The Horse Whisperer

It is the belief that the horse whisperer is a person who communicates on a whole new level with horses. Breaking it down further unfolds a person who tested the current level of understanding we have and took it to a new horizon. Evolution of man or beast would not take place unless individuals tested theories and tried something that would go beyond our current belief systems. Remember when man thought the world was flat? Yet, it took many, many years to uncover a new theory and communicate it to the world.

I have had clients refer to me as the horse whisperer because I get the results with horses that so many are looking for. It humbles me to accept such a title since I do not feel I have uncovered something new I just refused to accept our current level of understanding and treatment horses. So from my personal perspective I will endeavour to share with you the journey the horse whisperer takes.

The First Step the Horse Whisperer Takes

The old saying, to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, strongly applies to understanding horses (of course we mean barefoot!) It is when I release my human perspective and allow only the horse’s perspective to be of importance then communication can begin. The main components I utilize are understanding horse behavior, horse psychology (in their natural state), empathy and intuition.

Perception is Everything!

Becoming highly astute to every nuance of body language from a horse is paramount. Learning the difference between individual horses and how they would react differently to difference situations is the key. Here’s an example:

I have a horse Little Bit who will turn her hind end to face you. Upon first reaction most would perceive this as highly disrespectful and in many situations it is. But it would also depend upon the way the horse approached it. Slowly and methodically or quickly and in self defence. In Little Bit’s situation she has alarmed a few people and rightly so, if you did not know her personally! Her approach is always slowly and methodically and all she is after is a good “bum scratch”.

Knowing this is something she enjoys gives me a tool to teaching her!

funny horse picture

Horse Characteristics

There are two main categories that horses fall into and from there we break in down further.

The first is the Extroverted Horse.

- identified as the horse with more “go” than “whoa”

- has a high play drive and endurance

- more dominant than passive in nature

- quick to react/or over react

- typically the warm blooded breeds such as Thoroughbreds fall into this category

The other is the Introverted Horse.

- identified as the horse with more “whoa” than “go

- has a low play drive and will conserve energy whenever possible

- more passive than dominant in nature

- does not over react quickly

- typically your breeds such as Quarter horses fall here

Notice these are quite extreme characteristics. All horses will have some of both but with keen observation any horse will fall into one of these categories more often than the other.

From here I would break it down further into characteristics when the horse is in a calm/thinking state of mind (left brain hemisphere) vs. a horse who feels their safety is at risk (right brain hemisphere).

When a horse is in a thinking state of mind (left brain hemisphere) they would portray behaviors such as:

- dominant, confident, unconcerned or tolerant

When a horse is in a concerned state of mind regarding safety (right brain hemisphere) they would portray behaviors such as:

- fearful, nervousness, reactive, unconfident, spooky

The horse whisperer would identify at all times if the horse is left brained or right brained and under all conditions. Only then can the correct training strategy be decided upon. So now you have four different scenarios:

1. a left brained/extroverted horse

2. a right brained/extroverted horse

3. a left brained/introverted horse

4. a right brained/introverted horse

Here is an example of how the horse whisperer would perceive a left brained introverted horse.

Think of a quiet, low energy horse who seems to hide their feelings. People often choose these horses for beginner riders because they do not get over excited.

The important need for this horse would be “incentive” and your goal would be to find what “motivates" them”!This horse needs a reason or purpose to go somewhere and variety helps keep them interested. Incentives are very useful whether they be food or a good scratch. Here is where clicker training has been very useful and effective. The question this horse is asking is, “What’s in it for me?”, “Why should I?” They are very clever at analyzing a situation long enough to find a way out of the task! When we think they are STUBBORN, they are really THINKING their way through a situation to outsmart you and expel the least amount of energy possible! Remember, their primary goal is to conserve energy!

The need to be very clear in communicating what you want is always a high priority with any horse however this horse will resist the more pressure or force you try and use. In other words you can’t bully your way to this horse’s heart.

All this information is discussed at length in our lesson plans. Come and experience a Natural Lesson or Contact Us to discuss your individual needs.

For a further explanation on Horse Whisperer Training and how we see it all- click here

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