Written by James Cooler
Photography by Lori Anthony
ast month, we finished up with the concept of Willing Cooperation and ATRUM, which are the five elements needed to achieve a relationship of willing cooperation with a horse. This month, I would like to start talking a little bit more about our responsibilities when it comes to developing a relationship of willing cooperation. In order to help people understand specifically what skills they need to develop in order to be effective with their horses, I discovered what I now call the Five Factors of Communication.
The Five Factors of Communication are the five elements I have found that directly relate to my ability to communicate with horses, hence the name. Without further ado, they are: Focus, Feel, Timing, Balance, and Consistency. For the next few months, I will explore the importance of each of these elements in my articles. This month, I will give a brief description as to why each is important.
When it comes to horses, we must understand that two of the basic elements we use to communicate are pressure and energy. Our responsibility is to learn how to focus our pressure and energy. We do this by learning how to control and focus our body language. It takes a little study to understand exactly what goes into focusing your energy and pressure with your horse, but once you have it, it’s priceless. Next, a horseman must possess feel. Because we are dealing with pressure and energy, we must develop a certain feel as to how much we should use at any moment in time. After that, we should be aware of our timing. When do we apply pressure and energy, and when do we stop the application of pressure and energy? This is a very important question in horsemanship. Fourth, our balance is a critical factor. First off, we need to make sure that our horse understands what we are trying to communicate to him on both sides, so that he is balanced in his understanding. Also, we need to make sure that we are a balanced rider, so that our communication is clear and effective from the saddle. Last, but not least, is our consistency. Because horses communicate primarily through body language, pressure and energy, we need to become consistent in how we present ourselves and what we are asking of the horse. Simply put, our cues and our actions must be consistent if we expect our horse’s responsiveness to be consistent.
These are very short overviews as to what goes into each of the Five Factors of Communication. Learning the importance of each of these elements only takes a short time. Mastering them, however, takes a great deal more time, patience, and practice. There are a lot of different ways to work with and communicate with horses. Some are better than others. Through my studies and experience, I have found that these five factors are crucial to us if we expect any sort of excellence from our relationship with our horse. I hope this information has been insightful and helpful. To learn more about the Five Factors of Communication and the Cooler Horsemanship program, please visit the Cooler Online Horsemanship Library at www.CoolerHorsemanship.com. I hope all the lowcountry horse owners get a chance to get out and enjoy their horses before the spring is over and the summer hits. I know I’m trying to get in as much time as I can. Thanks, and I’ll be looking forward to next month’s article.