Home : Horsemanship Essays by Franklin Levinson : The Horse/Human Connection

The Horse/Human Connection

Majestic, noble, proud, magical, mystical, powerful, naturally beautiful, living-breathing art, the embodiment of grace athleticism and strength. These are just a few of the ways humans describe horses. We also attribute to the horse some of the qualities we humans strive for in ourselves. Qualities such as loyalty, integrity and honesty are part of the horsesnatural being. A horse always gives us an honest response to what is presented to it. It does not have an ego to cloud its perception.

Horses and humans have been joined since the first newborn foal was taken from its deceased mother mare and raised by its captors. Before that and since many horses have been food for humans and been their prey. But as soon as we had the knowledge and ability to raise a horse from infancy we had to make a very important choice. The decision is whether to lead this young creature into the rest of its life, as a domesticated animal, through force (i.e. fear-based control) or to lead it through trust, respect, knowledge and mutual agreement (i.e. love). One way produces a slave, a being whose actions are motivated by fear of punishment, a captive. The other way produces a willing partner, a loyal and trusted friend. It builds a relationship with respect and trust at its core.

The question becomes, how do we lead this wild, magnificent creature who is more powerful and bigger than we are, without using the force that produces a slave. The first part of the answer comes through learning about the horse and it's language. This is done by observation of the animal in its natural state, in the wild. How it communicates with other herd members. The dynamics of it's social structure and how older horses teach and discipline the younger ones (who is the boss and why). Understanding the behavior we observe is just as important as seeing it. In the case of horses, they are a herding-prey animal. This means they are naturally flighty and fearful. Always sensitive to any aggressive energy. The highest ranking female (mare) dictates the movements of the herd. When and where to stop for food and water, and, in fact, all major decisions concerning the herd are made and directed by this "alpha" mare. She is assisted by subordinate mares who help carry out her wishes. The dominant male (stallion) guards the flanks. He protects his breeding mates from being stolen by would-be rivals and protects the herd from predators attacking from the rear.

Horse Whisperer Horse Training

Some of the earliest memories young horses have is of how their mothers and other older herd members communicated with them. This was done through body language, touch and sound, along with other sensory stimulation. We must learn this language in order to communicate with the horse in such a way as not to produce fear but rather to promote feelings of safety and security in the horse. When the horse has all the assurance it needs to know it is safe, it will want to "join" with us in kind of a communion of spirits. After all, we are not separate from nature. Like the horse, we need to feel safe within ourselves in order for our lives to flourish. The horse is always ready to be our willing and loyal partner but only to the degree we are willing to extend peace, respect and love to this most magnificent creature.

Through interaction with horses we can learn to know ourselves better. They show us who we are by reflecting ourselves back to us whenever we enter their space. Either calm, peaceful and confident or nervous and fearful will be their response depending on which we bring to them. This is all done in the moment, on the spot, when its happening. We need to learn Equus, the language of the horse. When you begin to learn this language, not only will you gain insight into the nature of horses, but into your being as well. You'll discover that some of the basic needs and concerns of horses are the same as ours. This gives us a different perspective for dealing with these issues in our own lives. We experience horses as not so different and separate from us. Through horse "whispering" you'll come to know the kindred spirit that is Equus. You will reawaken and remember your connection with all life and receive the great benefits that this wisdom brings.