♔ KJRSOS Field of Study ☯ Communication Essentials


Kjrsos Discipline: Essentials of Communication

More than knowledge on how to ride, communication, is the foremost skill that every horseman needs.  It is sad that throughout the world, when a rider comes to an instructor no mention is made about learning to communicate.  Other than perhaps here is how you make him lift his feet so you can clean his feet.  That isn't communication that is you making him do something.  So much of our relationship with horses is about control.  Making them do what we want when we want them to do it.

Communication with our Horses Happens at Different Levels, in different ways.  It is more diverse and more rich than simply looking to see if the horse's ears are forward and back. 

To start with, communication implies there is more than one involved.  The one that is communicating and the one who is being communicated to.

Communication indicates a conversation.  A two-way conversation.  Something happening between the two involved even if we don't always understand that it is happening.

When we begin to look to communicate let alone try to understand what the horse is trying to tell us, we have set ourselves a difficult task. Miscommunication among humans is endemic. Miscommunication between two diverse species is somewhat more problematic.  Magnified by the problem that all of our communication to some extent is based upon assumptions.  We can't understand the communication if we don't understand the horses. If we misconstrue intent, if we misconstrue their perception, we misconstrue the communication.

So the essentials of communication has to balance between just learning about the horse in general so we begin to understand where they are coming from, their intent, how they think, how they react, and the basics of body language.  What our bodies are saying to one another.  If the intent of your communication does not jive with what your body language is saying, the message is garbled and does nothing but confuse the horse.

"While too often animals read our intent which is buried within our body language, position, action and gestures when that is mired or mixed with action that muddies the communication it completely throws out the connection and the communication between us and our dogs or any animal including humans." From Raising an Intelligent Dog

This discipline tries to balance between the effort to begin to understand our horses and basic physical body language of both horse and rider.

Highly Recommended

Supporting Class Living in Time


 ET call home. From the work of credible scientists working through SETI, trying to figure out the right way to communicate with other intelligent life forms, to a cowboy working with his horses, we are all involved in the process of interspecies communication. Without communication, we cannot have our horses understand our wishes, our desires, or even our commands. The first step always has to be communication.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case, or along the way, it is somehow forgotten. Trainers can be so focused on getting the horses to do something that they forget the need to put communication first in the horse-human relationship. Too often the emphasis is put into the role of humans as alphas, dominators and/or benign leaders, and in the process of trying to fit a role - they forget the first rule that all will be for nought, if the horse doesn’t understand. Communication always has to come first.

Meaningful communication relies on both species responding to the cues of the other.

In our search to understand and to speak ‘horse’, we may come across simplistic explanations of horse-human interaction. We are told that the horse that lifts his hind leg, cocks his hind fetlock, may or may not be warning you he is about to kick. Well, he might also be telling you that he is about to go to sleep. The difference between the two is huge, obviously. If in the effort of communication we cannot understand the horse, then any and all of our efforts to effect communication from the human to the horse is fraught with misunderstanding and lacks any kind of guideline, any kind of basis upon which to develop this communication.

 Given the tremendous breadth of horse-horse interactions, it is striking how few interactions are required to train elegant responses in our horses.  Unfortunately or fortunately for us depending on how you look at it, mostly because of the skill of the horse.  
Perhaps because of how simplistic the aids can become - put your outside leg back for canter for example - we lose our perspective of how very complex and subtle communication can be.
Too often we expect that communication is all about making the horse understand us. But true communication can only be two-way. We cannot expect communication to be only based on the horse understanding us. It has to be first about us understanding the horse. How can we begin to know if the horse understands us if we do not have the tools to understand the horse’s reaction if we don’t understand his language?