I learned a long time ago that knowing something in principle and actually being able to translate that knowledge into action were not one and the same! This has been especially true with regards to the Art of Horsemanship. Reading back over my blog I would wish that I could apply all that I learned in those first weeks with Pip…I knew what I should be doing but I didn’t seem able to bring it all together…. Time has passed, Pip and her horses have been patient and at last I am making progress with my close work. I am finally picking up on the signals that the horses are giving me! Being able to discern at least some of what a horse is saying to me has boosted my confidence enormously.
When I consider that I am someone learning a new language and at the moment I am only understanding a small part of the conversation, and see how rewarding that already is, I am filled with excitement at what is possible.
As you might expect my new found confidence means that the horses are responding to me far more positively as well. After all, when we lack confidence we create anxiety in our horses….they need to know they can trust us and how can they if we don’t even trust ourselves?
Yesterday I was able to enter each horse's stable and ask them, with just body language and energy, to stand and wait in a place of my choosing whilst I scooped the poop. This may not sound like much but when you consider that at Pippsway we never close a stable door when we are in the stable and so the horse could easily move or leave at any moment it is quite a thing!! Before I came to Pippsway the only time I saw stable doors open was when they were blocked with a wheelbarrow!
When I got to Bronson’s stable it looked like he’d been having a party so I was in there for quite a while and had to ask him to move to a different spot several times whilst I cleared each area….each time I made sure he stayed where I had asked him to stand until I asked him to move again. Initially he went to move towards the door but once I showed him that I would not accept even a step away from where I had asked him to stand, he relaxed and waited patiently whilst I went about my work.
Learning to work with horses in this way is so very different and far more rewarding. It is a conversation and there is understanding on both sides. The horses are so much calmer and far more cooperative when they feel understood! Being able to achieve compliance with leadership, energy and body language instead of headcollars and doors feels amazing! Before I met Pip I didn’t even know it was possible…..
I knew when I met Pip that I had found what I was looking for and early on I knew this was going to be a completely different way of working with horses. What I couldn’t have known then was what joy it would bring me to communicate with horses in ways they understand and to be able to understand what they are saying to me. Being in a conversation with my horse from the moment I am in his presence to the moment we part seemed like a huge demand at first….now it seems odd that anyone would do anything else?