For me, this has nothing to do with the so-called equestrian sport. It is more comparable to meditation. I connect with the horse, feel it and simultaneously work on my self-perception. I ask questions like “How does the horse sense me?” Or “How does it react to me?” That’s how I learn whether I’m radiating good energy. Unfortunately, we tend to be run a program of activities throughout the day. We work, pursue goals and are ambitious until we cannot do it any longer and are so-called ‘burned out’. I am not surprised that “Burn Out” is now the number one health complaint. I was sick as well and working with horses has made a huge difference in my life and helped me to get out.
It is important that when the horse arrives for a start it is given enough rest and time to familiarize itself with everything. It is also possible that you go with the horse into an outdoor or indoor or riding arena and let it move freely until the horse seeks contact itself. In the beginning, a lot is just observation: How does it jump? How does it move? Does it enjoy it? Does it enjoy stretching? Or is it afraid when no other horse is around? These are questions you should ask yourself in the first week.
This requires a lot of time. Mostly you learn by observing and watching carefully, but also by feeling and listening. That usually teaches you more than a book on the topic. Often, I just sit in the arena or in the paddock and study the behavior of the herd – in my opinion, this is by far the best way to learn about horses.
First, it is important that the horse always sees me as a role model. The horse will start mirroring my energy, body language and behavior, basically everything that it recognizes in me. And the horse immediately senses whether I’m really mindful and attentive and whether my senses are sharpened. So, when I enter a room with the horse for the first time, I really consciously choose every step and every position so that the horse realizes: the way she moves is good, and I also understand it. With me, there are no uncontrolled movements, for example. That is why you should have a good understanding of your own self-perception, your own body awareness.
If I have been with a horse for three weeks and only as a role model – without training and any conditioning – then a horse will synchronize with me. And this connection is ultimately nothing more than a proof of friendship. When I get on the horse for the first time after this preparation time, the horse connects to me with all its senses. And from above, I can train the horse to do something new. I have often heard that there is no 100% certainty. But I am firmly convinced that there is. Because I know how to communicate with the horse, what it needs, that every second it asks me a question, which I can answer. And because I know it is only a minimal movement or change in position that the horse needs. Then a horse feels so safe that I always know what it is going to do next at the outset.
First and foremost, it is the body language we need to learn. What do my shoulders do? What tensions do I have in my muscles, in my whole body? I also need to know what thoughts I have right now. Because when the horse is in contact with me, then it will always observe how I react to what it sees and senses. And I have to respond exemplary to bring the animal back to be calm.
I have taken a lot of time for that. I really wanted to understand horses. This drive was so strong that I was ready to change everything for it. However, in the beginning, the horses made me understand that there was a certain tension within me, that I had fears within me that you could not see from the outside because they were buried deep inside me. In my everyday life, I could pretend and make my surroundings believe that everything was alright, but in our body biochemical changes are happening that will tell the horse senses very well and immediately notices when something is wrong. The horse perceives immediately if something is wrong. And if we put on a mask and act casual as always, the horse will expose us.
For me, horses are the best personality coaches. No psychologist and no coach and no psychoanalyst will face me so truthfully, without any judgment and impartial. That is because people have developed their own values. However, this is not neutral, but a subjective view of things. Everyone goes through their own history of development, has a different destiny, different talents, and everyone has to find their own way. The horse always lets you be as you are. But it also shows you when something is not in balance. That is why for me there is no better coach than a horse.
Chi Horsing is the essence of body language, horse psychology and empathy. I teach people to learn body language first and foremost. Today everyone knows what a horse thinks when it flattens its ears. But when it kicks with his hind legs to the left or makes certain movements with his front legs, then all of this also says something about the animal. And whether it positions itself behind, next to or in front of me, for example – these are very clear statements and behaviors that are important for every further step.
I also need to understand how horses learn at all. What is important for a horse, what are its needs? Because a horse will always look for connection where it has the feeling that someone serves it. When a horse realizes that you only weaken it, then it does not want to be with you. But if a horse senses that you strengthen it, support it, and are there for its development and growth, then it seeks to be close to me. The goal of this psychology and knowledge of it must always be to serve horses – even if the animal wants to be low-ranking because it has no guts for the top, or if I support it and educate it so it can rise in rank. For me, that means horse psychology, and according to this principle I work differently with each horse.
It’s important to feel my way into the horse – with every exercise, every step. When I am with the animal, when I go for a walk or run into the hall on the long rope, I am always a role model. At the same time, I feel it my way into the horse in everything I ask of the horse. This is like the meditation I mentioned at the beginning of our conversation. In addition, I am thinking how it would feel for me if something specific were required from me. If I consider all these things, then the horse will always choose me, an will do so voluntarily. It is always motivated and fresh in the mind because it relies on communication with me and will always look for me as its mentor.