In a lot of horses' lives, one of the primary stressors is that their confidence no longer comes from within them. Their natural rhythms have been disrupted. They have to have permission to do everything.
As we all know, foals and young stock are naturally very curious and brave on their own.
Try leaving a young horse loose in your barn without them making some kind of mess.
As domestic animals, many horses have this natural curiosity and bravery “trained” (usually knocked) out of them, so they can “fit” into our human world.
These horses often “seek” their confidence, self-esteem, and direction from the outside, namely from the human relationship that took it away in the first place.
We must allow (teach) these horses to explore again, using the love and respect of a horse's natural rhythms in order to do so.
These classic type methods may not always have a “fast food” result and often take more time than “modern” techniques. This is often because the humans are usually the ones that need to alter their approach, as the horse was born inherently speaking this language.
Humans are the ones relearning it.
These types of methods will lessen (and eventually end) defensive, scared, worried, and reactive behaviours.
Troubled horses live their lives being judged and rejected or judged and accepted ("bad" or "good"). This is a very stressful lifestyle that this foreign to horses.
Slowing down and becoming aware of the subtle signs is a way to get in tune with the natural world that all living things understand.
Horses are hardwired to nature’s rhythm, like a branch waving in the breeze.
Humans are becoming so out of touch with the natural rhythms of the world and are more “boxed in”. Things have places and “need” to be straight and "proper" all the time. The movements of these humans are sudden, jerky, and artificial, especially if distracted waiting for a text or hurrying to get somewhere else. We are used to running on society's timeline (rhythm).
Humans are rarely present anymore.
Horses will see this type of behaviour as alien and will inherently file that behaviour as predatory and will behave accordingly. This is where many "bad" or "troubled" horses come from. As well as their manifestations of the stress that is inherent with disrupted rhythms.
These manifestations look a lot like ulcers, vices, and behavioural "issues" when, in reality, they are horses trying to tell us things are messed up and they need help to get through whatever is triggering said behaviour.
One must slow down and drop human social B.S. when working with horses.
Horses don't care how cool you are, how big/small your bank account is, what you drive or what you wear. This means that all of these types of human behaviours and thoughts should be left at the gate before even touching a horse. This includes other excess emotions (ex. your personal problems) as they don’t apply to working with horses.
Presence and respect of the handler are the least any horse should expect as it is basic respect to be present when interacting with any living being.
When we slow down, breathe, become present, and fall in tune with the natural rhythms that surround us all the time, it is far easier to dance this way.
Working with horses is absolutely akin to dancing, only you are the dancer and the horse is the music. As good dance is seamless with the music, this kind of unity is what we seek when working with horses.
This is one of a myriad of reasons why rhythm is so important when working with horses.
Once we can readily and instinctually feel that rhythm again, is when our dance (ride) will improve, and our aids will appear seamless. Feel is always the key, as feel results in timing, readiness, and tact.
Feeling rhythms is a natural state for humans, not a task which we feel like we need achieve or complete.
It's simply about connecting our reality to theirs and theirs to ours.
Natures rhythm differs greatly from the rhythm of modern human lives and societies.
Heartbeats, breathing, blinking are just a handful of our obvious natural rhythms. To slow down enough to identify and recognize even those few things will allow us to coordiante our rhythms with theirs. Unity and seamless work is always impressive, to both parties.
That's when we're really getting somewhere.
Rhythm, connection, and freedom are three of the many gifts horses give us when we ride, it just about knowing when they are being given, by surrendering to riding and feeling rhythm again.
You are allowed to feel the rhythms many of us have been taught to us to become so tone deaf to.
Find your rhythm.