Leadership or Connection? Which would you choose?
We often get told we need to be the horses leader, or in some cases that we need to be ‘The Boss’.
This can set up a whole bunch of problems for us…
The more assertive person often takes over. This can mean that we don’t always listen, thinking everything will be fine if we just make our horse do what we want. In this mindset it's easy to miss those little places where our horses lose confidence. If you are naturally sensitive AND assertive, when you realise you’ve missed these bits you feel really guilty
For the less assertive person, not being able to ‘make’ our horses do something can lead to feeling inadequate. Inadequacy is a really disabling feeling that can cause you to be ineffective. If you are not naturally assertive, trying to be more assertive because someone said “You need to be a leader” will feel out of alignment. When this happens, you’re often EVEN LESS assertive and you enter into a vicious circle of feeling worse and worse.
Rather than leadership, I like to think about connection. When you have connection there is a true, two way conversation or dialogue going on albeit a silent one using body language. When you have connection you are sensitive to each others emotions and opinions, it’s OK to take your time if one or both of you are finding something difficult. It’s also OK to think, let’s leave that for today and come back another time.
Building connection takes time and sensitivity, it means learning to read your horses emotions and then understanding how to help them. It means learning to see if they are scared or if they are confident. A scared horse will need help building their confidence. A confident but stubborn or playful horse will need you to show them what’s in it for them.
When you can do all these things, your horse will be much more motivated to be with you and trust you in those difficult situations - this is where the magic happens.
True connection is something really special, it’s an amazing feeling and gives horse and rider combinations that special something that you can’t quite describe but you know it’s there.
It's my belief that this connection is what we all aim for with our horses and formed part of the picture we had in our imagination when we dreamed of being with horses in our childhood.
Remember films like The Black Stallion, Black Beauty and National Velvet? They all personified this connection in some way.
Let's keep seeking it everyday with our horses.