Horses don’t hide their emotions

Recently, Dr. Deb Bennett posted this excellent essay on the forum at her Equine Studies Institute site. Here are just a few quotes to entice you to read the whole thing.

On the horse’s fear:

“Why this is, is that horses, more than most other creatures, embody their feelings and thoughts: they ‘body them forth’. No horse that spooks and runs away does it because of effort by his muscles, even though effort by his muscles is what moves his legs. A horse runs away because he is frightened: the adrenalin is pumping: the thoughts are not focused on any task but mere escape and survival. The muscles are the slaves of the emotions, and thus, any rider who tries to stop a runaway with the bit is addressing the wrong part of the animal. Getting the horse stopped once the emotions have taken over is both difficult and chancy.”

On our role at Teacher for the horse:

“The teacher’s task is to explain what she wants the student to do, in a step-by-step manner. The greatest challenge for the teacher is to find and maintain the maturity, mental flexibility, and creativity to be able to RE-explain something when the horse doesn’t get it the first time — re-explain it in a different way, with variety in the variation, so as to give the horse a different angle on it to help him to get it. When the penny drops, you might say, the physical tension in the horse will long since have dropped, too. Curiosity and engagement are the primary antidote to fear.

Do check out the rest!