I spend a lot of time studying equine psychology, it is not only fascinating, but also essential for my job. Every day, I use what I have learned over the years, and every horse I meet can teach me something new.
Communication with another species can be complex in its simplicity. The horse is such an uncomplicated animal that we adults can find it hard to relate to them. What happens during our life leaves indelible marks in our character. Without us realising, our way of thinking and behaving is shaped by the events that take place in our life. Adults are no longer a blank sheet of paper but a manuscript where we can find scribbles and corrections. The horse can read this paper .Someone says that horses are soul readers, and I this someone is right. However, children, who are basically still blank sheets, can very quickly establish and develop a fantastic relationship even with horses that, at first sight, are nervous or suspicious, because they find this communication channel in a simple and natural way.
With my work I meet horses that I don’t know, and in a short time I need them to be able to trust me. Often, I am asked what I do when I meet a patient for the first time. My answer is: ”I try to make him understand that I am a not a danger and that he can trust me”. The horse is a herd and prey animal, which means it is a sociable animal that has its maximum well-being when it feels protected and in a comfortable situation. The horse is an attentive observer and a very sensitive animal that sense our energies. Here, two tools that I can use in starting to communicate with him come into play: the movement of my body and my inner well-being.
When I first meet a horse, I try to have gentle and slow gestures, and make sure not to stare at him or face him directly. Instead, I give him the time to understand who I am by letting him touch me with the nose (his primary inspection organ), thus using his natural curiosity. At the same time, my movements must be firm, steady, and never uncertain. Hesitating is not an option.
Horses never judge and have no prejudices, in the sense that they don’t care about our body shape or skin colour. To reach harmony with them, we must not judge or have prejudices towards them. For example, if I approach a horse with the presumption that he is going to be problematic, I’m unlikely to be successful.
Regarding the energies, I think it is important and fundamental to keep a low energy level. I need to be relaxed and get rid of any superfluous thoughts. Feelings such as haste, frustration and worry are not acceptable because they affect my heartbeat, hormone release (which the horse perceives) and end up affecting my approach. The more we are in control of our energies and the more we can introduce ourselves in a natural way, the easier it will be to get in tune with the animal.
Finally, I approach a horse acting like I have the whole day dedicated to him. This helps me to stay very relaxed and to give him time to understand and decide if he can trust me.
In my opinion, this is the very first step towards communication between horse and man. From here develops the trust and the bond that can lead the two individuals to friendship, mutual understanding, and well-being. It is necessary to have determination, persistence, and a lot of patience. It requires demanding and difficult inner work but will, in my opinion, lead us to be better people one day. And don’t be afraid to connect with your inner child.
Thank you to Lisa Frigren for letting me use the photo.