CFN – This Column of “Spirits in Unity” is being published by CFN for the community of Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry.
Recently we had a pleasant surprise here at Drogheda Manor. My first horsemanship student, Sharon Spencer, dropped by on her trip home from Victoria B.C. where she now resides. She came to reconnect with her old equine partner, Clancy
Sharon and another young girl by the name of Bryanna were my very first students and were the catalyst that encouraged me to develop our “Spirits in Unity” horsemanship program for kids and adults. These two young ladies, despite much scoffing from the horse community that kids couldn’t possibly become ‘horse whispers’ as it were proved to me that kids can become horsemen and women.
These two young ladies convinced me that children indeed are capable of learning natural strategies to develop a rapport with horses and earn their respect.
So this week I turn my attention to the topic of building a rapport with horses. I will explore what it takes to really ‘care’ in such a way that the horse knows we care.
In Columns #15 to #27 I spent a great deal of time on the topic of confidence.
Building rapport with horses is another confidence building process vital to successful interaction with horses. It is about collecting your horse’s heart and building a relationship with him. In this way you can access the true greatness of a horse. It is about building a friendship, but at the same time balancing it with respect.
Why is Rapport Valuable?
Rapport is about relationship, connection, understanding, affinity and empathy. It is what builds a bond between you and your horse.
Confidence is the major element of the relationship. For horses there are 5 areas of confidence that need to be developed.
The Confidence Ladder
1. Confidence in their human partner as a leader.
3. Confidence as a learner.
4. Confidence in the Environment
5. Confidence with other horses.
Confidence in you as a leader: To be a leader of horses or humans, you need to have followers. So how do you get people and horses to follow you? Rapport.
Self-Confidence is the hardest of these to achieve. If you think of it, it is the same with humans. And where do kids show the most self-confidence. In their families.
Confidence as a learner. Horses and humans are naturally confident as learners at birth, but isn’t it sad when interaction with humans serves to stifle that natural desire to learn.
Again building rapport can rekindle or keep alive that natural desire.
Confidence in the Environment: Horses are always scanning their environment for new things. This confidence comes easiest when they are with their family, a familiar environment. That is why we try to play with horses in groups rather than singling them out. Have you ever had a situation when you were alone in an environment and how uncomfortable you felt? And for a horse who desires comfort, we need to keep this in mind.
Confidence with other horses; Horses are social animals, and so are we. We function best in our family settings, unless of course the family is somehow dysfunctional. For horses, unfortunately, we, humans are the ones who interfere with this.
Rapport is all about connection. It is where your horse truly believes that you are ‘family’. When a horse knows that you are friend and not foe and that you wouldn’t hurt him even if you could. When this happens a new spirit of confidence that is unusual in prey animals occurs.
Without rapport, true connection is impossible. The more you ask of a horse, the stronger your relationship needs to be. As a leader you must have rapport. With our students I see them developing a relationship that goes beyond what is normally possible with horses.
The fact that horses have served us and acted as our partners for thousands of years is a testament to their adaptability. Those who were most successful were those who realized that earning his trust was important. It is about taming and educating the horse by building trust and confidence without instilling fear.
Check out the video at http://secure.smilebox.com/ecom/openTheBox?sendevent=4d7a55334d7a63314d6a4d3d0d0a&blogview=true&campaign=blog_playback_link to see kids gaining rapport with their horses. Next week I will write more about how to gain rapport with a horse.
Today’s column is a compilation of thoughts inspired by various writings, talks and presentations of Horse Masters Pat and Linda Parelli as well as personal experiences with horses.
For all those people who give horses loving homes, and for all those kids who are wishing for that special partner, may all your dreams come true also.
Whether you are just a horse lover, have dreams of owning a horse someday, or already have one, I hope these columns will give you some insight into the true nature of these magnificent creatures. I hope you will find them both informative and inspirational.
Be part of your horse’s dreams, not his nightmares.
May all your dreams come true,
Garry “Horsetalker” Meek