Law 9 – Energy is everything.
Whether looking through a microscope or a telescope, everything you see uses energy. Some of you may believe in a deity, a divine being, who is the creator of this energy, and some of you think it is pure science. But most people are taught that everything has molecules (for example, water), and these have atoms (water is a molecule made of 2 hydrogen atoms and 1 oxygen atom, or H2O). We also know that atoms have protons and neutrons organized in a core or nucleus and electrons spinning about this nucleus. When atoms share these electrons, they can bind together to form the molecule. But there is more. Even smaller particles (subatomic) within the atom are not protons, neutrons or electrons. And all of these particles exist in the smallest things we know and the largest stars in the universe.
Every cell in our bodies and the horse also has these molecules, atoms and subatomic particles. So let’s agree to not talk about woo-woo stuff where we talk about connections through space to ancestors. However, we all have experienced days when everything “flows” or all the traffic lights are red, and the day never ends. So I want to talk about this flow as the energy of connection here.
I believe that we emit energy that attracts or repels people, businesses or just about anything in life. I think that it is a simple thing to understand if you only think of two energies: positive and negative. Positive energy is what you want and are not afraid of, while negative energy is what you want to avoid or fear. Unfortunately, due to the decades of training by marketing, advertising and news reports, we all seem to focus on what we are afraid of or don’t want. We bring THAT energy of fear, worry, doubt and anxiety into the stall with the horse. No wonder we fail to connect with the horse (or the people around us), and things do not go as planned.
Many people believe that the horse is there to help US become positive. Owners look at the horse as their therapist, the child or spouse they always wanted, a replacement for someone we lost or something else. We long to be with our horses because they accept us for who we are. They help us escape our miserable lives, find zen, balance the bad in the world and more. Isn’t this one-sided? If we believe that horses are living, breathing beings with thoughts, needs, wants and desires (more in Law 10), how can we “change” the horse when we can’t even change ourselves – on our own without any aid such as a therapist?
Change is an inside job, so I don’t focus on training the horse. We, the humans, need the training, and the horse will follow what we are – the leader. So how do we do this? I’ll tell you how I do it, but the exact methods are different for each of us. However, some tenants are the same for everyone.
- Tenant 1 – Training a horse, horsemanship and leadership are all about improving ourselves, not the horse.
- Tenant 2 – Energy is like water in always seeking the lowest level.
- Tenant 3 – The leader always has the lowest amount of energy.
- Tenant 4 – Energy level is NOT excitement level.
Step one is to recognize that you have control of your energy consciously. This control will take a lifetime of practice, but the first step is to identify your energy so that you can instantly change it. Think of the last time someone surprised you with something that scared you. Think of the energy you had instantly at that moment when you lashed out with sharp words or a fist and then begged for forgiveness afterward. Your actions, and reactions, to the event, were instantaneous and without thought. They were reactive rather than proactive. Most people don’t know that you can have your actions and reactions go the other way instantly. You can direct your response in the opposite direction. We see this in scripted actors, where an adversary jumps into the scene, and our hero doesn’t even blink. He remains the leader, and the action that follows goes in his favor. Unfortunately, we all have a script we follow based on our experiences, and we need to change this script.
When something raises our alertness, we usually raise our energy to match what is happening. The common response to this is the return of energy in an increased measure. As in a card game of poker, we “see you and raise you” until someone says “call,” and the cards get placed on the table. But working with horses is not a card game. The endpoint should not be a winner and a loser. So when the energy becomes louder (in music, when the volume grows louder, it is called a crescendo, which is what I call the increase in energy), I focus on lowering my energy (decrescendo). This energy balancing is a great time to offer my special training aid. After all, it seems everyone needs a gimmick to help you train horses, so here goes.
Send me a lot of money plus shipping and handling, and I will send you a box with the dimensions of your height, your width and an inch (2.54cm) thick. Unbox the content and attach it to a wall with the reflective surface facing away from the wall. Stand in front of this mirror when you are having difficulties with your horses (or your friends, family, or workmates). The horse will reflect you as well as any mirror will. Control what you are projecting, and the horse will respond in kind. If you crescendo, the horse will, too, until there is a “winner.” The result is not a willing partnership.
Once you have established a willing partnership, the horse will be glad to be with you. Horses will come to the front of the stall and become the friend you think you have never had in the human world. You have been looking for this connection in your relationship with horses, and you didn’t have to bribe them with treats to do it.
Remember this when a horse approaches you with raised energy. Acknowledge it (seek first to understand the horse), then lower your energy (then to be understood). Finally, give something different so the horse can reflect your new, lower energy. Here are the things I do immediately: control my breathing, dump my energy, and shut my mouth.
- Breathing is everything, as you cannot raise your energy if breathing with deep, controlled breaths. Holding your breath makes things worse. There is science behind this, as much of your adrenaline (the hormone you instantly make when you are afraid) leaves your body in your exhaled breath.
