EMOTIONAL HORSEMANSHIP

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Welcome to a new normal

To understand a horse is to understand yourself. To work with horses in a modern way always works with our emotions.

I have stumbled into this. When I was early in learning all of this Horsemanship stuff I was only interested in being better with horses; a better handler, rider and eventually trainer. What I did not expect was that it would make me better within myself.

My favourite mentors and teachers knew this; Horses help us to access the parts of our minds we didn’t know even existed.
‘ In our riding school, we always find we end up working with peoples emotions’
That is what I was told, in a private and professional way. It was not a sentence reserved for clients, because talking about our feelings is still unpopular.

On the job, feeling to each other with 6 year old mare.
This is taken at Sierra Trails in Bubion, Granada, Spain.

Yet, time after time I have watched others and felt myself, progress through their skill acquisition with horses and simultaneously grow in their physical, mental and emotional capacity. This was an understanding that my mentors had just among themselves, and did not share publicly. It was not part of any open conversation.

A consistent reality in many horse businesses; riders came wanting to ride better and left riding better and feeling better! There is so much more to horses than just a mere sport, science or art. What is the next step for modern Horsemanship?

The old masters both Classical, Western and others all describe something in relation to horses. The language was different but the topic the same:

Feel
Connection
Relaxation

EMOTION. No longer a whimsical or vague topic. It can be scientific and practical.

Primarily inspired by the work of Estonian Neuroscientist Dr. Jaak Panksepp and a huge network of personal and collective experiences we can now work with our emotions and our horses emotions in a controlled, safe and practical way.

‘You have to be emotionally neutral when you ride’

‘The challenge with horsemanship is to learn how to control your emotions around horses’

‘The horse knows how you feel, even when you do not’

These are phrases commonly heard in the horse circles I run in. I understand that the genesis of these phrases is from a good place, but I think it can be misleading.

I am not talking about emotional supression
I am not talking about emotional denial
I am not talking about being emotionally unstable.

Being emotionally open creates wellbeing and peace with you and your horse. They feel you are an ‘open door’ for expression, not closed. This can help them connect with you

I think the crux of EMOTIONAL HORSEMANSHIP is
1) An active and clear headed awareness of how you FEEL and how the HORSE FEELS.
2) The ability to label and correctly identify different emotional states within yourself and the horse
3) Learning how to train with ALL emotional states, including states commonly seen as dangerous or counter productive.
4) Finally, welcoming all forms of expression in yourself and your horse

Suppressed emotions in horses do not go away, they fester and create behavioural problems.
This is taken at Sierra Trails in Bubion, Granada, Spain.

I hope that I can show you, that working with your emotions is not synonymous with being out of control or mentally ill.

I hope I can show you that being emotionally absent or ‘neutral’ when riding or handling your horse is NOT the same as emotional awareness, emotional intelligence or emotional control

I hope that I can show you that your horse CAN display more than just a passive, calm, neutral acceptance in training without being dangerous, misbehaved, unhealthy or unmanageable.

There is a plan

Over the coming weeks and months of 2020 I am going to unfold my theories and practices surrounding EMOTIONAL HORSEMANSHIP. I will be writing articles to be published here, show techniques on Youtube (both free snippets and full length via a paywall) and generate discussions with my small yet mighty community around the topic of EMOTIONAL HORSEMANSHIP designed to make you think, help you reach a deeper level with your horses and yourself, and improve your skills in a unique way!

In all ways I wish to promote a community surrounding horses that is WITHOUT SHAME. You are safe here, you are welcome here.

THE 7 BASIC CIRCUITS OF EMOTION
as discovered by Dr. Jaak Panksepp