I have been thinking a lot about language and our use of it. It’s remarkable how some people can ask us to do something or give us advice, and only succeed it making us dig our heels in! Other people seem brilliant at dolling out advice and never incurring anyone’s wrath.
Being able to give tactful advice, or feedback to others is a brilliant skill. It is learnable, so don’t despair if it is not one of your natural talents. Pay attention to who you take advice from. How do they convey their advice? Often it is not so much the words as the delivery of those words. The old “it’s not what you say but how you say it” springs to mind. Some people empowers us with their advice and others cut us down.
Language has the ability to build bridges or burn them. Be careful with your words. But consider the language with which we talk to our horses. Language doesn’t just encapsulate words, but body language, voice tone and many other subtle nuances. My dog trainer does a wonderful demonstration of training the recall. A flat, boring tone of voice, with dejected posture will never encourage the dog to return to you, whereas an enthusiastic, friendly tone, combined with an open and approachable posture will encourage the dog to recall.
All our interactions with our horses form our language. Are we cheerful and open? Or are we stressed and closed off? Our horses are reading this all the time. Every interaction not just our ridden work will have an effect on our bond with them. Our language will impact our relationship, so make sure your language conveys that right message. Animals are in general very forgiving, so they will forgive bad days and tense times, as long as the majority of your language is positive. Remember language matters, make sure you communicate from your heart…