- Dumping your energy is a technique that you will develop. Many think of the “electricity” running through the legs, shoes and into the ground. Many call this “grounding,” and it works well. My technique is a little gross. I concentrate on my anal sphincter (the muscles that keep your poop in when you need to poop). It is impossible to have raised energy with a relaxed anal sphincter. I know you are trying this right now as you read. Puckered equals being tense with higher energy. Relax it, and you relax everything with the accompanying reduced energy vibe.
- Shutting your mouth means stopping talking. If you open your mouth and form words, you are telling the horse that you are afraid and not the leader. The words most often heard are “It’s OK,” “It’s alright,” “No one is going to hurt you,” “This will only take a second,” and “Come on now, do you have to make things difficult,” and so much more. All of these are instructions or what I call COACHING. Do not coach. These horses are not your children or spouse. How does coaching them (or your horse) work when no one has asked you to be their coach. Leave all coaching to coaches training people or horses asking for coaching. Instead, coach your horse on how to cut the cattle, take the correct strides between jumps, or run the fastest and most efficiently. Just shut your mouth and stop coaching the horse with higher energy. The high-energy horse says they do NOT want your coaching right now.
If you insist on opening your mouth, it should be as a positive cheerleader. Examples include “You’re the best!” “I’m so grateful!” “You are just amazing!” And my favorite – “Thank you!”
Here is the main part of words and their effect on horses and people. Words are no different than a sweet treat. Words are usually a response to a horse’s behavior or an emotion you have to that behavior. We tell lies with our words, and everyone, including the horse, knows that lying is wrong. Why then do you lie to the horse? Telling him that it will be OK is usually a lie from the horse’s perspective.
“It’s OK” doesn’t seem true when the vet stands outside the stall door with a needle. “It’s OK” doesn’t seem true when you have a saddle in your hand, but it hurts whenever the girth is tightened. “It’s OK” doesn’t seem true when the opened horse trailer door beckons and the horse’s colon has painful ulcers irritated with motion. These are examples of not seeking first to understand the cause behind the horse’s perspective. Stop lying, shut your mouth, start listening and lead.
Cheerleading is a way to reward GOOD behavior. Coaching, on the other hand, is a way to reward BAD behavior. Believe it or not, when you open your mouth and say anything while bad behavior occurs, you acknowledge that bad behavior and reward it. This positive reinforcement encourages the continuation of this bad behavior. Offering food during bad behavior is also rewarding bad behavior. DO NOT REWARD BAD BEHAVIOR.
The words “Thank you” are available instantly without needing to reach inside your pocket and unwrapping a candy. The effect of those words, when said along with the good behavior, are equally effective. REMEMBER TO REWARD GOOD BEHAVIOR (or at least acknowledge it in a small way).
The best thing to do when your horse exhibits bad or unwanted behavior is to breathe, lower your energy and shut your mouth. When good or desired behavior is displayed, the best thing to do is to say, with any positive emotion you care to show, “Thank you!” Project a feeling of gratitude or a small sense of acknowledgment. When you do this with kindness, respect and a genuine belief in truth, all horses will start towards a mutually respectful and willing partnership. Some people will do this with exuberance, while others will just relax, soften their eyes or turn up one corner of their mouth in a barely discernible smile. It doesn’t matter because any reflection of their accomplishment is positive energy you emit, and the horse sees and feels this. Energy is how horses communicate. It is impossible to do this too much. It will always work and will get better the more you do it.
Step one is to become aware that your energy needs to change. Step two is to know that you can change it. Step three is to practice, practice and practice more.
Learning to control your energy is about gaining confidence while remaining humble. Confidence without being humble is just arrogance. It looks the same on the outside, but it is fear-based, and fear is negative energy. Being humble is remaining in a giving state without wanting something for it. Confidence is about changing yourself to bring out the best in someone else without expecting anything other than mutual respect.
As you work with horses over time, your confidence will grow, and your fear will diminish. However, laws 1 and 2 will never go away and return as soon as you break any other laws. Remember that these laws are irrefutable. Like gravity, they are ever-present. But connecting positive energy to your horses will be the best prevention against injury and is the best training method. It requires no gimmicks (unless you install that wall mirror). It doesn’t need complicated movements or skills. It is based only on your personality and matching it with the personality of the horses you have and becoming confident in yourself, rewarding only good behavior and genuinely believing that the horse has an equal say in your relationship. I’ll leave you with this one thought, and it might not be something you want to hear.
Suppose you are not good at relationships with the people around you – your spouse, children, parents, neighbors or the person behind the counter at the convenience store. How will you become good at a relationship with another species? Practice these skills with people first. Become good with them. If you must, get a job behind the counter selling something you know nothing about during the busy time of the year to stressed people. An example for me would be to sell perfume at a large department store to men at Christmas who are shopping at the last minute for their wife or girlfriend. If you can conquer your fear here and become the leading salesperson, then you can conquer your fear and negative thoughts you are bringing to the horse in his stall. Get right with yourself, and you will get right with your horses.