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The sound of wings

Meeting free horses with Gerhard Stephane Wattine, Rob Pliskin, Olga Platonova, Berenika Bratny, Agata Wiatrowska and…

Authentic and consistent communication

A meeting with non-verbal communication experts. Searching for cohesion at the level of emotion, thought, body and spirit.

Conscious leadership

Leadership is constant learning and drawing of conclusions. Expertise and what we know – it is not enough here. A vision is important. Questions are more important than answers. Noticing instead of knowing.

Horse-Sense means “common sense”

Delivering solution with respect to history and opening for new. Seeing connection to reality as the first step of every way.

International know-how and an original approach

We co-create an international network of facilitators. We conduct comprehensive training for facilitators.

Ośrodek

Recognition Respect Authenticity

 

Horses as trainers – horses with a space to demonstrate their “horsonality”

Most of the people who encounter horses as trainers have impression that these are not ordinary horses. They have heart-warming inner beauty, power, and independence. Depending on the horse’s personality and their life style, their training lasts from several weeks to a year. It is the result of their relation with facilitator. In HorseSense Agata Wiatrowska is in charge of building relations with horses-trainers; her presence make horses to offer additional developmental space to participants. Below we presented several spheres crucial in the development of horses-trainers.

 

Horses-trainers need:

 

Ability and space to say “no” 

It is probably the most characteristic feature of horses-trainers and the area required for a good performance in this role. A horse-trainer can say “no” as far the physical contact (e.g., show they want to be touched or not) or interaction ways are concerned. The ability to say “no” by horses is their basic tool as trainers. It is important not to mislead saying “no” with the horse’s protective pose resulting in resistance, developed in the contact with people (many of the so-called “recreational” horses strike this pose). Saying “no” paradoxically requires large trust from a horse. The ability develops with the relation with a facilitator whose presence during the programme is a guarantee for a horse that they will not get reprimanded.

 

Emotional openness

Many horses after some trainings built walls around them. At first glance, they are co-operative and obedient; however, they have put some mask on to protect their “horsonality” and not to let any human being in. It is said that people wear masks and horses are always natural and true in their relations. My experience tells a different story. Horses exposed to interactions difficult for them to accept activate adaptation mechanisms and learn what is required from them. As a consequence, they do not risk showing who they are. In less severe cases, some therapeutic procedures allow to get to their essence. Horses “with long-term baggage” hardly ever open up. If they start to trust, they get back to their “horsonality”. Horses with emotional walls built around them are usually cute at first glance; however, merit effects of workshops with such horses are completely different.

 

Horse sense

The term “horse sense”, as well as the name and vision of our organisation, refer to the common sense and worldly wisdom. Our developmental programmes are about activating horse sense and wisdom in people. For horses to be able to share their horse sense, they should have one. Horse sense in horses is developed by growing up and living in a herd – the infinite source of horse sense and horse personality – where horses are exposed to interactions with other horses, leadership, and relations with older mares, an older stallion or a gelding. Another crucial element is the contact with nature and the ability to decide to a large extent how to spend their time (with whom, when, and where). The broader horse sense in a horse, the higher quality of the horse assisted developmental programmes. Horse sense is an area which cannot be covered up even by the best relation with a facilitator.

 

Basing on the potential of horses

When interacting with horses a facilitator assists them in activating their wisdom and potential. And we do not mean physical potential, but the potential understood as the expression of who they are. I do not concentrate on what they could do better or what to improve. I accompany them (as I accompany people) to make them stronger, inspire them, “wake them up” – when I feel it is needed; when it was lost by inadequate socialisation with other horses or types of relations they were exposed to. When going along this path I heavily depend on Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling, who noted down some of his observations in his book titled “What horses reveal”.

 

Replacing training with being in a relation 

Training is concentrated on future effects. It has some aim and plan. Training is about improvement. It assumes that the current state is imperfect. Being in relation is about dialogue, exchange, and learning from one another. Both of them demonstrate some resemblance; however, the devil is in the detail. E.g., in one of my experience I use a mat, and horses can respond to it as they wish (sniff it, step on it, not step on it). No expectations here, no plan. Depending on what is happening we decide if this is a proper element in workshops with participants or not. There is no intention that a horse should act in any particular way. If it was, e.g. encourage horses not to be afraid of and get used to a mat, then we would talk about training.

 

Initial analysis of personalities of horses and building relations with them belong to the facilitator’s tasks. Relations cannot be transferred. It means that no other person can prepare horses than facilitators themselves. It is a lot of work but it gives enormous satisfaction and provides development of a facilitator at the same time. Below we presented abilities, attitudes, and knowledge areas required to support horses and build relations with them.

 

Facilitators need:

 

Knowledge on physical and emotional needs of horses

Nowadays many horses live in the conditions created by humans. Humans are responsible for creating conditions which meet the needs of animals. As far as development of horse sense is concerned, these conditions are even more demanding and gruelling than in other horse-related areas. They include the access to a stable herd where horses spend most of their time, access to large space and food (straw ad libitum), supportive relations with human beings, and no psychological and physical violence, etc. 

 

Awareness of their own emotions and needs

Emotions are the basic way to communicate with horses-trainers. Their awareness helps creating well-balanced relations, pretty much like it is with people. In our relations we are inspired by the Rosenberg’s nonviolent communication. This approach enables working over oneself and one’s relations. To cut the long story short, it is about recognition of differences between observations and opinions, emotions and alleged emotions (frequent problem in relations with horses), needs and strategies, and requests and demands. Rearranging these terms and their application in practice change the horse’s attitude to a given person.

 

Relations with horses-trainers are the foundations of the Horse Assisted Education and our working style. We are honoured by what we get back from horses in return. Every meeting, every workshop with them is an adventure and experience moving deeply the grounds of our existence. What is more, it is fascinating to meet new horses and observe how they flourish.