Before you can trust your horse, you must trust yourself
What we desire to see in our world must first be cultivated and nurtured within.
If you want to build trust with your horse, you must be trustworthy yourself.
How does one go about this? To lay a good foundation, take a good look at your thought patterns. Are you quick to judge what’s going on? Or do you take some time to examine your situation and decide what the best course of action would be?
To become an Inspired Rider, one who trusts his or her intuition, listens to the horse, and thus builds trust by default, you must slow down and build awareness.
These are the core steps I suggest to my students. If you truly desire transformation, I highly recommend taking these ideas to heart.
1. Be particular about your thoughts.
It’s time to rid yourself of thoughts that no longer serve you. Write them down. Shed some light on them. Take time to decide what thoughts are pushing you towards a better relationship with your horse and which ones are holding you back.
Remember, you are the ultimate script writer in your own life.
You have the power to shift your thoughts. Once you do that, you can then begin to feel better and better. Then new, inspired actions will be your most natural next steps.
2. Check your inner compass.
Developing your internal truth compass builds trust. Say statements out loud that are absolutely true. You can begin with saying your name out loud. Then just notice how you feel. Then say statements out loud that are absolutely false. Notice how you feel.
Once you can pinpoint how your body feels, you’ll be able to create this compass for anything you’d like answers for.
For example, you might think: “I am ready to canter right now.” Your body will let you know if that is true or false. (Of course, be sure your horse is at the ready first.)
3. See your horse in a new light.
Now that you’ve cleared out your unwanted thoughts and started to find trust within, we can begin to look at our horse in a new way. Again, think of what you already know about your horse. Think of his history and what he’s already proven to you from experience.
Focus on the aspects of your equine partner that you genuinely enjoy.
Just like writing out your thoughts in step one, write down everything you know about your horse. Examine what’s working and what isn’t. If you take this time, you might find some really interesting patterns. Once you’ve taken stock of every little detail, seek out solutions to highlight the good stuff and allow the unwanted things to fade away.
(You’re thinking, but how? Keep reading).
4. Create greater clarity.
Clarity creates trust—in yourself and in your horse. If you focus on having clear thoughts, backed up by clear actions, your horse will relax. He will know that you are thinking and what you intend. If you’re thinking about something else, but trying to do another thing, this creates friction.
Horses are not fans of friction. They relax when you are crystal clear about your intentions.
If you imagine something bad happening, but try to push through the anxiety forcefully, your horse will respond by either getting confused, stressed, or—if you’re lucky—carry on in a stoic way, hoping you’ll get with the program. Do your best to focus on what you want and then follow through.
It can be as simple as asking your horse to go on a twenty meter circle at one end of your arena. Imagine it first and then ask. Then praise and appreciate that they did that with you. Something as simple as that can build trust, little by little.
5. Pay attention to your attention.
Where attention goes, energy flows. If you focus on the idea that your horse might spook in the next part of your ride, guess what? He might spook. Tension can be created by your thoughts, which influences your mental pictures you’re sending to your horse, along with unnecessary tension building up in your body. Your horse feels everything.
I’ll repeat that: Your horse feels everything.
If you’ve been known to repeat thoughts of ‘oh no, my horse might spook!,’ decide to take life by the unicorn horn and CHANGE your thought.
Alternative thoughts might be: “We are doing well. My horse and I are connected. Even if he gets nervous, I’ll be able to move with him beautifully. Let’s aim for the best transition possible. I will breathe and stay with my horse. I can feel what he needs in each moment.”
Can you feel how these thoughts are way more empowering than, “Oh no…. What if… ?” Your thoughts are powerful. Build trust by creating more productive thoughts during your horse time.
6. Ask for less. (Seriously!)
If you had intended to work on certain movements that are challenging for your horse, focus on simple things that you know he can have success with first. Begin to notice when he tries extra hard for you, praise him for it, then end the session much earlier than he expects. Do this for several sessions in a row.
Begin to notice how much more your horse offers.
When you take the pressure off, in any relationship, your partner can feel relief and get more excited about showing you what they can do. If you’ve never done that before, you’re in for a treat! That’s how I’ve trained all of the green horses I’ve worked with. We go super slow, with short and sweet sessions, and then we look back and feel proud with how much we’ve accomplished together.
7. Practice basic telepathy.
Yes. It’s possible! Get grounded, quiet, and breathe into your heart area. Imagine it expanding and connecting to your horse’s heart. Ask your horse if he’s willing to chat with you. Ask him good quality questions. “What can I do to help build our trust?”
Notice what comes up. You might see flashes of images, hear sounds, feel sensations, or even smell certain things.
Be open. Even if you don’t feel like anything came through, always thank your horse for being willing to connect. Notice what happens when you see him next. You might be surprised by how your trust builds exponentially.
8. Make time for quality time.
Grab an outdoor chair, a fun book, and sit and read out loud to your horse for an hour or two. Don’t think you have this time? Replace one of your riding sessions with story time and watch your relationship grow.
The more comfortable you feel just hanging out with your horse, the more your trust in him will build.
He will begin to appreciate that not every interaction is based on riding. You can also experiment with sitting in silence and enjoying each other’s energy. Just be you. That’s what your horse really wants. He wants to know that you are willing to accept who you are and who he is.
Isn’t that a wonderful way to create trust in any relationship?
I will leave this with eight points, as it also reminds me of the infinity symbol. May your connection and trust with your horse grow to infinity. And, as I always say, being a huge Star Wars fan as well as loving this concept of your horse truly enjoying your company: May the horse be with you. Always.
P.S. Enjoy this article? Trot on over to:
- 3 Fear-Free Secrets to Gain Your Horse’s Trust & Respect
- 32 Things you can do today to calm your riding nerves forever
- How can I calm my nerves before horse riding?
- What are some ways to gain confidence riding horses
- Get your asana in the saddle: 5 yoga tips for equestrians