracy Courtney
After many years of using common methods of training horses which were lengthy and not always effective, I realized that there must be a better way. I transitioned into problem solving, where I travelled around for a number of years teaching people how to solve problems. Over time, I found that people didn't continue using the methods shown and the problems would return. I also learned that although I was giving people comprehensive tools to solve individual problems, I would have to return repeatedly because these tools didn't offer simple solutions to other unwanted behaviour. I wasn't giving people lasting solutions to solve multiple problems, which led them to become discouraged and quit trying.
As I was teaching problem solving techniques, I began to realize that the source of the problems weren't due to tack, sights, sounds, movements, other people or the horses themselves, as we have been conditioned to believe. An effect must be preceded by an immediate cause. This realization led me to question everything I was sure I knew about horses, my own thoughts and beliefs.
If I were to ask you in this moment if you can recognize and understand what your horse is thinking and feeling in any given moment, what would your answer be? Many would answer no. If we were to inquire deeper into the root of this question, what might we realize? That the things we have learned and methods we currently use to work with our horses don't include these fundamental understandings. Therefore, our current beliefs hold no value in order to connect to horses at a much deeper level.
We must be willing to step outside of our comfort zones and set aside everything we think we know and believe in, to open a new door of possibilities. We must be willing to shift our normal and comfortable rigid thought processes of assumptions, comparisons and judgements into an open and inquisitive mindset. We must let go of the stories we believe about how things have and should work. These ideas only serve to create confusion and frustration.
Language is only a medium for communicating one's thoughts to another. It is only called in after the thoughts rise - this creates a delay in what's being perceived and our responses to it. It allows for negation or misinterpretation of the original communication. Silence is ever speaking. It is beyond words and thoughts. It is a sophisticated form of communication that is interrupted by speaking. For example, there is electricity flowing through a wire. With resistance to its passage, it glows as a lamp or revolves as a fan. In the wire, it remains as electric energy. What we fail to know by conversation, extending to several years, can be known instantly in silence. This is the highest and most effective language with horses.
In disagreeing with statements, the possibility always exists to come up with a more or less correct answer at the intellectual level, but they are void of actual experience and deep conviction. In these cases, agreeing with this person would only encourage them to believe they have achieved genuine experience, when in fact they are only mechanically repeating a verbal formula. Intellectually they may seem convinced, but in action, they are unable to perform. Intellectual knowledge is of little value because it will always break down under stress. Experienced knowledge is understood at a much deeper level and remains constant. Intellectual knowledge and verbiage will always limit deeper states of understanding.
Common methods of training work as a start-stop process, in an active and reactive concept. We tell our horse to do something, expect compliance and them to do something else. We create a plan of action that we would like to achieve, but horses don't function smoothly with this dictative and non-flowing model of thinking. They become confused because they don't normally think this way. Their thought processes move in a flowing pattern of continuous melding, one into the next. They have to learn to adopt this type of thinking/movement through gradual and patient understanding.
By focusing on reading body language and what it represents, this frees the mind of other thoughts and transforms the mind's habit of statements into open inquisitiveness with practice. What's being learned and understood through the horse's communication creates interest in the process to continue understanding. My intentions aren't to make any statements about good or bad, right or wrong, but to encourage you to look deeper into your habits and belief systems.
The ultimate goal is to redirect the thoughts before they become a physical action. During demos, I must allow the behaviours to be seen to facilitate the premise. Why is FEARLESS so difficult for some? Because it's the opposite of everything you've been taught. It forces you to see horses through a whole new set of eyes. It's time for the next step in how we see and work with horses.