“Horse Speaking” with young Dillion at Maple Woods Farm last March was one of the highlights of this clinic. Although lovable, confident and cute, Dillion was a “Bubble Popper”. Using the language of Horse Speak, his “Go Away Face” (GAF) Button was non-existent. He just had no idea that a sending of energy or touch to that part of his face was a request for space. He crowded me in an attempt for affection, protection, connection, you name it. When I gently asked him for a little space he didn’t know how to respond. To clarify my need for space I added the Mid-Neck and Shoulder Buttons to the GAF Button. I did this by facing him, pointing my center in the direction I wanted him to move towards and asking him to not only turn his face away but take his front feet and shoulders with him. That’s when the light bulb went on and he began to understand.
He honored my request for space by stepping over with his front end, and then he bounced right back saying, “Do it again……” After repeating the same request multiple times he suddenly didn’t bounce back. He stood quietly, keeping space between us. That’s when it was clear that the seed had been sown and we could take a pause, allowing time for processing. We quietly shared space with me stepping away a bit but leaving a “Hold Hand” up to define the edges of our bubbles. We were still connected, our Bubbles still touching, but not collapsing into one another.
I was finally able to lower my Hold Hand without him bouncing back towards me. As he processed I was overcome with a deep need to let go into full relaxation. I could feel my body wanting to just lie down and take a nap. Because I was teaching it was best for me to leave him to it and return to my group for our “lick and chew” session. I quietly left Dillion with a light “swish” of my tail.
This work took place in a covered arena where he was turned out alone. In order to support him in this environment we stayed close, meeting next to him on the other side of an open panel gate. Within a moment he circled and laid down, using us and a barrel as his safety objects. The following day the depth of this lesson really showed. Dillion understood that humans had Bubbles and Boundaries. This knowledge was convincing enough that he knew we could take care of him and he would be safe with us as his leaders. This experience will have a positive effect on his interactions with horses and humans for the rest of his life. When we talk to horses in their own language it takes so little time to make huge progress……..and it feels good to all involved. The beauty of this work is that it is slow, quiet, safe and enriching, for both horses and humans. Anyone, regardless of age or experience can learn and achieve success using the principals of Horse Speak®.