As riders, communication is key to developing a strong and trustworthy relationship with your horse. Communication is the connection between two or more people or animals. Horses have two main ways of communicating with their riders: vocal sounds and body language. Horses use communication to tell us how they are feeling. They communicate to us if they are angry, annoyed, happy, or even relaxed. The amazing thing about horses is that they are professionals at communicating. When they were young, they had to communicate to their mothers to tell them they were hungry, horses that live in the wild communicate with the herd to notify other horses of danger or prey, horses have the ability to communicate in small and even large ways and they can communicate by moving their ears or even by responding in flight.
Communication is key in knowing how to understand our horses and their unique “horseonalities”. We have to learn to be able to understand how our horses to communicate to better understand how to communicate with them. When I was working with a horse I ride, Kahari, I had to learn how to better communicate with her to have a successful training session. I was lunging Kahari that day and she wasn’t exactly responding to what I was asking her to do. That was mostly my fault. When I lunge Kahari sometimes she will swing her back end around and face the center. While she is doing this, she will start to get annoyed with me by pinning her ears. Even if we are trotting or cantering, she will continue to do it. It definitely makes a lunging session much more challenging when she is stopping because I want her to move forward. What I realized that day after I asked for some guidance from my trainer was that Kahari needed to know I was the boss. To efficiently communicate with Kahari I needed her to know that I was the leader. I needed to establish an authority with her in a respectful, but a strong and firm way. Whenever I ride or work with Kahari, I constantly need to be reminding myself that I need to be the leader. I needed to tell her I wasn’t going to be messing around but that I actually mean what I am saying. Once I establish that authority, Kahari is incredible!
I really want to stress that communication is so crucial because once we are able to communicate with our horses they will be able to progress and become much more successful. We can’t expect horses to understand everything we are trying to tell them. Sometimes, yes, they will be confused, which is why we have to learn to ask them in the right ways. Horses are SUPER smart and once they grasp the concept, the sky is the limit for them. So next time you work or ride your horse I want you to keep this in mind…communication is EVERYTHING.
Whether you are riding or doing groundwork, communication is still important. Learn to communicate with your horse properly by learning to give the right signals instead of the wrong signals. I know it is hard! Trust me, I know! Most of the times it is us riders who don’t know what we are doing. We simply need to learn to communicate with our horse properly as our horse most likely knows how to do what we are asking, but gets confused with “how” we are asking. I know you all can do it! Stay tuned for next week’s follow-up post on 10 Ways to Communicate with Your Horse Properly. Until next time… don’t forget to hug your horse!