Learning the Language of Horses
A few weeks ago our paths crossed with Brianne from Gather and Grow. Her understanding and knowledge of the seasons and living close to the land was exceptional, and not something we had heard in that perspective before. In our continued interest of evolving, we asked her to join our current Natural Horsemanship clinic, something she had never heard of before. Engaging with animals in an energetic way is something we continue to explore here, and we invite you to read on as Brianne explains her first interaction is this way too.
Learning the Language of Horses
Words by Brianne De La Cruz of Gather and Grow
Have you ever had an encounter with an animal that left you feeling changed? An experience that opened your mind to a whole new way of viewing the animal world? An interaction that unearthed a deeply buried sense of kinship between you and the animal? After learning the language of horses with Jeannie Parkinson at the Kinlands, I can honestly say that I have.
Before taking the horse clinic my only experience with horses had been riding tail-to-nose on a mountainous trail in Idaho. In that previous time, I’d been plopped onto the saddle of an enormous creature (whose name I’m not sure I was told) then sent off while the powerful legs below me moved. As a result I’ve always been cautiously interested in horses, but too intimidated to investigate further. That changed drastically after my encounter with the horses at the Kinlands. I am better for it.
The clinic began by entering the horse pen and learning how to introduce ourselves to the animals. Flora is the adorably spunky miniature horse filled with strong will. Dublin is the striking black female pony who will reflect back to you your exact disposition. Boogie is the gallant cream-colored steed who is calm, agreeable, yet considerate in his choices to connect.
Just like we’d introduce ourselves to a new person, we needed to let them approach us then gain their permission before touching them. Through subtle body language cues expertly taught to us by Jeannie we quickly learned how to read their approvals, permissions, and level of comfort with us. We were taught how to halter them, then lead them around the pen and direct their movements, all with subtle cues of our own.
I’ve always known that horses are sensitive creatures but I didn't know what that might look like while working with them. In this clinic I learned that horses are keenly aware of both the physical environment and the unseen energetic environment that circulates around them. They noticed, interpreted, and analyzed every detail of my movements and unspoken intentions. A shift in the direction of my hips communicated my interest either in connecting with them or something else. A step back or forward indicated my level of leadership. It communicated how firm I intended to hold a boundary, back down from one, or press theirs. Alternatively, a hand in motion created a field of energy in an isolated area that communicated my desire to lead them elsewhere. I also learned how to touch them and carry my presence in order to develop trust. Such subtleties and intuitive interpretations is the language of horses in a herd. It’s the language they speak with one another. This experience transported me directly into that herd dynamic and taught me how to develop a relationship with these magnificent creatures. In essence it was a beautiful lesson in understanding the energy I hold within my own body, reading another’s, and learning how to communicate with awareness on both plains.
After learning some basic communication skills we led Boogie to the large round pen where we had the opportunity to interact with him one-on-one unhaltered. We practiced our new skills in an effort to establish a deeper connection with one another. This is where the beautiful steed really revealed his unique personality to each of us in different ways. Although the entirety of the clinic was three hours long with a short break halfway through, I could have spent hours more with him in the pen. Aside from my house pets, I’ve never before felt so comfortable and connected with an animal. You can bet I'll be back again soon to spend time with him, and I’ll be bringing as many friends and family as I can wrangle, because I feel strongly that everyone deserves to gain this understanding of horses.
The truth is that no matter how many words I throw at you to help you understand how incredible this experience is, they will always fall short. Our spoken word will never come close to capturing the experience of interacting with horses and communing with them, simply because the language of horses is vastly more multifaceted than the human tongue. Their language isn’t spoken, it is experienced. Communicating with horses is easier to grasp than you might think. We are human and therefore animals ourselves. We carry the innate knowledge of this language in our bodies and we too communicate with one another physically and energetically, whether we’re conscious of it or not. Fluency in this animalistic language with awareness might be a little more deeply buried in some folks than others, but the horses taught me that it is undeniably present in each of our bodies. I don’t encourage you to take my word for it though. I urge you to unearth these language skills for yourself. Go to the Kinlands and connect with Boogie, Flora, and Dublin. Learn the subtle cues, relate to the horses and discover their unique personalities for yourself. Connect with your own intuitive energetic modes of communication and thank me later.
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