With each class, communication skills are developed and refined. Horses are masters of subtle communication, a wrinkle of the nose or a flick of an ear is all they need to do to send a strong message to one another. Horses are also great at reading and responding to human body language. Working with horses is a great way to improve student’s human-to-human communication. So much of human communication is nonverbal, working with horses helps our students to be more aware of the signals they are sending with their body language. Standing tall, chin and eyes up, and picking up their feet when they walk with the horses. All these seemingly simple things send a clear message to the horse, I am strong. I am capable of being a leader; from there we work on leadership skills.
Students learn to present themselves with calm, assertive, authority when asking a horse to complete a task. Walking or riding with their head up, looking where they are going so they can effectively lead the horse. Moving with a purpose that demands respect from their equine partner, and learning that leadership comes from within, and not from physical force. Physical force and intimidation will not result in a respectful or meaningful partnership and makes working with a horse very difficult. Horses are prey animals. Meaning in adverse situations they naturally see only two options: Fight or Flight. When you gain a horse’s trust and respect you can prove yourself a worthy leader, a leader they will look to for guidance and assurance. We teach the students the concepts of leadership and have them complete activities with their equine partner that will help establish this hierarchy.