Affirmations of Awareness for Horsepeople: On Perception

I strive to ensure that my perception and my horse’s perception of what I am asking are the same.
From my post on demanding the horse’s attention and many valuable sources, we know that horses perceive the world in a much different way than we do.

Does your horse see the same thing you do?

Does your horse see the same thing you do?

When it comes to working with horses, I’ve found this awareness of perception to be especially important. Over the years, I’ve repeatedly seen that a horse’s perception of us and of what we are asking from it can be so far from what we really want or need that trouble is bound to occur from time to time.

–Mark Rashid

Given the fact that our sensory systems are so different, how can we expect our horses to have an accurate perception of every single thing that we ask of them?

Truly mindful horse trainers and riders carefully examine the undesirable behaviors of their horses. They know that when a horse is having trouble learning something, that it’s not that the horse doesn’t want to learn. Most horses have more than enough “try.”

As a part of this affirmation, it’s a good idea to remember that, evolutionarily, horses are cooperative animals. That’s herd instinct. That’s how they have survived as a species. They want to cooperate. But they may often perceive the request and the surrounding situation differently and believe that the trainer or rider is asking for something different. The rider or trainer may also mistakenly perceive their misunderstanding as aggression or disrespect. This is where heart coherence, clarity, gentleness and consistency come in.

Heart Coherence* The state in which your heart and your head come together in a unified field. Horses are by their very nature heart coherent. Humans, unfortunately, often feel one way and behave another. Horses are pretty savvy at sussing out when there is incoherence in a human.
• Clarity Making your cues clear and unambiguous.
Gentleness No need for excessive force. Use the lightest cue necessary to get the desired response.
Consistency Be consistent in your cues, your level of gentleness, and maintain your heart coherence at all times with a horse.

From Mark Rashid again:

I truly believe that if we can look at the things that our horses do or that we do with our horses with just a little different perspective, it will allow us to find ways to get along with them that don’t always initially mean having to exert dominance over them. That opens the door for them to begin to see us as a true leader … someone who can be depended upon to make the right decisions for them most of the time.

* Heart Coherence “When you have a coherent heart, you are at your best. If you are accustomed to being appreciative, caring, compassionate, etc., all of which lead to a coherent heart, the favorable heart-rhythm patterns your heart sends to the brain trigger responses to these feelings that you’ve had in the past: Say, for example, that generally, when you sense certain situations could benefit from a caring attitude, you routinely respond in a caring way, perhaps uttering a kind word, giving a simple nod of support, maybe even tendering a gentle and loving reprimand. Your heart processes your caring attitude and responses into coherent rhythm patterns and these are sent to the brain, which in turn triggers remembered responses appropriate to or learned from previous similar situations.” From The HeartMath Institute

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