Communication- A Two Way
Communication = a process
by which information is shared and exchanged. To transfer information,
thoughts and feelings so that it is received and understood.
When we communicate with
each other, it takes one to express (talk) and one to receive (listen). It
is an exchange. It is similar to dancing - one leads and the other
follows. Communication that is received and understood will have a
response. At the point of response, the listener becomes the one talking
and the other becomes the listener. If this does not happen, it is not
communication on the level of exchange.
Communication can be fun
and it can be frustrating. According to the experts in family
communication- the type of communication that is an exchange of thoughts and
feelings is becoming a thing of the past. They state that break ups in
marriages often start with one of the individuals finding someone who will
listen to them. Communication takes time, patience and effort. Actually, it
is a skill.
When we see a beautiful
and fast barrel racing run, we know that the rider is communicating and the
horse is listening and responding. The rider is also listening and
responding to the actions of the horse. To reach the level where the dance
is beautiful and fast, there have been hours of communicating and listening
and listening and communicating back and forth. That is actually how a
horse is trained.
There are some ways of
communicating that simply will not work. Let’s explore these today.
Communicating and never listening for the response.
Let’s refer back to humans so that we get a clear picture of this concept.
How many of us have a friend that we do not enjoy talking to. When we see
their number on the caller I.D. we don’t want to pick up the phone and we
dread for them to come see us. We care for them, but we know when they call
or come by that we may as well put our brain in neutral and watch the clock
turn. This person talks without stopping to take a breath. This person
never waits for a response from the listener or butts in when the listener
tries to respond. This is not communication, but being talked at. I have
heard people make excuses for people like this saying that they talk
incessantly because they are lonely. (Get a clue as to why they are
Think about this type of
communication with your horse. If you are giving cues for one thing, then a
cue for another, continuing to communicate without listening for a response,
then your horse is not learning anything except to dread you and your hands
and feet and body weight. When we give a cue to a horse, we will know by
his response 99% of the time if he understood the cue. If we do not listen
for the response, we are going to have a type of horse that when he is free
to work will never know what his job is. Why? Because there was no
communication exchange – but rather a forced command. This horse is like a
dancer being forced around the floor. He is not being given a chance to
learn to follow and consequently he never learns to dance.
When you sell this horse
to a new owner, the new owner will have to ride the same forced command way
that the one who trained him used. If you throw his head away on the way to
your barrels, he will be lost. He has not learned to follow the lead
because he never had a chance to respond. He was not free to make a mistake
and then be corrected. When I get a horse like this in for training – I
tell the owners that he needs to be trained over. I don’t care how much
futurity and derby money he won being forced around the arena – he will need
retrained for an amateur or child to ride him.
How many times have we as
people told someone something in a way that was not clear? The listener may
get a whole different picture of what we thought that we had stated. I find
myself doing this – stating something and not stating it clearly enough for
the hearer to understand. This is when feed back and the response becomes
so important. I might ask my husband – “did you understand what I meant?”
When he replies, I will know if I made myself clear or just thought that I
did. If we give a horse the wrong cue, he may try to respond in what he
thought we wanted. That is why our cues must be clear and correct. We will
never get a correct response if we do not give the correct cue. If you are
not getting what you are wanting from your horse, change your cues and make
sure that they are very clear. The feedback of his response will tell you
given in wrong sequence:
Have you ever had someone
yell at you to go do something for them? How willing were you to do a task
for them when you were commanded? A rude command can make us angry. Think
about your horse. When you want him to do something, do you command him?
Our cues should be given in the order that we should learn to communicate
with our horses. We first ask
for something. If there is no response, then we can
tell the horse a bit stronger.
If there is still no response, then we
command. Commanding comes thirdly – not first. Communicating in
a command teaches horses to brace and defend themselves. This horse will
never work on a free rein either.
Have you ever tried to
communicate with a person who is not consistent in their thoughts, feelings
and words? They can be very confusing. We might say that they wake up in a
new world each day and you never know how they are going to be when you see
them. Think about our horses. If we aren’t giving clear, concise and
consistent cues to our horses, then they cannot learn consistency. If we go
into a barrel in one pocket area today and a different one tomorrow or
gather in different places. each day, we cannot expect him to learn
consistency. The horse will be as consistent as the rider teaches him to
be! If we are in a good mood one day and in a jerky mood the next, we will
teach inconsistency. People who cannot control their own moods will never
train consistent horses.
correct way is listening
for the response and then rewarding or correcting the response: A
big part of training a horse is listening for his response and rewarding the
correct response and correcting the wrong response in repetition. I have
seen people go from one maneuver to another without rewarding the first
maneuver. For example, if you stop your horse and immediately back him up
without releasing the reins, you have done two maneuvers without rewarding
the first. You picked up on his reins to the bit in his mouth and asked him
to stop and then asked him to back – all on the same mouth. If you pick up
your reins to stop and then release the pressure on reins when he stops,
then you will pick up new mouth to do the next maneuver. That in itself is
a reward because the mouth was released from pressure and then asked the
second time. To go all the way through your runs on old mouth will teach a
horse to brace upwards with his head because he felt no relief or reward.
This is like being talked
at and never getting a chance to respond. This is not beneficial
communication. Communication that is beneficial is one that is an exchange.
It is one in which the response is heard. Next time you are communicating
with a person – think about what type of communication is taking place.
Then, think about the different types and how that would relate to a man and
horse. Relationships are built and sustained upon an exchange. No one
wants to be in a one-sided relationship – not even your horse!