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Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Importance Of Synchronicity



I heard about a Corolla that when ridden behind a Tennessee Walker did a version of the running walk and when ridden behind a Paso Fino did a version of the Paso gait. Seemed hard to believe/understand. Then some of my riders noticed that their horses wee more comfortable to ride when they rode directly behind Holland. It seems that some of the horses seemed to emulate Holland's gaiting. In recent years I have noticed that when the dog who is with us in the lead changes her gait the lead horse changes to match the dog's gait--instantly, on their own, without any cue.

Why is moving in synchronicity with the herd leader so important to a horse?

This week I learned why. A pasture that I dive by to get to my horse lot has a line of electric wire running around it. The wire is hidden by weeds that are a foot or two higher than the fence. The fence is easy for deer to jump but their is no obvious reason to do so. The lead deer broke through the darkness at top speed. I expected to see the strand of wire be destroyed.

Instead she sailed over it, landed in tall weeds just like the ones she had just jumped over and continued to run through equally tall weeds without jumping again. Clearly the obstacle that she was jumping was he hidden strain of wire that  experience may have taught her was there.

Just behind her was a fawn of the season. As the old doe soared the fawn instantly did the same and landed safely beyond the wire. Moving in perfect sync with the lead animal had provided the younger one with a safe place to land. Synchronicity lead to safety for the younger animal.

This principle has strong implications for training.  If your horse is not moving in sync with you while being lead it is telling you that it does not trust/respect your leadership. Equally important, when your young horse is afraid that fear can be reduced by pausing and standing calmly beside the horse while synchronizing your breathing with the horse's.

If you want to know what synchronicity looks like take a look at Hailey and Kiowa in this picture. Togetherness is more than just being at the same place at the same time. It is a melding of two separate existences.

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