IN centering our horse we can reduce the instinct to freeze, flight, or fight when he understands what is expected through the use of exercises that lead to greater physical and mental balance. True forwardness and straightness greatly helps form an improved connection between the two hemispheres of the brain by developing new muscle memory and therefore more positive responses. When our horse no longer feels compelled to act out the moves of survival mode, we can look forward to fewer random reactions. It should be recognised that most horses operate on a level of stress when asked to leave familiar surroundings. There are plenty of signs from the mild to severe. Here are some common ones: Inability to stand, a strong desire to rush home, calling, hurried paces, over sensitivity to the leg, high head carriage, rigidly pricked ears, head and ears turned back listening for sounds behind, planting, swerving, snorting, spinning, backing up, running through the hand, shooting forward, jogging, stopping suddenly, and overall body stiffness.
We don’t have to hold up a sign, our horse knows what we are feeling and yes, even thinking. For the most part we unconsciously transmit stuff, relevant data that horses pick up on. They know when we are frustrated, frightened, angry, or sad and for most of them, they will have been exposed to the whole range of human emotions from multiple owners, affecting them in ways far beyond the provision of adequate day to day care. In fact they have little awareness of centeredness in their relationship with us until we show them it exists. For the most part, when we want them to do something we don’t concern ourselves about balancing their minds and bodies. For example, we might ask our horse to move over in the box. A simple exercise that if we think about it at all, it’s likely to be whether or not he does it rather than how he does it. The way a horse moves over is indicative of his current state of mind, his mental balance and centredness, and a reflection of what’s going on inside us. Delivery of our cues and requests are influenced by our thoughts and feelings to which horses respond accordingly. On the ground we are most careful to move a horse’s feet in a way that is in alignment with the centering process just as much as when we are riding.