How important is consistency within the horse-human relationship?
Clear and consistent communication is essential to good leadership within the horse human relationship, but it is compassion which develops the trust necessary to become the benevolent leader in the partnership.
Horses, as a prey animal, are always looking for a benevolent leader to keep them safe. Communication that occurs (physically, emotionally, intellectually, socially) during their interactions with a person will determine whether or not they perceive the human as a benevolent leader, a dictator, or as no leader at all. A leader that dictates to the horse what needs to happen, even if using clear and consistent communication strategies, may have obedience for a time, but no trust. In order to be perceived as a benevolent, trustworthy leader, the human’s style of communication also needs to be compassionate, thoughtful, patient and always considerate of the horse’s perspective. A benevolent leader needs to see the Big Picture, acknowledge the horse’s small steps in the right direction, recognize that the beginning never looks like the end – and keep a sense of humor!