My Name is Kedra Holderman and you may have met me if you came to the Beyond the Waterhole Rituals clinic in December 2012. I am an apprentice in Carolyn’s Method. I have 5 wild mustangs who reinforce daily how necessary it is for me to be a leader, no matter what my mood is or the events of my day.
I have a challenge for you!
It is a simple challenge, however it will require a certain amount of self-awareness. Through many observations I have come to realize that often times, as humans interacting with horses, we allow our gift of speech to become a false leader. What I mean by this is we have a habit of raising our voices thinking that it will help us to be heard if we are louder. This is a false sense of security, or in the horse’s case leadership.
On the same token, we baby our horses in an attempt to keep things peaceful and serene. If when you work with horses you experience being startled, confused, flustered, or possibly a bit annoyed, this challenge and Carolyn’s last blog may benefit you tremendously!
Here it goes….
For one week DO NOT speak when interacting with your horse. Use only your body language to convey what it is that you want. Practice this in all interactions with your horse. I expect you will notice some behavior changes, these slight changes may make all the difference in the world.
Some of us talk to our horses like they’re human; we share our secrets and our hopes, as well as our fears. Others of us however may not be so mushy. Our horses know us inside and out, in spite of what we say to them. Whether it’s your deepest secret or you’ve told him “good boy”, sometimes it is a lie to subconsciously make yourself feel better. Your mouth said “good boy”, however every cell in your body may be radiating annoyance. Or you’ve both been startled deeply and you think you’ve kept your cool, but your horse knows you almost lost your boots.
They have survived thousands of years of doing this very thing, reading body language. This simple thing is absolutely pivotal to a wild horse’s survival and every horse, no matter the breed, is born with this instinct.
Those of you who came to Carolyn’s clinic in December will remember that not only do I have 5 mustangs but they are also all very young. A mistake my mother and I did not realize we were making. For the first 2 years my understanding of being a leader and my practical application of the concept were two very different things. Carolyn’s method helped me to see what I was missing. It started with seeing the power of the “Pause” demonstrated by Robin Gates at a clinic I attended in Ashland, OR. Oh my! I was inspired. It’s been a year since my “AH HA” moment and I recently had another that I want to share with you.
My mom and I arrived at our stable after a long two days of rain. The horses had been in during the rain, however on this day we let them out into our large arena. They were running, bucking, squealing, and generally causing havoc, as any sensible herd of mustangs would do upon realizing its dinnertime. I turned to my mom and said, “I don’t feel comfortable moving them right now so lets just go in, walk around and take some territory away from them.” When I say take territory what I mean by this is if I am walking in one direction and 1 of the 5 horses attempts to walk towards me, or generally interact with me, I calmly use my body language (painting a picture to them that they are unwelcome in this specific spot).
Using only our body language our herd calmed down within 5 minutes and we were able to halt and move them safely while maintaining our role as leaders. A job, that on occasion can be extremely difficult due to exaggerated levels of excitement, was quickly transformed into an enjoyable experience.
I am not asking any of you to give up talking to your horses. I’m just hoping to make some of you aware of how much you allow your voice to communicate without using body language. Sometimes we also use our voices to say one thing when our body language is proving otherwise. I suggest attempting this for one week. I would like to hear all about it.
What I would like to add to what Kedra has written is that there is an optimum time to speak, listen and act in your communication with horses. What Kedra suggests is a lesson to bring more power to your body language and the timing of your leadership communication. Experimenting with this exercise I’m sure will help you to evolve your horsemanship. For those of you who use your voice allot as a training aid, it will be interesting to see what it is like to try using body language alone and what you discover about yourself and the benefits this might bring to your training program.
I use my voice to communicate with horses more than most people
When I speak to horses, they understand and most of the time they will follow my lead. This language arose from me learning how to first communicate with horses in silence. This silence brought me an awareness of how to connect and communicate with horses in the same way that Kedra is asking us to do in the exercise she proposes.
When you use your voice, it can be a voice from the heart that a horse would naturally follow. It comes from a balance between the pause of silence, listening, speaking, and acting; there is a rhythm in it. It is like music that you are creating together. But the voice can also be a hindrance to you in that you use less body language, instinct and feel. You use the left side of your brain, that is built on logic, so feel and intuition take a back seat. You can also get into bribing a horse, which points out to him that you have no connection and your leadership is in question.
Connecting with the true nature of a horse
To do this you will need to become more alive. By not using your voice, you can give more attention to your body language. By upping your energy and focus, you will direct your horse more effectively, which in turn, will give him a clearer understanding of what you are asking him to do.
