Dot to Dot
Do you remember when we were kids, the” Follow The Dot “ puzzles that we loved to do. It was a puzzle that you tried to guess at the beginning what you would find, but slowly you searched for where the next number was, in sequence, and as your pencil anticipated the next number, slowly but surely the image would show itself. This methodical approach had a sense of accomplishment as the picture appeared...colouring it was always an option.
As we grew older the puzzles had more numbers but we relied on one thing....our ability to count and we continued to methodically follow the numbers until the end trying to guess what the puzzle might become.
Horses are quite a bit different!!! They don’t follow “hints”, they can’t count, they don’t get to see the picture emerge before the end and they never fill in the blanks to get the answer. Horses can’t afford to. If they spent that much time coming to a conclusion they might perish.
Instead, what horses’ DNA has given them, is a natural brilliance to identify the whole picture based on the understanding of what happens ...before what happens ...happens.
Whether it is knowing to take shelter in the lowest part of the pasture as the electrical storm approaches or eating more as the daylight decreases, given a consistent stimulus or a pattern, horses will know the answer. Even the change of seasons applies pressure for horses to adapt so that their most primal needs are met.
If we take the time to understand the strength of this instinctive intelligence, it will help us to communicate with horses by how they think not how we think.
Everything is pressure for horses. they feel it, know it, live it for most of their day. It is inescapable for them because they are a prey animal. If we can truly say that we understand the way horses think then we should be giving them a chance to understand what we need them to know, by offering them time to think through what the end result should be.That way they are able to “get” the answer without waiting because they understand the pattern and the rhythm of when that pressure disappears.
This only can happen though, if we give horses a chance to think about this by making everything a puzzle and then setting it up so that they can be successful in finding the answer. Does it take longer than rewarding behaviour with treats? The answer is yes but what results is a much deeper partnership because treats are not the way of the horse they are the way of the human. I encourage you to learn to think like they do. It is worth the connection that you will have with your horse.