I follow such different guidelines in my interactions with horses now than I used to. Spending some time with Honey recently really shed a spotlight on this. I’m not even sure that “training” fits what I offered her. I am still searching for the correct way to describe what I do with horses. Putting that aside for the moment, bypassing my urge to look up definitions and synonyms, I will share what transpired.
Since I met, and brought Honey home, I have noticed how much she changes when she wears a halter rope. She will interact in a curious manner with you without the halter on, and then when you add the halter, her demeanor changes.
What we see is that he gets some worry wrinkles around her eyes. Her eye also loses some of that soft look, and her breathing changes. It gets a bit more shallow, and her mouth tightens. Honey’s interactions become less and it’s as if she’s just waiting to be told what to do. Not guided, or invited, more like ordered around. Because of her new job, her opinions and expressions are not only desired, they are valued, and the essence of equine facilitated healing work. What the horses offer in a 2 way communication is the core of Inner Journey Horsemanship.
My goals with Honey include being able to witness that softness that’s inside of her, and allow her to think instead of waiting for orders when she’s “dressed”. I really want the halter rope to represent connection and security rather than compliance or obedience. What I’ll share with you came about with that in mind.
My plan was to halter Honey, and just comb her while she grazed. She easily agreed to letting me place the halter on her, and then went back to eating while I combed her, just as I had planned. As often happens, the unplanned occurred.
Missy and Jewel bolted out of the outdoor arena where the 3 girls had been grazing. They ran all the way into the field and joined Anny and Charlie at the round bale. As the two girls took off, I stepped back from Honey to see what she would do, and keep myself in a safer space in case she whirled or tried to take off.
Honey did nothing for a couple of seconds. Then, her head went up and she moved a little sideways. I kept my energy as calm and grounded as I could possibly get it and focused on my breathing. A few more seconds and Honey checked in with me. She stopped moving sideways and her head lowered just a bit.
In that moment I decided to change my plan. I started walking the same direction that Missy and Jewel had taken in their hasty exit. I invited Honey to walk with me. Not surprisingly, she did so. There was slack in the lead rope.
After a few steps, I switched from inviting her to go with me, to following her. My body position in relationship to hers only shifted sightly. The biggest shift was in my intention.
Honey walked a few steps and then paused. This dance was very new to her, and it felt as if she was trying to figure it out, but uncertain if she really was supposed to just walk where she wanted. So, I repeated what I had done before and we started again and then I again switched my intention. The pattern continued a few times until we made it up to the round bale.
I allowed Honey to take a few bites from the bale. Then, I ran the comb down her neck a few times. I took the halter off. I watched her blink a few times and noticed there were no worry lines around her eyes. Not exactly what I had planned, and exactly perfect. Most days, this is how it goes with horses. Looking forward to the next adventure!