Western Riding Instructor (Retired)
Human beings use 20,000 spoken words to communicate with other human beings. We need far fewer words to communicate effectively with horses.
Horses use a language of gestures, a sign language, expressive and complex.
They don’t waste words. They live in the present so don’t need to talk about the past or the future. They accept what life presents to them. They run away from it, fight it, or go with it, but seldom feel the need to talk about it.
They just want an easy life.
To begin to be at one with our horses, we need to be more like them.
Young horses learn horse language from older horses. By trial and error, they find the appropriate response to any given gesture. When they get it right, the gesturing will stop. When they get it wrong, the gesturing will become more animated. When they argue, they can expect the gestures to become increasingly aggressive.
Novice, and not so novice horses, learn our cueing language in the same way. When we apply pressure of some kind to their minds and bodies, they try everything they can think of to get us to stop. By trial and error, they find the correct response and we remove the pressure. Through time they learn that for any one pressure we might apply there is only one response that will get us to stop applying that pressure. All of the other responses they may think of are a waste of their time and energy.
Removing the pressure is not, as some people think, a reward.
It is the answer, “Yes, that’s what I want”.
For many years John has taught the language that horses and their Western riders must understand if they are ever to move as one.
In 2019 John retired from the business of Riding Instruction but is still willing to
help people with their horsemanship by offering advice on the language of communication, training techniques and programmes.
He will also encourage like-minded instructors, trainers and experts to run clinics, seminars and demonstrations at Blackford Glen so keep an eye on the Events Page on this website.
You can reach him via this website’s contact page.