Episode 191: Do you show up strong and clear for your horse?

In this episode, I outline three examples where I often see riders using ‘low’ energy to try to influence their horse. In each example, I share what I see and the challenges that often come from this method.

What do you believe about low energy? Is low energy better than high energy? Does the idea of using strong or powerful energy around your horse seem: wrong, unnecessary, or even bad?

What If I said that the ability to have a strong, powerful energy around your horse would actually make your cues more clear and subtle?
I believe it does, and I explain it with examples in this podcast.


Episode 191_ Do you show up strong and clear for your horse_.mp3
Stacy Westfall: [00:00:00] When you are watching a professional working with a horse and everything looks really subtle, sometimes I wonder if you’re missing that there’s a strong, steady flow of energy happening there.

Announcer: [00:00:22] Podcasting from a little cabin on a hill, this is the Stacy Westfall podcast. Stacy’s goal is simple: to teach you to understand why horses do what they do, as well as the action steps for creating clear, confident communication with your horses.

Stacy Westfall: [00:00:42] Hi. I’m Stacy Westfall and I help writers become confident, communicate clearly, and get better results with their horses. In this season of the podcast, I’ve been sharing with you some of the concepts that I teach to my students in my programs. I want to talk to you today about your views on using strong energy around your horses because there are going to be times when your horse is going to use strong energy around you. This is a bit of a follow-up to last week’s podcast about the thoughts that could be holding you back that you’re not aware of. Again, kind of a strange circle, but here’s how I see this one playing out. If you have an underlying thought about strong or powerful energy around your horse being unnecessary or wrong or some kind of version of, mmh-mmh, don’t like that, then you’re going to avoid that. And I have this idea. That the ability to have a strong, powerful energy around your horse could actually make it easier to use smoother, more subtle cues. Think about it. If someone is in a large room and it’s full of noisy people and another person comes up and is trying to whisper you might not hear them. So for them to be able to get your attention in this loud, noisy area, they might need to do something more dramatic to draw your attention. And in this example, the whisper is kind of like a cue, like a rein cue, for example.

Stacy Westfall: [00:02:45] Now let’s go into that same noisy room and let’s think about the energy behind the whisper. Now don’t get confused. The whisper volume is going to stay the same. But think about the person who is whispering. It is possible that the energy carried in their body would change your awareness of them being in the room even before the whisper. Are you with me? Sometimes people will describe it like this. They’ll say when someone enters the room, they have a lot of presence. To me, if someone enters a large, noisy room and they have a lot of presence, that is an example of a strong energy. So rather than the idea of a strong energy being something scary when this person with a lot of presence steps into the room, even if everybody else keeps talking–it doesn’t have to be nearly as dramatic as it is in some movies–but when that person comes into the room, literally your awareness of them is stronger. And that person who carries that stronger energy is more likely to be able to even affect you with–when they look at you the weight of their gaze and then you follow that up with the whisper, can you start to see how if we transfer this idea over to when you ride that if you are carrying a very low energy, it would actually be easier to need to overuse an aid than if you show up with this level of presence when you’re using that same aid. So what if your relationship with your horse, rhe way that you approach or interact with your horse could actually be strong, clear, and engaging?

Stacy Westfall: [00:05:02] I’m actually going to give you three examples of the flip side of this. Three examples of places where I often see people avoiding using strong, clear energy around their horses, because maybe that contrast will help make it more clear. So an example, number one. I often see people who stay in a very low-energy state trying to prevent issues with their horse. So sometimes I’ll see people who are trying to keep their energy very low to avoid possibly triggering something with their horse. Now the challenge with this is that it’s hard to be interesting or engaging if you’re also very low energy. Another level of confusion there could be there with energy is energy doesn’t have to be speed. So you can be a strong energy that moves steady and slow. I just want you to contrast that with the idea of being a small, low-energy, not like avoiding kind of energy. Because that’s another one of the challenges that I see here when people are trying to prevent issues with their horse by staying really low is that it can often look to the horse like you’re avoiding certain situations. So then you start getting this like sneaky energy around you because you’re trying not to disturb. So think about like tiptoeing through the house when you’re trying not to disturb somebody who’s sleeping, it gives you a sneaky quality. And so if you’re around the horse and you’re doing that, it actually gives off some of the opposite vibe of what you’re looking for, because now the horse is like, Why are we sneaking? Or sometimes it will show up with people like they’re constantly trying to smooth things over because again, they’re trying not to disturb, they’re trying to prevent. So if you start looking at the type of energy that that would create around the horse it would not be the same thing as actually believing that you could show up in a strong, clear energy around your horse without having to be fast. Because strong and clear isn’t a speed and it doesn’t have to be loud because strong and clear doesn’t have to be a volume either. Can you see where it might be possible to show up in a strong, clear energy around your horse and still choose to move steady and slow?

