Roads to Attunement

May 18, 2023

You got into horses as part of a deeper calling, it might be hard to explain but you know it comes from somewhere profound. It might feel timeless. It may have the curious effect of making you feel excited yet calm at the same time. You know the prerequisite for bonding with horses has something to do with being able to understand and connect with the horse in a way that is not only safe, but also attuned, & relaxed. You want to have the skills and confidence to be a partner your horse trusts. 


The problem is, most people who answer this calling aren’t sure exactly where to start! The number of styles, techniques, philosophies etc. is truly overwhelming. Most local areas have dozens of barns and riding programs, and it is so intimidating to even call them up, yet alone drive in and take a tour just to determine if the place is a good fit for you. To make matters worse, when you do muster up the courage to go check these places out, you may not know exactly what to look for, or the right questions to ask.  If you are already experienced, your heart is probably pulling you to try new ways that feel more attuned.  You’ve seen how bad things can actually be behind the curtains, and for the love of the horse, you’re determined to find a better way. To add to the confusion, the horse industry, and many equine communities don’t have the vibe you are looking for at best, and are violating values you hold sacred at worst. You may have found some great trainers and YouTube videos, but you feel like you’re missing foundational pieces. It may seem to become great with horses yourself, it will take a lifetime! If you are able to find someone and someplace to learn and have a great lesson, I'm willing to bet you often fail to replicate the results on their own, and that experience can get really frustrating, especially after weeks and years of effort. 


So, how do you find real attunement with the horse? How should you begin? What do you focus on?  You have plenty of options, there are seemingly endless paths to attunement: equitation, unmounted techniques, ground driving, round pen, longeing, dressage, reining, etc. The problem is, 99% of the time when you learn anything that involves a bridle, you’ll experience some form of task overwhelm! This only gets exponentially worse if you’re not with an experienced trainer, or have a horse who is not fully trained.  Even managing a long line takes an advanced level of feel and timing that can feel defeating if you haven’t been taught properly. The round pen has lots of magical potential, as we teach in depth in our programs, but again the nuance of body language and timing can go right over most people's head. The experience of attunement becomes like a mirage, perceptible but unattainable, without years of proper instruction and practice.

So, what to do? This is a question we have strived to answer for many years, as a way to help well intentioned humans discover attunement and answer their own calling to partner with horses, AND as a way to give back to the horse in a servant leader role, with the respect and heart that is at the center of the calling to partnership. The answer we found, and now tested and proven with dozens of students over the last two years, is that finding the simplest, least overwhelming version of unmounted work is really the ideal place to set up this solid foundation that is so often missing. This is where you can learn how to communicate and connect with horses, and slowly layer up your skill set without suffering from task overwhelm. 


As our friend, podcast guest, PATH certified instructor and mentor, and therapeutic riding program director Chrissy Stout said "Unmounted activities need a PSA campaign in the horse world!".  A lot of people look over unmounted work with the horse and see it as a means to an end, or hurry through catching, grooming, and saddling just to get to the more advanced stuff like riding. The truth is, a lot of seemingly good trainers don’t have a solid foundation of groundwork skills in their toolkit, and many disciplines don’t even teach it at all! 


When it comes to unmounted activities with the horse, one method truly stands apart from the rest as one the most effective AND simplest ways to connect and relate to the horse on a deep level. One method allows you to show the horse they are safe & cared for in a such a direct way the horse can't help but fall in love with you. This method is also one of the best ways to let the horse feel seen and to show them that they truly matter. This same simple yet profound method is one of the best ways we have found to help you learn and develop the art of feel around horses. Similarly, this technique can teach you how to recognize, and release brace, including the subtle versions of brace that most people miss. This method communicates all of this and more in a way that will form powerful bonds between you and the horse. It is simple, doesn't require strength, skilled use of equipment, or years of experience and training! Plus, it's all done in a peaceful environment, unmounted, and on the ground. Curious what the heck this magical method is?!


Cue the drum roll please.......curtain opens.......Equine Bodywork!


We truly believe that everyone who works with horses should start here, it is of tremendous value whether you've been working with horses for years, or are new. When it comes to therapeutic environments and program horses, a basic equine bodywork training should be required for any facilitator or volunteer as a simple means to give back to the horse, while empowering the human to be force of healing and tension relief for our hard working, selfless program horses.


Depending on when you see this, join our 3 day challenge to learn the exact techniques to prepare yourself before you even get to the barn, how to approach the horse correctly, the perfect first move, and how to develop an advanced level of feel you probably didn’t think you were even capable of feeling, or maybe didn’t even know existed! 


If you missed it or can't find the challenge, you are welcome to shoot us a DM and I'll help point you in the right direction. Nothing like bodywork, when taught correctly, embodies the concept of WITH the horse and FOR the horse, and it will set you up for an experience of genuine attunement with the horse.