Alternative Methods in Horsemanship™ - Tina's Tips
Tip #3: Words and Thoughts Make Pictures
In my previous Tina’s Tips, I introduced the importance of clear body language with our Equines. I also find that horses seem to pick up thoughts and energy from us, and often we are not aware of what we are projecting to them (again our busy lives and habits seeping in to our precious horse time). I’m sure you have experienced this when you’ve gone to work with your horse and you are agitated or fearful, they just seem to ‘know’. So again, clarity of thought can be just as important as clarity in actions. Child development studies have shown that the words that parents pick to convey a command may influence the child’s response.
Example: As a youngster reaches up to the stove top where a pot of water boiling, many parents say “don’t touch that, you’ll get hurt” Often the result was the child continued to reach and touch, with sad outcomes.
If a parent phrases the same command in a more clear, proactive manner, the results were much better. “Keep your hands to yourself” may convey something to the brain of an action.
The word “don’t” and other negative contractions are void of visual interpretation to a brain. So if a horse or a dog is bouncing up and down, most of us will think (or scream) “Don’t jump!” or “Don’t rear!” What picture does your brain envision with those words?
HINT: The brain will only interpret ‘Jump!’ or ‘Rear!’
I like to try to add congruent elements when I am communicating with an animal, therefore, I may try to construct my thoughts and verbal sentences more like this: “keep your feet on the ground”, or “four on the floor please!” and a clear mental image of four hooves of paws on the ground!
If biting is getting to be threatened, even in playing, try: “keep your mouth to yourself”
As with much of my path of learning in the horse world, I have found that becoming more aware of what and how I phrase my sentences has given me many more positive outcomes, with humans as well as with animals. I am not just saying that I only speak sweetly, because in life, sometimes one must speak with authority, leadership that conveys boundaries. Yet how I construct those communications really can produce more proactive results when I think more clearly of what outcome I’m looking for.