What I love the most about working with horses is the quiet, peaceful opportunity to communicate with an amazing being. I love not having to talk, at least out loud. I love all the subtle forms of communication between me and my horse- the sound of their breathing, the movement of their ears and tail, their expressive facial movements, the sound of their footfalls. Working with horses offers me the opportunity for respite from the over complicated and often tiring world of words – nothing to misinterpret through tone or bias, just me and the horse talking through feel.
Some people find comfort in talking to their horse. There is nothing wrong with that. If it helps you relax, that is great, and you should keep doing it. Some people enjoy talking and others don’t – again, nothing wrong with that at all. The problem comes when incessant chatter and communication through words interrupts the person’s ability to read expression, have good timing, and communicate through feel – be it their riding aids or lead rope. When we can’t stop talking, we aren’t noticing, and we aren’t listening to the horse.
Sometimes when people get into trouble with a horse, they talk to them as if the horse had the ability to speak English and communicate like a person. “Stop crowding me!” “Cut it out!” Or my personal favorite, “we talked about this!”
All these expressions might work with a person, but a horse, lacking the ability to understand complex sentences, needs direct communication in the moment of trouble, or better yet, if your timing is good, before trouble begins.
You can say all the words you want, but don’t mistake them for communication the horse can connect with. Even if you use voice cues such a “walk, trot, canter”, these are simple cues given in the moment needed.
Beware of incessant chatter. It takes you out of the moment, and keeps your horse from being able to truly tune in to you.