“But horses can’t talk,” they say. “How can they be teachers?”
The reality is that so much of what we communicate is done without talking. In fact, many of our most profound moments are precipitated by an image, the tremble of a lip, the soulful deep gaze from the eyes of a loved one, and other forms of non-verbal communication.
One of the most significant researchers into the art of non-verbal communication was Dr. Albert Mehrabian, author of the book “Silent Messages.”
He calculated that 7 percent of any messages are conveyed through words, and the remaining 93 percent of communication are non-verbal elements, including vocal (that are not formed words), facial expressions, gestures, body postures, etc.
This statistic prompted our new book about HorseDream Canada and Horse Dream International titled "Leadership Canada", available on the market later this year.That leads us back to how horses communicate with us, and teach us things.
The growth and development of horses has always been linked closely to the growth and development of human beings and their civilization development.
Ever since the Stone Age, signs of people and horses are linked through evolutionary history as far back as 50 million years ago. For example, images prominently display humans and horses together in cave paintings.
Horses are no longer our primary source of transportation or essential for easing the burden of preparing fields for planting.Yet we relate to them anew for what they can teach us about how to survive with them in our increasingly complex world.
All animals of prey survive on their ability to sense both danger and nourishment from their environment. They use their well-honed senses of hearing, smell, vision, and body awareness to stay safe. They are ever vigilant.
We can relate to them and learn from them using non-verbal communication, which we share the capacity to do and they have become masters at. That is because horses are animals of prey, unlike humans.
A horse's existence could be said to be amazing examples of mindfulness. They live entirely in each moment, fully conscious of their surrounding area. They do not judge; they accept their world as it is. They do not seek revenge or fake sincerity. They do not kiss any corporate end, or weigh and measure their lives on scales of “to do” and “done” lists. A day is a day is a day and no more.
In the process, the horse’s brain is open and receptive to your communication with it. They will watch you with all senses primed and pick up their cues from you. The slate is clean when you approach them; if you do not communicate a clear and good intent, they will fill it up with other emotions they see hidden within you.
Their keenness to interpret your body language and the messages you do not express is astounding. All those things contribute to making them amazing prey animals and herd animals serves to give us feedback on how they are interpreting our message.
Horses do hear your words, but how they respond reflects very little their interpretation of your spoken words. Instead, it is their response to what they interpret of the non-verbal messages you send them.
Many of us are unaware that when we experience any emotion, whether it is fear or love or aggression, there is a physical symptom or sensation that accompanies it. We think we hide it well; how could this non-verbal beast in front of us know what we are really thinking?
Sometimes the horse picks up what you are hiding and it is to that that they respond. They sense your sharp intake of breath, your facial expression, your touch, and your non-verbal sounds, and they reflect these non-verbal ques back to you as their response.
HorseDream Canada, founded by Susan Wilson, provides high impact, quality leadership and team development experiences for individuals, teams, leaders and companies. It is part of an internationally renowned Horse Assisted Education Program provided transformative learning experiences around the world. HorseDream Canada is a division of I DO BUSINESS. Inc., a social purpose business. For more information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Watch for our new book, Leadership 93/7 coming soon!