Harnessing Curiosity - Training Horses and Humans

The ideas of "breaking" horses are antiquated, violent, and often abusive, but unfortunately still exist today. It is amazing to recognize just how simple and calm horse training actually is, if that is your main goal. Knowing what emotional space to utilize and amplify is the key.

For example, curiosity is a natural tool every creature possesses. My young Holsteiner, Vertigo (named after the Hitchcock film) is very playful and loves to explore. When I started him as a youngster, introducing the saddle and bridle were always part of a game to invoke his natural curiosity. Even as I stepped my foot into the stirrup and pulled myself up into the saddle, we maintained the idea of an interesting game where I ended up on his back. I was careful not to scare or overwhelm him. Maintaining respect for young horses' reactions enhances the natural game-playing drive without losing trust. 

Teaching people is actually very similar; curiosity keeps them engaged as well. When I worked with groups of children who had behavior challenges at a psychiatric center, I would often tell a riddle. Immediately, you could see the mood change in the room as everyone explored the riddle - asking questions, guessing and thinking. Remarkably, I found when they engaged their brains in this way fewer outbursts, tantrums, and behavior issues were experienced. When the kids would figure out the answer to the riddle, especially after they had worked through the thought process for quite some time, a huge sense of accomplishment, pride, and success would emerge. 

Throughout the riddle-solving process, I would always encourage them not to give up. Sometimes I would give little hints. Helping someone, horse or human, feel confident in their abilities can truly go a long way. The real prize is not arriving at the answer or outcome, but the values you develop as you are getting there.

Want to know the best riddle? A farmer leaves for market on Saturday and gets back to his farm after one full week. But, he arrived back to his farm on Tuesday. How can this be?

Vertigo, my Holsteiner-cross, loves to discover new things. Here, he is learning about photography. 

Vertigo, my Holsteiner-cross, loves to discover new things. Here, he is learning about photography.