Respect and Boundaries
It’s a big ask to try to do justice in writing to the wondrous second lesson with Avril and Hugo but I shall try!
I turned up all excited as usual and Avril took me to the side to give me a briefing before we went in to say hello to Hugo. She explained about energy and how it affects our horses. While she fully understands obviously I am all excited to be turning up to see Hugo, she explained how my energy would affect him. Unlike greeting a dog with excitement where the worst that will happen is that he jumps up, horses pick up on our energy and his natural response will be to become anxious or try to put some distance between us. Avril likes to reminded me that horses constantly seek peace and security. So, after promising to show me more constructive ways to channel my natural happiness at being with my horse, we did some grounding breathing, helping me lower my energy before starting to work with Hugo.
As we were talking, Hugo was standing as instructed by Avril at the open door to his stable. Avril explained how she wasn’t looking at him, or talking to him, but keeping him in her awareness at all times. She notices every move of the head, flick of the eyes, every breath, and is reading him and being with him fully at all times. It’s magical!
We set out for the round pen with me leading Hugo on a loose rope. The gate opened to reveal a big puddle inside due to the amount of rain recently. I hoped my boots were water proof and gingerly found some shallower bits to walk through but Hugo was less motivated and stayed at the gate. He was definitely in a mood to teach me how to lead with intention! Avril showed me how to move his lead rope to get his attention, and to visualise him walking with me to the middle of the pen. Well I jiggled and visualised for what seemed like an age but he didn’t budge🌱 There was never any sense of confrontation though, he was just nice and relaxed, happily ignoring me while staying outside the pen with Avril who seemed very amused 😉 Eventually, she explained that we were in a standoff with neither of us succeeding in moving the other’s feet and with no clear leadership position, Hugo wasn’t ready to follow me. With more encouragement and a little bit of a sideways move, I managed to get one front hoof to take a little step and we were off into the middle of the pen, phew! A great lesson in staying calm and quietly working with a technique until it has the desired effect.
And that was just the beginning. Avril then showed me how to introduce myself into my horse’s presence, standing calmly by his shoulder and giving him a little stroke on his neck before offering the back of my hand for him to read my energy signature, not shoving it under his nose so he has no choice as I did at first!. We discussed respect and acknowledging each other’s personal space. I was made aware to resist the temptation to invade his space with kisses and cuddles and fuss around his head but rather wait to be invited in.
So, with greetings completed Avril showed me how to move him backwards just a step, then two steps, eventually trying to get a tiny move of a few inches of his front left foot so it was lined up with his right all nice and square. When I succeeded Avril was very pleased with me and I felt like a star pupil!!
We then moved on to bending Hugo’s neck towards me while I stood by his shoulder. This was achieved by relaxing my arms and elbows, and putting my fingers either side of his nose bone and gently coaxing his head round to me. It was a beautiful gentle moment, reminding me of yoga or stretching exercises. I continued with a very gentle give and take with Hugo’s gorgeous muscley neck as he gradually turned towards me. We repeated the movement on the other side, and as he brought his head round in this gentle exchange of touch and movement, I felt like I was really communicating with a horse for possibly the first time ever. My little heart nearly burst and I was very close to tears when Hugo curled up his neck and raised his whole body up into a big beautiful tremoring shake, releasing lots of tension and deeply relaxing, then moving into me for a cuddle. Best horsey moment ever💛🐴💚😘