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Digital Subscriptions > Horse Illustrated > May 2019 > Horses in Translation

Horses in Translation


An upbeat, warm-hearted man—I’ll call him Dave—had trailered a horse to my clinic. His Mustang, who I’ll call Timmy, found it hard to settle down. I watched Dave’s cheery face as he chuckled uncomfortably, shaking his head and mumbling, “There goes my Timmy. He just does that!” He explained that if he didn’t “get Timmy’s bucks out,” the horse was often nippy and too uptight to ride. He wouldn’t even bother to ride Timmy some days because it seemed like he would never settle down; he was baffled that Timmy was still, after so many years, acting out in this way.

On the surface, this situation would seem to most people to be the case of an unruly horse that was “just that way.” Dave obviously adored his horse, and the trainer they went to was well known for his thoughtful approach to horsemanship. No one was beating the Mustang or rushing him or trying to scare him into submission. It sounded like even the mare that lived with him back home was very patient and kind. I needed to see if I could diagnose what Timmy’s issues really were.


By adopting an “O” posture—rounded shoulders and arms, hands lightly touching, head and neck relaxed, and softened jaw and lips— your brain and nervous system get the signal, “All’s clear, you’re safe.” This posture urges your inner state in the direction of what I call Zero—the state of being present in the moment, being aware and calm—causing you to breathe deeply. It is universally recognized as welcoming, beckoning, and softening.

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Horse Illustrated May 2019, 7 Fabulous Beauty to Finds for Riders, 20 Tips from the Pros, The Joy of Companion Horses, And More.....