Natural Horsemanship, when performed in its truest form, is designed to create communication between horse and human through the path of least resistance. Communication can be defined as “two or more individuals sharing and understanding an idea.” Think about all the times you have witnessed or experienced a traumatic event with a horse. In my opinion, the majority of these “incidents” can be boiled down to poor communication. I believe that a horse’s behavior stems from one of two places as described by Ray Hunt, “He do what he thinks he is supposed to do, or he does what he thinks he needs to do to survive.”
As a natural horsemanship instructor it is my goal to instill discernment, leadership, and “feel” for the horse into each of my students. As the days fly by I often hear myself as a broken record, my words rippling across the sand, “Is your horse giving you a red light, yellow light, or a green light?”
This crossing of wires from real life circumstances to horsemanship can be so powerful. Imagine the possible outcomes from running a red light in your car, in real life. You may get caught on camera, and have to pay for it later or, get into an accident, harming yourself and potentially others.
Think back again to those unfortunate horse stories. In retrospect was your horse possibly giving you a yellow light you didn’t slow down for, or a red light that you blew right through? I believe awareness and reverence for those yellow lights could spare both horse and human from the emotional, and sometimes physical baggage of going too fast, and ignoring the signs.
The opposite reaction (going too slow) can also have negative effects, though often not as harmful. We all know the irritation and impatience that comes when caught behind a slow driver. It disrupts the flow and progress of traffic, causing one to brake inappropriately and delays their progress to their next destination.
Many people want their horses to be a “hobby”, and are often disappointed when they are unable to find relief from life at the barn. The thing is, wherever you go is where you will find yourself. In other words, the things we are trying to escape from have a beautiful way of reflecting themselves in our horsemanship. If you are an impulsive person by nature, you may be guilty of zipping through yellow and red lights, and are paying for it with an unconfident horse, who lacks trust in you and his environment. On the flip side those cautious and skeptical horse people may be driving their horses crazy for stopping when they offer their humans a green light.
It takes a centered and educated person to read the signs and respond appropriately with horses. This truth is just one of the reasons I love these amazing creatures. As we are striving to accomplish the simplest of tasks with them we are being refined into better, more balanced versions of ourselves.