When a person talks too much, and it’s ineffective, it is usually because rather than focusing on the relationship and connection, they are focused on the performance. Connection should always come first in any interaction.
Chatter to gain performance does not work
It is an indication that you are giving up your leadership through trying to manipulate your horse. Horses lose respect and attention when a person is always talking. Kedra wants to help you to move past this bump in the road that is created by wanting to control a horse through manipulation, begging, cajoling and bribing a horse to perform. Approaching a horse in this way, you lose his interest.
By begging, bribing and cajoling, you are skirting around what you need to be focused on, which is taking on an active leadership role. Once you choose to practice silence, it moves you into the world of horses. In a short time, you will gain a new personal power where a language will arise that your horse will listen to and he will follow your lead.
If your horse is not performing from your voice with just a few words, this is a sign to find another way to relate to him
When I start training a horse on a new behavior, or working with a new horse, I do not speak to him because words would only get in the way. I am looking to catch the rhythm of the horse and develop the first language of the horse. This way I develop a personal connection with him. The connection is always more important than the performance. As the horse becomes more advanced in the lesson we’re working on, I can then speak and what I say has meaning. When you start practicing your leadership using only your body language, in the beginning, it may seem crude and less effective, but truth be known, you are becoming more aware of what your horse is not doing because you are not covering up his lack of response with constant chatter.
When you use your body language you want to get a response in a timely fashion, whether it is what you want or not, even if you break the connection with him. You must get him to respond either with a “yes” or a “no” to keep the respect of your horse. Waiting too long for his answer will cause a horse to no longer follow your lead.
Do not be afraid to break the connection
This will create more willingness in your horse, if you allow him to respond as he chooses. The reason for this is that he sees you as the leader and sees that you are not going to force him to do something. Your horse will respect and trust you more and a deeper bond will form.
It is ok to be clumsy
It will smooth out, like letting a clutch out on a car for the first time. At first, the car might lurch forward and stall out. With a little bit of practice, you will find it easier to shift through the gears. No matter how crude you feel, if you stay with it, you will soon enter a world that is what you were looking for the whole time. Effort and stepping up your courage to allow your horse to respond as he chooses, with practice, will help you to open the door to communicating naturally with all living things.
Horses want a leader
They want a leader that will suggest, direct, influence and know when to lead and when to allow. Horses do not want to be manipulated through begging, bribing and cajoling. These are not leadership interactions. Knowing this one point will cut down the chatter. When your body language alone is followed and understood by your horse, this is when your voice will support your leadership.
What Kedra is suggesting will help you to improve your leadership approach with horses. Please let me know how it goes and stay safe at all times. I am here to answer any questions you might have.
Linda Salinas in NC, USA is offering an Introduction to the Waterhole Rituals clinic to introduce people to my method. I am proud to support her work with horses through my method. This year she is working on getting certified in my method through the clinics she is offering from her amazing facility with her beautiful herd of horses as your teachers. Check it out and good luck to you Linda!!
** click on the flyer above to view a printable PDF **
Be on the lookout for new horse and human sightings and may the horse be with you. Have a great weekend.
For those of you following my mother’s progress, I have an update for you.
A couple of things happened that are to me very exciting. My mother has had great difficulty in getting out of a chair, not because she is weak, but because she has forgotten how. Her legs won’t straighten to be able to stand. If I ask her to get up she cannot. I need to help her. I also noticed that even though she cannot talk to me about her needs, she still laughs in all the right places.
So that got me thinking. I don’t really know where it came from but I tried this and it worked. I asked my mother to please go into the kitchen and get me a glass of water and she did and she had no problem standing. So if the context is given to her in a certain way, I can empower her more. I explained this to her and then I was able to say to her stand up or let’s go to the bathroom and she is able to do that.
The other magic that has happened, has come from Teddie. Teddie is on all kinds of programs to eat right and put into her body things that are very healthy and she commented to me about this water she is drinking that she felt was hydrating her body. My mother at night must get up and go to the bathroom every hour on the hour. Upon giving her this water, it stopped that and now she only gets up three times at night rather than eight times. It is just amazing. My mother now is much more relaxed.
We are still keeping up with the exercises, that you saw in the last video, but what is new is that we have added my mother leading exercises that she wants me to do and she is very good at it. We will be videoing that soon.
So that’s what is happening here at the Ranch. If you’re interested, the name of the water is Qure 9.5+ph or +essentia 9.5ph, depending on the store.
Thank you again for your support, your interest and maybe I am bringing some information to you that will help you with your loved ones as well.
Thank you and warmly,