When I had the opportunity to add horses to my life at the age of 30, I jumped at the chance. I had always been a farm girl at heart although I grew up in the city. I think I got the “animal lover” gene from my mother’s father. When he married my grandmother, he drove the wagon for the local creamery and had three draft horses. When he married grandma, he couldn’t afford her and three horses, so he had to sell one.
When I married a rancher’s son and was given my first horse at around 30, I felt as if a piece of my soul had come home. I learned that my way of slamming through life was no longer going to work. I needed to find a way to communicate with a sentient being that did not speak English. I needed to create a connection between us that overrode the differences between us.
I learned to slow down, to become more observant. To pick up the clues that something I was doing was affecting someone else negatively. I took those lessons into the workplace and became a much more effective team leader.
I learned lessons about authenticity. There isn’t a horse alive that worries that its saddle makes their butt look big. They may spook at a piece of paper, but don’t pretend it didn’t bother them, and quickly get back to grazing calmly rather than revisiting the momentary fear.
I learned lessons about clarity in communication. When the boss mare flattens her ears, shows her teeth and shakes her head at another herd member, they move. If they don’t, she may turn her back end and threaten to kick. If that doesn’t work, she may kick. But she doesn’t start with the kick.
If you look around, you will see communication everywhere. I invite you to watch for methods that work for others (either two legged or four), and experiment with how those methods might work for you.
Originally published in the shared blog