Here is a simple concept you can use that will immediately change your relationship with your horses. It will also help your relationship with your spouse, children or the person behind the counter at the convenience store. It is the recognition between cheerleading and coaching.
When working on a horse, I tell owners the difference, and the immediate improvement of the horse’s behavior brings positive remarks from everyone who tries it. No, you don’t need to return to the house and get into a short skirt or pants and a tight sweater. You don’t need to purchase a megaphone or learn dance moves. All you need to do is shift your thinking.
It is natural for all owners to want a perfectly cooperative horse. As soon as the horse makes a move that is not what you want, it becomes natural to try to control the situation by instructing the horse to behave better. This behavior is what I call coaching. It comes in two forms.
The first type is direct or instruction coaching where people bark something to the horse to control and receive the correct desired behavior. “Stand up!” “Stand still!” “Behave or I’ll….” “Move over!” And the many other things said often end with an exclamation point.
The second type is assurance coaching. Included are “It’s alright.” “It’s OK.” “It’ll be over soon.” “He won’t hurt you.” Not only are these examples of assurance coaching, but they are also lying. Quit lying to your horse. The horse says, “There is a strange man in my stall with a steel file in my mouth, and you’re telling me it’s alright!?!?!?!?” The horse says, “Let him stick this steel thing in your mouth, and I’ll coach you that it’ll be OK.”
What is happening with these types of coaching is that the owner is raising their energy. If you feel the horse or situation is getting out of control, you will naturally increase your energy. For example, if you don’t like dentistry, you will raise your energy when seeing dentistry on your horse. If the procedure or practitioner is new to you, it is natural to project your anxiety. If the horse is displaying unwanted behavior, many owners become worried that the professional working on the horse will think less of them as a horse owner – embarrassed. Or worse, a past event occurred where the so-called professional became unprofessional, responding with violence. Whatever your reasons for it, coaching your horse is directly proportional to your rise in energy.
Cheerleading is the opposite of coaching. It represents your belief in your horse to do the right thing. It is empowering for the horse as he either hears your words or feels your positive energy. Examples of cheerleading are: “What a good horse!” “I knew you could do this!” “I’m so proud of you!” “You’re the best!” “Thank you!”
It is OK to lie here slightly because the energy you send is positive. But if you don’t feel comfortable lying, then DON’T SAY ANYTHING. Silence is a huge motivator for a horse that wants to please. But more importantly, being silent allows the horse to concentrate on what the professional is trying to communicate. If two people say something simultaneously, I cannot hear anything someone says to me. The horse also has trouble, and listening to two people talking is confusing. It would be best if you released your desire to be in control and allow the professional to do their job – or find someone else to do it.
The next time your professional works on your horse, try these two things. Don’t say anything to the horse. But if you do, only cheerlead. You will be amazed at the result.
By the way, ladies, men know coaching as “nagging.” And no one likes to be nagged. So try cheerleading instead and see the positive results! “You’re my man!” You’re the best!” “I couldn’t think of anyone who could do the job of mowing that lawn cause if there were a lawn mowing (snow shoveling, gutter cleaning, etc.) Olympics, you’d win the gold medal.”
Seriously ladies, try it – WITH SINCERITY – and see what your horse/man does in response. And yes, this works for all spouses, children, parents and the person behind the counter at the local convenience store.
Y’all are the best! Doc T