We all communicate energetically whether we’re conscious of it or not. Even between people only a small percentage of communication is through the spoken word. One study at UCLA indicated that up to 93 percent of human communication effectiveness is determined by non-verbal cues. Or to put it another way, only 7% of human communication is verbal!
Imagine how much more attuned the horse is to non-verbal signals and how important body language, emotion and energy are to horses who communicate without words.
What is energetic communication?
Everything in the universe is made of vibrating energy and transmits energy according to its state. We radiate energy at different frequencies depending on our:
- Physical condition
- Body Language
In simple terms, when we feel happy our thoughts and emotions are positive so the energy we transmit has a high vibrational frequency. We’re on a high! When we feel sad, our thoughts and emotions transmit energy with a low vibrational frequency. We feel low.
Have you ever entered a room where people were arguing and felt tension in the atmosphere? It makes you feel uncomfortable, doesn’t it?
Have you walked into a party where there was laughter and everyone was enjoying themselves? Didn’t your spirits lift in response?
When you arrive at work and your boss is in a bad mood, does it put a damper on your day?
When a friend has exciting news, don’t you feel excited too?
These are examples of how we receive energetic messages that determine our response to each situation we encounter.
Can you think of other examples when you have been affected by other people’s energy- situations where you have felt light, positive energy and where you have felt heavy, negative energy? This is what energetic communication is all about. We are all intuitively aware of other people’s moods and emotions, through the vibrational frequency of the energy they are radiating.
How our energy affects horses
“Horses infuse emotional meaning into every body movement. They pour this vital, emotional energy – chi – into every gesture and glance, lending them the nuances of tone, accent, and value. By sensitizing themselves to chi, horses can not only convey the meaning of what they want to share with other members of the herd but can also feel the palpably sharp energy emitted by a stalking predator, eyes locked intently on its prey. Evolution has driven equids to the farthest limits of nonverbal, right-sided brain function.”
From “Zen Mind, Zen Horse: The Science and Spirituality of Working with Horses” by Allan J. Hamilton, MD (available from Amazon)
Chi is the Chinese term for universal energy. Every encounter with horses involves energetic communication. Our energy has a dramatic effect on the behavior of horses and being able to read the energy of the horse is an invaluable guide to their behavior and well-being and an invaluable tool when riding and handling your horse.
We are constantly transmitting subliminal messages to our horses who intuitively recognize our emotional state, regardless of how we might be acting. This is why horses are so successful in revealing suppressed emotions in Equine Assisted Therapy. So, if you arrive at the barn after a bad day at the office or a row with your partner and problems or arguments are running through your head, even if you’re smiling on the outside and pretending everything’s ok, your horse will pick up the negative energy and become tense and wary.
Horses mirror our emotional state, so if you are agitated, you create agitation in your horse. Let’s run through the scenario of non-verbal communication listed above to illustrate how this works:
You arrive at the barn in a bad mood, feeling annoyed or angry (emotions) and your thoughts are preoccupied with everything that went wrong during the day. You feel worn out by the day’s events (physical condition/vitality). The intention running through your mind is anger towards whoever you feel was responsible for giving you a hard time. You are irritable and short-tempered (attitude) and your movements are abrupt and jerky (predatory body language).
It puts me on edge just to write about it, so imagine how your horse feels faced with all this negative energy! Let’s look at how your horse reacts to your behavior.
When you walk up to his stall, he puts his ears back, turn his back to you and retreats to the back of the stall. When you try to put his halter on he walks away from you and then when he allows you to approach him he throws his head up which makes it difficult for you to reach him. As you lead him out of his stall he rushes through the doorway. When you tie him to groom him, he won’t stand still and when you try to pick out his hooves it’s a struggle to get him to lift his feet for you. He jumps around when you tack him up, won’t stand still for you to mount and then spooks at everything on your ride.
What a nightmare – and just the opposite of what you need after a bad day! It seems like everything is conspiring against you and now your horse is giving you a hard time too. Why?
Your horse is first and foremost a prey animal and has survived as a species by being alert to dangerous predators, ready to run at the first sign of danger. You (as a human) are a predator, and when you are feeling angry and moving aggressively, to the horse you are a predator in attack mode!
The bad news is: you are responsible for his behavior. The good news is: you can change his behavior by changing your behavior.
As you learn Energetic Horsemanship you will become a master communicator with your horse and an influential leader (which, incidentally, will have a powerful impact on every aspect of your life).
Jan Moore is The Success Alchemist and creator of Energetic Horsemanship where she teaches conscious horsemanship based on love, leadership, confidence, and compassion for the benefit of both the horses and their human carers.