Stacy Westfall: [00:08:01] In example two I actually want you to go to the point where it’s already happening. The horse is already triggered. Something has already set the horse off. Let’s use the example of maybe a buddy left or maybe a buddy arrived, and either way the horse got excited. So the energy went up because the horse took the energy up. This is another place where I’ll often see people become smaller. And I think this is an attempt to influence the horse. So I think it comes a little bit from example one where they’re not wanting to trigger any more of a problem, but I also wonder if there’s this unconscious attempt to lower the overall energy in the room. So let’s put that into numbers so that I can be really clear. If the horse goes to a ten. I think sometimes the people are thinking unconsciously. I need to go to a two to try to lower that horse from a ten. So another flip side of the way they could be thinking about it unconsciously would be if the horse goes to a ten certainly me going to a ten won’t help because ten plus ten equals 20. So in another way, they’re trying to think ten plus two is only 12. Let’s just look at the challenge. Typically, in this situation, you are the default leader because in this situation you are typically either riding the horse or leading the horse. So if you shrink your energy, there’s still a pretty good chance that you’re attached to the horse physically. In a lot of these scenarios, you’re riding or you’re leading, and this horse is distracted because of the buddy who either came or went. And again, this idea that you’re going to lower, shrink your energy, is kind of an interesting thing because what if it’s possible to be a strong, clear energy that could even be strong and clear at a ten without becoming physical? Think about a time in your life, and maybe it’s a human-to-human kind of an example. Think about a time in your life when you’ve been in a situation where you felt strong and clear and if anything, you actually spoke slower and deeper because you were very anchored in your belief. When you see a horse becoming high energy, the question I have for you is, do you know how to shape that? Because when I’m around a horse that becomes higher energy, I want to know if I can shape or redirect that. Use that energy and shape it into something different. That to me is a better example of how you can be strong and clear even in that shaping or redirecting process versus becoming smaller. Because let’s go back to the actual example. They’re really distracted because their buddy just left. Or they’re really distracted because their buddy just came. They’re already distracted and not paying attention. So is you becoming smaller, really going to help? What is your view of being strong and clear? Do you automatically relate that to becoming physical with the horse? Because if so, you can look at that.

Stacy Westfall: [00:12:10] For this final example, in example number three, I actually want you to go to a rider who is currently working on bringing the energy level up in their horse. So let’s make that the rider asking the horse for a higher energy trot or maybe they want to canter and sustain the canter. And this is kind of an interesting one because for some riders who have had horses in the past who would get really amped up, worked up beyond that rider’s comfort zone, sometimes I’ll see this rider asking the horse for bigger energy or more energy, a bigger trot, a sustained canter or lope. But when I watch the rider, there’s a part of them that looks like they’re resisting this. And for example, maybe they’re sitting really heavily on the horse. And I think sometimes this comes from a place where they, the rider, has a memory or a feeling from the past of when things get higher energy, bigger energy. So literally asking the horse to bring up the energy in their body into a bigger trot, this rider oftentimes has a habit of squashing down that energy because maybe they wrote a horse in the past that would buck or bolt or do some of these other expressions that aren’t as desirable when the energy level goes up. And so if you haven’t really looked at this, what’ll happen is that it will kind of be in your head or at least in your body, that you’re not quite sure if you want to engage in that higher energy with the horse. And that a lot of times will hold riders back when they are now in a situation where they could be asking for higher energy movements from the horse, let’s say a lead change. Any of these higher-level things, an extended trot, a sustained canter, a flying lead change, a lot of these require there to be a shared circle of energy between the horse and rider. And so oftentimes I’ll see riders who aren’t crystal clear about their views on bringing up the energy in their own body, bringing up the energy in their own horse, or bringing up that same necessary energy in this cycle between the horse and rider. And so, what happens is when the rider is not really congruently clear here the rider will sometimes try to use aids, meaning the legs or the reins or the whip or whatever, and they’ll be using those aids to ask the horse to go while they are using a different aid, and I’m going to call it the energy in their body. And that energy in their body is not matching because part of them is a little bit squashing the horse down. Now, you’ll also see this in flip. You’ll see somebody who wants to slow their horse down. But I’ll look at their body and I’ll see this rider that is riding very forward. That’s why I did the earlier podcast about moving faster or slower than your horse. This is another flavor of this when you start really looking at the energy so that you can be really congruent across the board with what you’re asking for and how that’s going to feel energy-wise in your body and the horse’s body. Because for some riders, they will have a memory in the past of high energy from the horse equals bad, and then that might be causing you problems in the present. Can you see how your views on the energy between you and the horse can actually influence a lot more than you might think? So is your view on energy that low is better? Did it just occur to you while you were listening to the podcast that maybe you view high energy as bad? If you do believe that low energy is good. Does that mean lower is even better? And when does low energy become less influential energy?

Stacy Westfall: [00:16:51] While I was planning to record this, I was trying to pick terms that weren’t too loaded, which is how I went with high energy, low energy, strong energy. But there are so many different types of energy when you are working with your horse. My main point here was learn to separate the different types of strong energy that might show up around the horses. Because I think that there are a lot of times that we accidentally think strong energy is also negative. Because maybe you’ve been really frustrated and that felt strong or maybe you’ve been really angry and that felt strong. Those examples of frustrated and angry don’t even have to be with the horse. But if you automatically equate these strong feelings with bad, you will possibly be drawn to low energy accidentally thinking that’s good. But I would love for you to explore the idea that higher energy, bigger energy, stronger energies can be useful. Powerful energy can still be kind. Strong energy can be steady. And sometimes these powerful, strong energies are much more clear. Sometimes I wonder if when you are watching a professional working with a horse and everything looks really subtle, sometimes I wonder if you’re missing that there’s a strong, steady flow of energy happening there. What if when you are watching a pro work with a horse you are interpreting steady as low? Because that level of energy you haven’t considered could actually be strong and steady instead of low. Because maybe your idea of strong is also tied together with busy or fast or harsh. In my relationships with my horses, I want both of us to be able to show up powerful and strong. It’s not a competition of who is stronger. For me, it is creating a team where we are both strong together. If you are drawn to this type of work and you want to know about taking these concepts that you’re hearing and learning here on the podcast, and you want help applying them to your own horse journey, visit my website to learn more about my private coaching and my online course. Thanks for joining me today and I’ll talk to you again in the next episode.

Announcer: [00:20:12] If you enjoy listening to Stacy’s podcast, please visit stacywestfall.com for articles, videos, and tips to help you and your horse succeed.

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