I would love to share a conversation that happened between Maya and myself. Noons joined in the next day too.
Firstly this is how I see the difference between having a conversation with my horses and presenting them with a monologue.
A conversation is an exchange of thoughts, feelings, ideas and information. Questions are asked and answered. We take turns to communicate and listen. It is a two way exchange.
A Monologue is where one person speaks, they don’t stop to listen it is one way traffic of communication. If we have this kind of communication with our horse we will miss the joy of the conversation.
Our conversation went like this,
Me I think you are feeling a little full of energy today, lets harness it and influence you to move around a bit.
Maya Yes I enjoy moving and feeling my power, however I remember when I came to the mounting block yesterday at liberty I got a carrot, I am smart and I like carrots as you influence me past the mounting block I feel drawn to go behind it and stop hopefully you will get me a carrot.
Me laughing at how clever she is, oh my word how sweet!!! but hang on I didn’t ask for this, lets pause a second. Never look a gift horse in the mouth? or…Maya is avoiding what we are doing. HHHmmmmm I had to go with what my intuition was telling me, which was sometimes it has to be my idea sometimes hers and it felt like it should be mine.
Me Well I think we should carry on with what we were doing, but thank you clever girl!
Maya Oh we are having a different conversation today and I can express how I am feeling about that.
We played together with Maya letting me know she had noticed that I had noticed her ploy to get carrots. She had a good trot and canter around and I asked her to come in and we trotted together, her following my lead. Walking when I walked, stopping when I stopped. Then we had a pause and I followed her lead.
After her leading me back to the mounting block, which was fine as we both knew she was leading now. She was much softer much more relaxed in her posture than the first time. I stood on the mounting block.
Our conversation continued.
Me How would feel about coming closer, close enough for me to mount.
Maya Well give me a moment to work it out. Oh ok you are staying put up there and asking me to come over, I can do that.
At first she stepped away but only just, I stayed where I was and asked her to come back around, she did! This was feeling like a fun conversation. After this she happily accepted the tack and we continued our conversation with her letting me know when she was ready to finish riding.
The next day I took the tack to the arena, and both girls. My idea was maybe to see how Maya felt about riding with company. We shared territory, I played with them both a little at liberty, they were relaxed and it felt like all three of us were connected. Maya let me know she was happy about riding and it was by far the most relaxed she has ever been, she didn’t try to go to Noons and went into the areas of the arena which before had been too stressful under saddle she did this willingly without any lead from Noons. She even weaved around cones which we had done at liberty.
I had underestimated how connected Maya was to me and thought she would choose to follow Noons the fact that she took me to the areas she had not wanted to go to and to even start to allow me to influence her in riding was a huge step in our ridden relationship.
After I got off beaming from ear to ear! and so proud of Maya, I took the tack off and both girls were allowed to roll. Noonoo went over to Maya’s tack and was asking me ” Is it my turn at last?” She was covered in sand and I didn’t have her tack, she came to the mounting block, moved closer and I just had a quick sandy sit on her at liberty and rewarded her with some carrots. I let her know she had done an important job too.
Had I not followed what Maya’s body language was telling me the first day and had tried to work on mounting with her I feel she would have left me after all she has the choice she was at liberty. Her desire to choose my leadership grew she saw that I could lead and follow. I have no doubt she was pleased that I noticed her trying to take the lead. Horses do generally like to follow a leader who knows when they need to lead and when to follow. All part of our conversations, she is a great teacher.
Building relationships requires conversations. Happy horsey chats, Jayne.