Building Trust & Being Present
By Amy Snow & Nancy Zidonis
Most of us have had the experience of sharing a pleasant ride with our favorite horse when our mind slips into thinking about what we’re going to make for dinner or what to buy at the grocery store, and the next thing you know, your horse bolts. Your horse knew you weren’t being present, and he probably over-reacted to the snap of a broken twig because he thought he had to protect himself. Even the most “push-button” horses can have their moments.
If you think your horse knows exactly what you are thinking and how you are feeling when you are riding, you are absolutely right! Horses are incredibly sensitive to human thoughts and emotions. Never underestimate your horse’s keen capacity to detect your mental state.
Horses are highly sensitive because they are prey animals. Their survival requires that they are constantly alert and aware of their surroundings. You rarely see a horse lying down sleeping unless another horse is standing guard. Horses are fully aware of people and other animals in their vicinity even if you don’t realize it. Plus, the ambient emotional tenor of their surroundings directly impacts the horse’s emotional stability. The horse’s survival is dependent on his ability to “read” everything in his environment, and that includes you.
In Chinese medicine the spirit of the animal is important. Emotions such as fear and anxiety can seriously disrupt the health and well-being of an animal and especially a prey animal. When faced with a fearful situation, horses want to run away as fast as they can. If the horse can’t get away, anxiety builds, and at an extreme level of stress, horses can become self-destructive, which is not a good survival strategy.
Your job as a rider is to help allay your horse’s fears and provide a sense of security. Building trust between you and your horse is essential, even before mounting to ride. Being present while riding lets your horse know you are alert and want to protect him. Trainers tell you to look where you want the horse to go because the horse knows where you are looking. It’s a good motto.
Acupressure is based on Chinese medicine and can help build the bond between you and your horse. There are specific acupressure points, also called “acupoints,” that are known to promote a sense of trust. Just by offering your horse the acupressure session included in this column every fourth or fifth day as part of your grooming regimen, you will enhance your connection with your horse.
When your horse trusts you and you both feel a strong sense of being bonded, your training and riding together takes on a whole new level of enjoyment. You become a special team!
Amy Snow and Nancy Zidonis are the authors of ACU-HORSE: A Guide to EquineAcupressure, ACU-DOG: A Guide to Canine Acupressure and ACU-CAT: A Guide to FelineAcupressure. They founded Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Resources offering books, manuals, online home-study courses, DVDs, apps, and meridian charts. Contact: animalacupressure.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
IF – Equine & Animal Therapies / Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Germany, www.if-therapies.com
Upcoming 2-day hands-on training in German: 21 / 22 March 2020 at Seminarhof Acht Eichen, Wehrbleck, Germany