Horses, like humans, are sentient beings. If you study them closely you will notice they have complex emotions, views, thoughts, feelings and opinions on the world and distinct preferences on who they spend time with and how things are done.
Therefore, to get the best possible relationship with a horse takes some effort and a reasonable amount of skill.
I was brought up in a world where horses were tools, used for human's gratification and pleasure. In my case that was competitive equestrianism, for which I travelled the UK and even went to Europe to do it.
However, spend long enough with a horse, and you come to realise their happiness is your happiness, and you start to ask a different question.
You move away from "how can I get this horse to do what I want?" To "how can I support this horse to be their best?"
When I was 15, I had a fantastic horse called Mr. B that captured my heart completely. He was the first being I ever felt love for. A slightly older horse, I had to pay extra attention to Mr. B's wellbeing in order to still compete at high level competition. At the same time, my riding instructor started to introduce the concept that poor performance was never the horse's fault, and it was always I that needed to improve.
This level of accountability served me exceptionally well when I started in the workplace. Rather than take a victim mentality over what wasn't going well, I'd look to my own performance first to see if I was actually the problem. Nine times out of ten I was, and I could make quick adjustments and move forwards.
This stopped me from experiencing the frustration so many people are plagued with. By realising that my power rested with me, I stopped looking to external sources for help and started to rely on my own inner wit and wisdom for guidance and support.
I write all this because just this morning I have a desire to tackle an issue I've noticed in Jim's performance. To that end, I've come out to the paddock to start the process of addressing that issue. The first step in doing that is to just "hang out" with him and meet him where he's at.
The majority of my approach, and my most favourite way to work, is to take the human into the horse's world. So I am doing just that - stepping into Jim's shoes for a morning, building up his trust and faith in me and seeing the world from his perspective. From there I don't know what will happen because I have at present become distracted by sharing this blog post and insight with you! However listening, then acting has become the only way I know how to operate, because anything else feels half-baked and deeply unsatisfying!