I’m in my last week of training, here at Buffalo Woman Ranch, outside of Dove Creek, Colorado. For those who have not been following along, I’m here to learn about Equine Facilitated Learning. Horses are the “co-facilitators” in the learning process. Today, I am the student AND the teacher, as is the horse. We are learning from and teaching each other as it is in most student/teacher relationships. My lesson: Teaching the horse to wait.
If a horse is worried or a little anxious, it doesn’t want to wait, it wants to leave. It’s the fight or flight instinct that keeps us all alive…so when the human is acting like everything is alright but they are really confused or scared, the horse doesn’t want to be around that. As soon as the human acknowledges their feelings, the horse recognises the authenticity and relaxes.
So today, one of my lessons was communicating my desire to the horse that I wanted her to wait. Wait at the gate, stand there quietly so while sitting on her back, I can lean over her shoulder and open the latch, open the gate, she walks quietly through the gate and then I lean over, close the gate and hang off the side of her shoulder to latch the gate back. This is bareback, no saddle so I really need her to stand still otherwise I get dumped on the ground if she moves while I’m leaning over.
Baby steps. If I was in a saddle doing this, I can hang, put my weight in the stirrup, hold onto the saddle horn, whatever help I might need, it’s there with the saddle.
Baby steps. Instead of just getting the job done, she and I took one step at a time with breaks for her to process what was happening as we went. Those were also my times to breathe. I find myself holding my breath through some of these lessons. Breathing while learning…the brain needs blood…the muscles should stay relaxed…slow down…
Baby steps…at first it seemed like it was going to take forever but as she began to understand what I was asking, she began to trust me, she got more confident and it wasn’t long…she got it. I never had to show her again.
She understood what I was asking, she didn’t get scared or hurt so she learned it and will probably never forget it.
How does this translate into my human communication skills? Wait a minute…I’m processing…