Horses are very social and often prefer companionship over food.  Think about how significant this is regarding your horse's ability to develop a connection and relationship with you.  To successfully bond with your horse, it is essential to be aware of how he feels about things.  Listening to horses and sensing what they are feeling will open up a new paradigm for relating to them.   The sheer volume of lessons that I have learned from horses is astounding and the lessons continue to this very day.  

Contrast the art of listening with other methods such as pressure and release.  In the horse world, you often hear the word "pressure".  There has always been something bothersome to me about the word "pressure" in relation to horses.  Horses have shared with me that they prefer influence over pressure.  Being "in sync" with your horse and listening to him fosters a partnership. Sometimes when I need clarity for something that doesn’t feel quite right,  I just sit with my horses.  Contemplation in the company of horses places me in an environment where I can be receptive to their message.  Thus, I am open to their insight.  If I already have a bond with a horse, I may occasionally use pressure and release but as a general rule I prefer to assume my role as their leader to influence their behavior naturally.

When training a horse, I always consider how I would want to be treated.  In relationships, we humans want our voices to be heard.  Thus, it is only fair that we listen to our equine partners as well.  I personally would much prefer my behavior to be influenced and would display a greater willingness to act if not "pressured".  Having a strong relationship with a horse requires his willingness and acceptance of your leadership and your training methods.  In a partnership of equals, the horse is free to express his opinion concerning your actions.  This can only occur when your horse is at liberty.  Paradoxically, at liberty you will find it much easier to influence your horse and thus will be less likely to revert to using pressure.  

Consider how receptive you would feel if YOU were a horse at liberty.  Horses make the best teachers when we open our hearts and minds to them.  Listening to the message of the horse is time well spent.  Furthermore, it allows for the creation of a new paradigm for relating to other people and animals as well.  My life continues to be thoroughly enriched by horses and I hope yours is too!

Have a great rest of the week!

Linda and the herd of 8

Join me in New York August 19-21