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Being Aware of Your Energy Around Horses

psychology Dec 28, 2023
Horses with two different energy levels

There's a meme that makes its way around social media every now and then. It says: 

"Life with horses: Only one of you gets to freak out at a time, and it's never your turn."

 

While it's based on just making a joke, it is truly grounded in reality. There are very very few situations in which you can bring your energy up to an electric level, and have it benefit your horse. 

More often than not, your horse is needing you to be the calming, reassuring, confident, cool-headed part of the relationship. Horses are prey animals after all. They will react as such. So when we need our horses to calm down and focus, we need to make sure that we are influencing them with our own actions as well. 

The rider that is high energy, abrupt, loud, and hyperactive will tend to wind-up the horses, make them tight, make them flighty, and so much more. 

The rider that is calm and steady, focuses on keeping their energy level down, this rider will tend to influence the horse to relax a bit more, be less worried, and feel more secure.

Now, this doesn't just go for time in the saddle. This goes for the minute you step onto the property. If you're frantic and rushed when you go get your horse out of their pasture/stall, they will immediately pick up on that.

So use this influence you have in your favor. *Especially* with high-strung horses. 

For example, not that I am high-energy around Cayenne by any means, but when I go to get my new 5-year old out (Charlie), I make sure to calm myself down even further. He is still on edge from his trip, and probably has a higher energy level baseline to begin with. 

Compare the two photos of Cayenne in the picture above. These were taken on completely separate days. Which time does he look like he needs me to help focus a little extra attention on being the calming partner, and which time does he seem pretty calm on his own?

 

So how do I go about bringing my energy down?

First and foremost is to be aware of it. Make a conscious effort to be aware and to control your energy level.

Closing your eyes and taking some deep, slow breaths typically will help. 

But it's also how you interact around them. Are you frantically brushing or touching them? Are you moving quickly around them? Are you petting them with high energy or low energy?

For example, with Charlie, he has been super on-edge about getting his face touched. So normally while I might pet/scratch a horse's muzzle when I'm near it, I have taken even another step back in energy levels and just rested my hand there instead.

I also try to be a little more deliberate and slow in my movements around him. No frantic rushing about. No hurried actions. 

 

Of course, you don't always need to go to this extreme. Like I mentioned above, I don't have to focus on this as much with Cayenne or Jack, although I do still check in and make sure I'm not going overboard with my energy level regardless. But my natural energy level is around where it needs to be with them.

But with a horse that is naturally (or situationally) high strung, you need to deliberately focus on it and make a conscious effort to contribute to your horse's calmness, not exacerbate their anxiety.

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