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How to Build a Relationship Through Space With Our Horses

We had an incredible interview with Mary Anderson, from Huckleberry Hollow, a Relational Horsemanship Specialist about understanding and becoming aware of space and how we can avoid imposing ourselves on our horses.

One of the hugest things we can do for our horse is as simple as this: take a step back. Physically, with your body, take a step back and give your horse space. Horses require up to 15 feet of personal space to feel comfortable in a situation. We only require 2 feet. The fact that they let us come into their space is incredible, as that requires HUGE amounts of trust and respect AND as a prey animal, they trust us enough to come into their ‘bubble’. We often feel like we have more control when we are right beside, or we are in, with our horses, but if we allow for them to have that space by taking that step back, we’re acknowledging that our horses are speaking to us, as well and building a profound connection. Taking a step back shows your horses that, “Wow! This human is actually listening and hearing me,” rather than forcing the next move on them.

Being aware of your horse is essential to building that relationship with your horse. It’s not about getting at them and riding as hard as we can, it’s about slowing down and bringing them along with you. This makes a world of difference. There are so many beautifully trained horses out there, but when sudden events occur, their initial response is to flee the scene. When we can take the time to build a relationship with our horses, rather than just get them to complete a task, we can build a relationship to help them to trust those situations and that they’ll be okay with us, rather than their immediate response be to boogie out of there. 

So how can you build a relationship with your horse? 

Slow down in-the-moment. Stop. Pay attention to them. Watch your horse. Touch your horse. Walk like a horse.

This is often something that we take for granted. We may be working with our horses, but are we really with our horses? Be in the moment. Don’t worry about what’s for dinner, or what happened today, just take the time to be aware of what is going on with your horse. With their breathing, with their eyes, with their ears. Start there. Live in your moment to build that relationship. When you’re walking out to the field to get your horse, slow down. Walk like a horse. You don’t need to rush to get anywhere, just walk slowly. This helps us to be more in-the-moment, but also allows us to see those little things that we often miss, like what their body language is saying. Help your horse understand that you’re listening to them and that they’re heard, to really reciprocate that beautiful partnership with one another.



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