We all crave “connection” with our horses—you know, that special “something” that made The Black follow Alec Ramsay off the island and swim out to the ship that would “rescue” them both from the lonely beach that had borne their friendship. Perhaps you spend hours trailing your horse around his pasture. Maybe at night you fluff up the shavings in the back of the stall and make a pillow for your head (you figure you need to be up early to feed anyway).
Our best horsemen give us some rather more practical tools that really can help us attain this dream. And how do you know when you’ve done it? Here are 5 ways TSB authors say you can tell you’ve truly connected with your horse.
1 It takes the slightest shift of your weight in the saddle, or the most subtle variation of thought to get your horse to move his hind feet wherever you want them.
In the DVD series 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN we see the very best example of this, demonstrated by Buck in front of a group of clinic attendees. “It’s not about training a horse,” says Buck. “It’s about getting a horse with you. It’s about becoming one mind and one body.”
2 You can ride “by the tips of your fingers.”
In THE ALCHEMY OF LIGHTNESS, authors Dominique Barbier and Dr. Maria Katsamanis say that when true “lightness” is achieved, the horse moves as if on his own, without the rider interfering. “I use the idea of holding the reins only with the ‘tips of the fingers’ because it makes it impossible for the rider to be strong, to pull, or to force,” they write. “Holding the reins, like they are ‘dirty,’ like something we do not want to touch…The reins should be something we don’t want to touch unless we have to….If we ride the horse lightly, he will be light with us—as light as we want him.”
3 You can just “be still” around each other.
In her new book 3-MINUTE HORSEMANSHIP, author Vanessa Bee says,”Horses seek quiet thoughtful people…Most of us are so busy planning the future we don’t give the horse our undivided attention…Just ‘being’ with a horse can be very relaxing and enjoyable.”
4 When you walk away, your horse follows you.
In the wonderful introduction to natural horsemanship for kids HOW TO SPEAK HORSE, authors Andrea and Markus Eschbach explain that through basic groundwork, you can teach your horse to understand that when your back turns toward him, it means you want him to follow you. “When the horse chooses to come to you at your invitation,” they say,”he has accepted you as his leader…You will realize how much fun it is to play with and train your horse as the invisible connection of your partnership becomes stronger and stronger.”
5 You sense how your horse is feeling—you just “know” what he needs or wants.
In BUILDING A LIFE TOGETHER—YOU AND YOUR HORSE, Frederic Pignon and Magali Delgado talk about how in the company of horses, we learn to listen to our intuition because our intellect and human experience do not always supply the answers. “When Templado [the famous white stallion, seen by millions of people in the hit show Cavalia] was near the end of his life, Magali and I both had the strongest feeling on the same evening that we should bring him home,” says Frederic. “As soon as he got into his stall, he began to recover his energy and his love of life. I know we were right in what we did.”
Find books and DVDs with the best ways to find the connection you want with your horse at the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.