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  • Kathryn Hulland

Horses are experts at body language they know when we are lying, or don’t believe in ourselves


Following on from my last post about the ways in which we can help horses adjust to our human world I am now sharing a further passage from the chapter Calm and Collected in Chris Irwin’s book Dancing with your Dark Horse. I love these paragraphs as it talks about the effect our own emotions and behaviour have on our horses, how they react to us is very important and we owe it to them to be as sincere as possible. Horses are experts at body language they know when we are lying, or don’t believe in ourselves. If we are asking something of them they need to know we are confident and believe what is being asked is ok and can happen. They need to trust us not feel like we are hiding emotions and bottling things up. They know when we are lying and they will eventually pull us up on it.

This is something I come across time and time again when healing with horses and why so often an owner gets brought into a healing, the horse wants it passed on because the reasons they are having problems fall on to the owner who is also have problems, once the owner has worked through what may be bothering them the horse often becomes much more relaxed. It can take some work, if you are going through a divorceand especially if children are part of it the feelings you are going through are not going to disappear overnight but you will find if you acknowledge them and work through them rather than bottling up your horse will respond to this. Too often people are busy and just rush the visit to their horses, or use the horse to take their mind off what’s going on which is trying to avoid it more, this energy will upset many horses and some may hide it well, others not so much!

So do your horse a favour open up to them, be honest, be truthful and let them see the real you – they can see it any way and they will like you a lot more if you are honest about it, they are also much more likely to trust you and accept you on their back if they feel you are not hiding something deep inside leading them to question whether they need to be fearful too. And don’t forget to thank them and give them what they need, do something just for them with no agenda on your own needs and requests; that could be hanging out in the field with them, taking them for a graze down some hedge lines or nice grass, perhaps a walk in hand as opposed to being on their back, giving them a good mutual grooming session – you know your horse and what they like let them have this, and if you don’t it’s about time you found out! Don’t take their kind willing nature for granted.

“Horses, therefore, can read the truth about us. And here’s the crucial step: They react to what they see. They give us feedback on what our bodies are telling them. Not what our lying mouths are saying but our truthful bodies. If we know how to hear what the horses are saying, they will tell us what we are truly like.

When I write that horses need us to be consistent, confident, leaders they can count on every single time, it’s not just a piece of strive-for-excellence rhetoric. Remember the distance we’re trying to travel with our horses. We’re taking what is essentially a prey animal, a frightened, angry, or sullen victim living a neurotic life filled with attention deficit disorder, and trying to transform her into a calm, confident, focused athlete. If you are to give your horse the mind-set of a champion, you have to develop one for yourself first. Horses really do need you to be that person, in a very literal sense. If you’re not, if you’re just putting on a show, if you’re lying (even if only to yourself), they’ll find out. This may sound too lofty, too idealistic for some people, but horses live in a word of lead, follow, or get out of the way. The sooner we stop denying what they really need from us, the better our chance of evolving past merely riding our pets and developing a truly mutually advantageous relationship with them.

The good news is that horses are generous. They’ll forgive mistakes. They’ll help us learn. We can use the feedback they give us to become the kind of people they need us to be – calm, focused, aware, confident, compassionate, and assertive without them being threatening. And if we let them, they will bring us to an awareness of what’s holding us back. They can help us to move forward by isolating and confronting out dysfunctions and our past traumas.”

Dancing with your Dark Horse – Chris Irwin

Available to purchase on Amazon

In Dancing with Your Dark Horse, Chris Irwin, world-renowned as one of the most successful horse whisperers in North America, further explores the intriguing spiritual connection he has discovered between human and equine nature. Based on his more than twenty years of working with, training, and observing horses, Irwin explains how the characteristics necessary to building good relationships with horses can in turn be used to establish a positive balance between mind, body, and spirit in our own lives. Dancing with Your Dark Horse will help readers see that horses have a great deal to teach us about how to live happier, healthier, and more balanced lives.


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