I wanted to blog my reflections on Principle One:
Foster a more equal relationship, based on trust and respect, in which we learn from each other.
"I believe we can forge a new kind of relationship with a horse based on a greater degree of equality than most people have thought possible. Horses themselves form very close relationships that can last a lifetime. I want the same: I want to reach the stage where they don't drive me from their space and I don't drive them from mine. I have to convince them that the space belongs to both of us."
- Gallop to Freedom
What this idea means to me:
Allowing natural pauses in my "conversation" with Guinness (ie; make a request of him and then allow him to chew on it a moment before responding). Expecting snappy everything all of the time feels like me yelling at him. He can tell how urgent something is by my energy - I don't have to always be loud and demanding. Threatening him doesn't work. I can use a cue that appears to be a driving game, but I know that unless he agrees with my idea, it would take a h*** of a lot to phase 4 him when he is in LBI mode. (You guys should see what he takes from the other horses without giving an inch!!) I'm saving the true driving for resolving safety issues such as "get out of my space NOW." The more polite that I am with him, the more polite he is with me.
Being open to communication and exchange of ideas with my horse. Not monopolizing the conversation. Exploring different ideas of what communication can look like: marker sounds, verbal cues, gestures, energy, body language, breath, imagery, etc. Sometimes *he* chooses our topics of discussion - where he would like me to scratch, where he would prefer to graze, when he rather me ride than lead him, what object he'd rather play with, and more.
Treating him like the sentient being that he is. Not that he could take care of himself in the artificial environment that people have contrived, but neither is he a slave that exists only to do my bidding. His thoughts and feelings have value too.
Taking the time it takes - we have plenty of it. I plan to have this horse for the rest of his life and Rockies can easily live 30+ years..