A few years ago I noticed something very special with my horse Niki, who then stood in a stall for about 3 hours every evening (she was fed a special kind of dried grass before she joined the group again at night).
I was busy cleaning up the yard when I noticed that every time I passed Niki’s stall she walked to the automatic drinker at the back of the stall.
I thought that was strange. The automatic drinker in that stall had been broken for months. Niki knew that. She also knew that there was always a bucket of water in the corner beside her hay. She was already used to this for a long time.
At a certain moment, I stopped at the stable to better observe what she was doing and again Niki walked to the automatic drinker. She pushed her nose into it. No water of course. Then she looked back at me. Then back to the drinker. She’s thirsty, I thought, but there was a bucket of water in her stable.
I kept looking, wondering how long it would take before she would drink from her bucket as usual. I remember saying, “You have water in your bucket, Niki,” and I pointed over the door to the bucket which I couldn’t see from the other side of the door.
However, she looked back at me a few more times, then again at the automatic drinker. Then she finally came in my direction, where the bucket was. I thought, “Well, she understands, now she’s going to drink from the bucket.”
But no, she went to the corner where the bucket was standing, lowered her head a little toward the bucket, then raised her head again, looked at me for a few seconds, walked to the automatic drinker again, looked at it, looked at me again and walked to the bucket again
I thought, “Would it?”
I opened the door, went inside, looked at the bucket and saw the bucket was empty …
Why is this so special?
Niki wanted to let me know that she was thirsty. By walking towards the automatic drinker every time I passed, she was trying to get my attention.
When that failed she tried to draw my focus on the drinker by looking at me first and then pushing the drinker. After that, she tried to bring my attention to the drinker by looking at me and then to the drinker, and by repeating that several times.
In itself, nothing special. That’s what horses do when they are thirsty and the automatic drinker is not working,
But this was different. Because Niki was sure that the drinker didn’t work, she knew that she got her water in a bucket. Yet she did not immediately go to the bucket to show that she was thirsty.
Why not? Wouldn’t that be much simpler?
I have thought about it and am convinced that there can only be 1 reason: I could not see the bucket myself. It was behind the wall. So she couldn’t let me look at the bucket. She knew that.
That’s why she tried to make it clear through the broken drinker that her bucket was empty. She tried to get my attention on water. Because in both there’s water. Or no water in this case.
When she noticed I didn’t understand, she adjusted her approach. She ‘connected’ the bucket to the automatic drinker by drawing my attention to the bucket and then bringing it back to the drinker.
Isn’t that fantastic?!
Horses can really communicate in a conscious way. Their communication is more than reflexive and instinctive (yet some still claim this. If you come across such a trainer: run the other way as quickly as possible).
Horses are able to take others into account, solve problems and bring ideas. They can achieve a goal through a plan, just like Niki did to show me that I had to refill her bucket.
Every horse in the world possesses this skill. But many horses stop communicating in this way because they have learned from experience that the people around them don’t listen to it anyway.
These horses stop communicating at this level. They disconnect. That is deadly for the relationship with your horse. A strong connection, a strong relationship, requires clear and honest communication.
That means listening as much as talking. Capturing the subtle signals. Ensuring that your horse feels heard and seen.
If you to want to have a strong connection and a clear and honest communication with your horse, then I invite you to join the Horsefulness Liberty Training Program.
People from all over the world have done it already, with amazing results.
From the moment you know how to communicate with your horse in the way I teach you in my program you will start to see wonderful changes: in the relationship with your horse, in the way you communicate and listen to your horse, in the way your horse communicates to you.
The only thing you need to do is open yourself up to this unique and different way of being with horses and practise what I teach you inside the program.
Because communication only works for those who work at it!
Let’s work on it together 🙂