We need to be present – here, now – not just physically but also mentally. If we are mentally somewhere else we will miss the subtle communications which are constantly coming our way, because we simply do not see or hear them. Humans spend a huge percentage of their time mentally in a place other than where their physical body is. Dwelling over past annoyances and misfortunes and thinking ahead to what is happening next in their hectic lives. To be able to connect with our horses on a subtle level we need to be HERE in mind as well as body. It is a long forgotten art – to be present – but we can retrain our minds to reconnect with the here and now, by becoming aware of its wanderings and gently bringing it back. A meditation practice can assist us with this, but it takes time to change the habits of a lifetime, that’s why it is called a practice, because you have to practice! You can take these skills into your interactions with horses and everyday life – commonly known as mindfulness, or awareness.
The Trust Technique is a meditation/mindfulness practice that you do WITH your horses (or any animal). But now it isn’t just about you. You are still training your own mind to be more present but you are in addition becoming aware of the effect of your own presence, or lack of it, on another being.
To connect with another being, each one has to be aware of the other. First we develop our own self awareness, then the awareness of our effect on the other, including the visible behaviours which are communicating to us the horse’s emotional state. When we are not present there is a huge amount of internal mental chatter as well as a lot of external physical activity which can be disturbing and confusing to the horse. They become adept at tuning this out for their own sanity, which means we become ever bigger and louder in our attempt to get the responses we require. By becoming more present and more aware, we can find an inner peace which opens the possibility for a deeper connection on a level that is more natural for the horse, where we can connect to each other on a more subtle level – through awareness and feeling and less on physical actions and cues.
To be able to communicate effectively there needs to be a dialogue. Both parties need to listen and to have a say. Most conversations between humans and horses involve the human doing all the talking and the horse expected to do all the listening. When the horse tries to put forward their point of view they are reprimanded for bad behaviour. When they shut themselves off to the endless tirade they are labelled lazy or inattentive. Once we are aware that all behaviour is communication, we can learn to read the horse in a much more detailed way which allows us to bring our own communication to a much more subtle level. When we can slow down our own thinking, movement and actions and make our communication smaller, the horse can do the same. Think of a situation when your horse is acting fast and big and you try to do the same in order to get the “upper hand”. They will always be faster and bigger unless you choose to physically restrain them through force – closing down the communication through behaviour that you do not want to hear. What if you could both be slower and smaller in your dialogue, through presence, connection and communication, until it becomes invisible, only felt between you?