Listen if you dare

Times are changing – horses are no longer seen but not heard. Just as children are now allowed to be significant and self-assured, the privilege for horses to be allowed these rights is also emerging.

Horses, as a working species, have had pretty hard times at the hands of humankind, labouring beyond reason to provide for our needs, and then abruptly discarded when no longer useful. Considering the amount of time that they have been under domestication, the welfare of horses has been lagging behind that of dogs, cats & other domestic species. We are still these days conditioned by our laws and rules that horses thrashed with whips and dug with spurs as “motivation” to comply is acceptable – a concept that would be horrendously received as a dog or cat “motivation” strategy.

One does not need to be a horse whisperer to understand that a horse will directly communicate with us. Some people, however, find it inconvenient to receive a response that is not matching their expected outcome. This is exactly the same concept that many children experienced within the authoritarian parental era. They were seen but not heard. Punishment was the reaction to an unwanted response, and fear the by-product.

Do you dare to listen? It might not be what you want to know.

What if your horse tells you “I can’t”, will you listen?

What if your horse tells you, “I won’t”, will you listen?

What if your horse tells you, “that hurts”, will you listen?

What if your horse tells you, “I’m worried”, will you listen?

What if your horse tells you, “I need my friends”, will you listen?

What if your horse tells you, “I need a moment to think”, will you listen?

What if your horse tells you, “I’m offended”, will you listen?

If you listen, your horse will begin to open up to communicating with you. Your horse will be happier to see you. Your horse will be able to bond with you. This is a truer partnership.

The shutdown horse, although agreeable, has not been heard. It is a horse that has lost their will to communicate. It suffers as that of a servant, meeting only needs not of their own, through whatever pain or displeasure arises.

Do you dare to let them show themselves, dare to let them think for themselves? Do you dare to let them have a say in the actions of their own bodies, and to be patient in your response. Do you dare to praise more than punish?

It is all about the quality of the communication, not the quantity.

Buck Brannaman