Are you aware that what you think of others and thereby how you interact with them can (and most likely will) affect their way of being? That your expectations no matter if they are high or low will make a difference in the performance of the other being? Either to the better or the worse?
It is not as crazy as it sounds and for once I was actually really caught up in the theme when my psychology teacher introduced us to what is called the Rosenthal effect. The whole idea of this phenomenon is that higher expectations to an individual can lead them to a better performance. Of course that also goes the other way around and therefore low expectations will also cause an individual to perform worse than what they are actually capable of.
An experiment was once made by Rosenthal himself to show this phenomenon and it involved a handful of teachers as well as a lot of students. All of these students had been through an IQ-test and passed with pretty much the same scores. Yet the teachers knew nothing of that, but were instead told that some of the students were extremely brilliant (note that these kids were randomly chosen). The teachers were given the names of the ‘smart kids’ believing that they were actually better than the others. By the end of the experiment all students were given a similar IQ-test and this time the results had changed. The students that were known by the teachers to be brilliant (but actually were the same as the others) received a particularly higher score in the test than the ‘average’ students. Nothing had been done different with either of the ‘smart’ kids, but simply because the teachers had treated them as if they were smarter than the others, they actually BECAME smarter!
I am well aware that what we experience with our horses is not the same as a lot of students in a classroom, but I think it is worth taking into consideration that we actually do affect our horses by how we think of them and thereby also how we handle them. If we see our horses as stupid and unintelligent beings then we will treat them as such and they most like will act like they are exactly that. If we see and treat them as lazy, unwilling and ill-mannered they most like will live up to our expectations on that point as well. If we on the other hand believe that they are intelligent, sentient beings who are able to feel, love and engage then that is exactly what will grow bigger inside them and shown to us outside.
What we think of people or animals will always affect the way we treat them, talk to them and act around them. We might not let ourselves affect from our beliefs on purpose, but we simply can’t avoid letting it play a role in our interactions. By being aware of what we think of others we can actually use it in our advantage. We can use it to affect our horses in a good way and help them become the best versions of themselves. What we think and expect of them is what we make room for. That also means that if we only expect our horses to run away when we are on a walk, throw us off when we ride or be uncontrollable then we almost ASK for it to happen. Not on purpose of course, but that is why we need to be conscious of what we think of our horses.
By believing the worst or having low expectations we will not in our minds ‘allow’ anything else so to say. It is not that we don’t WANT something better, but our mind is already focused on the fact that the horse will misbehave and things won’t go as we want them to. If so, that in most cases is all that we will see – things that go wrong! Both because we have already prepared our brain for seeing that and because we act from that belief with our horses. Instead we can convince our brains that things will go well, the horse will be doing amazing and that he will surprise you with his gentle and intelligent soul. After that your brain will automatically pick up on exactly those factors and you will (without knowing it) affect your horse to show you just this.
Best tip of today : Be aware of your thoughts and expectations. Use them the best possible way to make your horse be the best version of himself. Know that your thoughts becomes reality and promise your horse to start thinking only high thoughts of him from now on as you will thereby automatically start treating him as the amazing being he is.