Image by Kirsten LaChance
Image by Kirsten LaChance

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Enjoying the View
Enjoying the View

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Forest
Forest

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Image by Kirsten LaChance
Image by Kirsten LaChance

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TEACHING TRUST

July 21, 2021

"Before [horses] can trust you on their backs, they have to trust you on the ground" (Equine Helper, 2020). In other words, although you are the leader when you ride, it takes both of you to make the ride successful. If the horse does not trust that you will keep him out of danger, he is going to concentrate more on keeping himself safe than on doing what you ask. This could lead to a bad outcome for both of you.


However, if the horse first learns to trust you on the ground as you treat him with care and dignity, he is much more likely to trust that you will lead him safely in the saddle. Giving your horse time to understand what you expect and how he will know when he has done well provides both of you with a healthy foundation for working together.

The more you work on communication with your horse, the more he will learn to trust you. he needs to know how to know when he has done what you asked. How does this help in Team Building? Consider this scenario: you are new to a team, and your boss sends an email to each of you at 4pm asking for the "DOR" by 5pm, but does not further explain. You reply with a request for clarity, but receive no answer. What would you do? Very likely, concern and worry would lead to frustration. 


Imagine the same scenario again, having been previously advised that your boss prefers you to stop by with questions vs. adding to his already-full inbox, as he stays until 6pm each evening to go through email after everyone leaves. How might that make a difference? You would know which steps to take to best ensure the best outcome, giving you more confidence in your ability to provide what was requested.

If your horse does not know how to recognize and understand how you will communicate with him, he may quickly become frustrated and learn not to trust you. If, however, if he is given the time to learn that putting your hand up means you are asking him to step out of your space, he will remember that doing so reliably causes you to stop asking.  The horse sees this as a reward and a reason to continue complying with your request. Now both of you are pleased, and your working relationship is off to a great start.

Horses do not learn well when they are frightened, stressed or unsure. Humans experience trust and communication in a very similar way.


Horses help humans learn more about communication and building successful partnerships and relationships.

References:

Equine Helper, "How to Get a Horse to Trust You", https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFgCIkJlQQw

Apr 6, 2020