How to Know Your Horse is Connected
by Parelli Natural Horsemanship on Feb 09, 2022
As a horse enthusiast, you probably care a lot about how your horse feels about you. If you’ve been wondering whether you can tell if your horse is connected, you can! And if you don’t think that your horse is connected to you yet, don’t fret. Horses are relationally dynamic animals, and we will share what you can do to start building your connection today.
How to Tell if a Horse is Connected to You
- Your Horse Says Hello: Horses that greet their owners or handlers by nickering or physically going to them is a sign that they feel connected to you. So much so, that they look forward to seeing you!
- He’s Relaxed Around You: If you’ve been working on your partnership for any length of time, you probably already know that horses are prey animals, and they relate to humans as predator by default. So, if your horse is relaxed, you can be assured that you’ve gone from predator to partner and have already conquered one of the most important hurdles!
- Respect and Direction: You really know a horse is connected if he considers you to be his leader. There are a lot of signs of this, but simply put, he looks to you for direction and respects your instructions and personal space.
- Your Horse is Drawn to You: When your horse is connected to you, you will notice that he wants to be around you. Your body language will influence his movement, and his eyes and ears will track you when on the ground.
- Harmony in the Saddle: A horse that considers you his leader will be connected in the saddle in the same way he is on the ground. You’ll notice a responsiveness and not a constant battle of the wills.
How to Attract Your Horse to You
Because horses are flight animals, when they’re not fleeing from perceived danger, they will explore something new, as long as it doesn’t pose a threat.
Therefore, to draw your horse to you, you want to come across as non-threatening, interesting, and have something positive to offer. To appear non-threatening, you have to intentionally ignore them. We explore this in the Retreat and Reapproach Game (Level One inside the Savvy Club membership). You can make things interesting and positive by introducing play to your partnership dynamic.
First, You Have to be a Listener
The first step of being a good communicator is being an excellent listener. Listening to horses requires a different set of skills than listening to people. You must understand how horses communicate with one another and look for the same signals in your horse’s communication.
Understand Horse Psychology
Knowing horse psychology is a crucial step in knowing how to connect with your horse. Miscommunications and reactions happen in horse riding and handling because horses and people speak two different languages and come from wildly different instinctual backgrounds.
The first thing to understand in horse psychology is that horses are prey animals, and people are predators. That means that whenever we get mad, scared, frustrated, or stressed, our horses sense those emotions in us as predatory feedback. And when they sense something predatory, their first instinct is to run from it.
Becoming Your Horse’s Leader
The Parelli Program is founded on the principles of Love, Language, and Leadership. These principles are rooted in understanding the horse’s perspective, because true leadership happens when you communicate with horses in their language and on their terms.
While that might seem like an elusive notion, we do that every day here at Parelli Natural Horsemanship through the Seven Games. Pat Parelli developed the Seven Games based on how horses establish rapport and leadership together in the wild.
Playing the Seven Games will help you earn your horse’s trust and become his leader. Inside the Savvy Club Membership, you can access training on the Seven Games and all the Levels of the Parelli Program, in addition to the Parelli Vault of trainings, Q & A’s, and more.
Becoming your horse’s partner is very simple, but it takes work. Once you become their partner, the sky is the limit with you and your horse.