The Mental State of the Rider/Handler

This is a natural lead-in after the previous post. After all, if we are discussing the ability to communicate we need to understand that communication best happens once that we are calm and relaxed.

The mental state of the rider/handler is one of the greatest determining factors in the relationship of the horse. You, with an understanding of equine communication, can accomplish a great deal of progress in a relatively short period of time. This can happen in the saddle or on the ground.

The overall concept that needs to be understood is that the rider or the handler needs to be in total control through the projection of both confidence and trust. For once that you have developed the initial trust between you and the horse, the horse will continually turn to you for guidance and reassurance in uncertain times. It is at this point that the horse will start to turn to you and allow you to guide them to the next level. Confidence will develop and build within you as you start to change your outlook and method of operating around and on top of your horse. With the understanding of the communication method that the horse uses, will come the confidence, and with confidence, trust will start to build and grow. This will then change the mood on and around the horse to be one of calm that will allow the horse to realize that you are no longer something to be constantly watched and analyzed. You are now a friend that has allowed friendship and confidence to build and trust will then follow.

Here is where we need to stress the consistency and confidence of the handler that will allow the horse to become consistent and confident as they progress through the process of building a relationship. If you are confident and consistent then the horse will be the same. They are looking for the right path to follow and they do want to please you. It is in their nature to want to please and be a member of the herd. If you are confident and consistent, the path to obtaining the necessary trust will be shorter and the relationship with the animal will be built upon a stronger foundation. Once that the foundation is put down and is solid, the building of the relationship will be stronger, more level, and will lead to a life-long friendship. There are no leaders in this relationship, only members of the herd having specific jobs to perform. Everyone pulls their own weight and does the tasks that are required of their earned position within that herd.

Introduction of any new horse (or acceptance of another human being) into a predetermined group of horses and people will start the process all over again; there will be a jockeying of positions and responsibilities of herd members. This can be from the new horse or human being higher or lower in the overall picture of the herd. Don’t forget that there will be an adjustment period any time that a new horse or person is added to the herd. You must remember that the herd social structure has to follow the required ritual steps that are carved in stone and do not waiver. Here is why consistency has to be always foremost and present when dealing with any member of the herd. Consistency breeds confidence due to an unwavering method of accomplishment. This refers to the horse’s inability to accept change readily and that when change is introduced too quickly they usually react with a “flight” instinct and look for the easiest way out of the situation. We have the ability to prejudge a situation, its outcome, and the reaction that will most likely be received, so it is in our best interest to use that ability each and every chance that we get.

What are your thoughts?......

Until next time, “Ride for the Brand”.


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