It’s probably just me but, I find that, at times, what I think I’m saying to someone is not what they are hearing. I take full responsibility for the miscommunication and any misunderstanding that results. I’m coming from a set of perceptions and experiences based on the life I’ve lived. The people I’m talking to often come from a very different set of experiences that cause their perceptions to be very different than mine. Our paradigms are different so, when we are talking about a particular subject, a word or string of words may have a very different meaning to each of us.
Imagine how the horse feels! The young horse is just getting exposed to the confusing world of humans. The older horse comes with a set of experiences that make the human a good thing or bad thing. Both horses are trying to hear what we are saying and respond in a way that makes them feel okay. Humans have a tendency to do too much which activates a defense mechanism in the horse. We also ask the horse to do things that are unnatural to them in their world but, that are necessary for them to thrive in ours. Given all of that, it’s amazing our horses hear anything we are trying to say to them.
We’ve helped several horses over the past couple of months that were having trouble coping with the horse trailer. The horse trailer is one of the most unnatural places for a horse to want to go. Yet, if we offer them a chance to follow us into one, often times they will go and stay and cope. When they don’t, things can get bad very quickly. I think that putting a horse into a trailer is one of the best places to test how good our feel, timing and balance really are with that particular horse. When we think our horse is as light and soft and willing as it can be we should try and load him in a 2 horse straight load trailer to ask him what he thinks!
Avoiding a bad experience at the horse trailer is the best way to avoid having trouble at the horse trailer. Just like the best way to keep a horse from bucking is to never let him learn how. If we recognize how unnatural it is for a horse to load into a trailer and do things to help him have enough confidence in us to try, we have a chance. Sometimes it’s as simple as being aware of what bothers a particular horse and what makes him comfortable. We will have the best chance of having our horse hear what we are trying to say if we pay attention to how he responds to the offers we make and then adjust those offers accordingly.
We were successful helping the horses we worked with get more comfortable loading and unloading into and out of the trailer. We were also successful in helping the horse owners better understand their horses and how to help them through the rough spots that can appear with or without a trailer involved. It’s a good day when you walk away thinking, “they actually heard what I was trying to say!”