I want to discuss the ability of the horse to communicate; since it is a very basic and important part of being able to work with a horse. If you learn to relate effectively with a horse it greatly reduces the stress factor on both sides.
Communication is just as important to horses as it is to humans. Horses have a desire to be able to communicate; there is also a need to fulfill that desire since it will fill a void within their lives that is also common to mankind.
Once that you do realize that there is an avenue of communication that can be established between you and the horse you will then start to realize that the horse has the capacity of having a thought pattern. Next you will start to move from a one-sided conversation thought pattern to one that will allow interaction from both sides and a relationship will start to develop.
Being able to understand that there are structured thought patterns that can be developed by a horse and that they are also capable of communicating with you; it will be realized that the method of communication is quite simple and easy to understand.
To properly understand how a horse communicates you have to be willing to accept that the horse does not have the ability to reason, in plain terms, they can not figure out that there is more than one way to do the same thing. All that they do understand is that they have a specific method or way of accomplishing a task and that is the only way that it can be done. This is the precise point that explains why you cannot deviate in any manner when you ask the horse to accomplish any task. Horses are extremely structured in their society and following that specific pattern, step-by-step, calm them and allow them to understand what is happening.
Our ability of being able to understand that there are many different ways to accomplish the same end result, thus being able to change as well as adapt has allowed us to expand and grow our mental ability. Our ability to reason has placed us in a situation that we take this ability for granted; for since it is second nature and happening without thought we then feel that other creatures that we come in contact with can accomplish the same results. In fact the exact opposite is the truth; this is one of the unique features of our species that has placed us above the others. For it is our ability to reason along with our memory that does allow us to realize that we can file away and categorize past experiences then being able to refer back to specific memories for use at another time.
Although the horse does have a memory, it is somewhat limited in relationship to our own. It has been my experience that the memory of the horse does not include the ability to file experiences away and then be able to pull upon that experience for reference at a future date. What the horse does have is a memory that notes experiences, but without the use of any time line, that is to say that there is no distinction as to how many times an experience was good and how many times that same situation was bad. It remembers the initial experience as either good or bad, therefore every time that the horse is put into that situation where that memory is called upon; it is either good or bad.
I have found that bad experiences can be altered and have the horse start to respond in a favorable fashion. This depends on how the foundation was laid and all experiences from that point on were built upon either a good or bad foundation. In order to make changes in a horse’s response to a particular situation you need to tear down what has been built and rebuild the foundation making it a good experience. This goes back to the fact that the horse feels that there is only one way to accomplish what you are asking them to do. So it is better to start out understanding how the mind of the horse does operate before you get started.
It is now becoming known that the human mind goes through various stages of development and when these stages of development happen there is a great surge in the learning ability, the creativity and overall development of individual skills. I believe that horses go through various stages during their development that will allow them to be able to increase their ability to comprehend, learn and develop their motor skills as well. It is our responsibility to watch for and make full advantage of these various stages of development that the horse goes through.
Until next time, “Ride for the Brand”.