Clear Communication: Learning from the Horses

Published: Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Author: DJ Jesser, LICSW, Equine Specialist, Executive Director

Horses value clarity above all else. Their survival in the wild depends on this clarity of communication as they live together in a herd. Horses teach us that giving and receiving clear communication is essential. For them it is a matter of survival, for humans it is not necessarily a matter of survival but is imperative to establishing and building solid relationships that positively affects our mental health and well-being. 

At the end of February, I attended a workshop on Horse Speak, led by Sharon Wilsie. Over the years, I have attended many of her workshops and what is repeated and emphasized at each one is the importance of consistent and clear communication with voice and body between human and horse. Clarity is crucial for successful relationships to develop and grow. Confidence with word choice and manner of expression, allows for what we are saying and modeling to be understood. When working with horses they provide immediate feedback about whether we are clear and confident with our communication. They tell us through their body language and actions that they understand and then respond appropriately. It is the same with humans, if we present with confidence we are usually met with calm and rational behavior, if we present with nervousness and angst, we most likely are met with anxiousness and uncertainty in behavior and actions. Thus, we can practice our communication skills with horses. As we become clearer with horses we can translate these same strategies to working with family members, co-workers, and more. Clear communication leads to effective communication and ultimately stronger relationships.

Recently, I found these 5 strategies for clarity listed on Stand InBalance to be helpful.

  1. Use actions and stillness as tools
  2. Listen to yourself
  3. Listen to others
  4. See the big picture
  5. Remember who you are 

I hope you will try some of these strategies and see how they work to increase clarity and assist with building strong relationships. Ultimately leading to positive outcomes for mental health and well-being. And of course we thank our horses for daily teaching and modeling the importance of clarity.

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