Communication.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Officially I am on vacation in Southern Oregon and haven’t seen my horses in days, but this post woke me up before light this morning asking to be written.

I did a little more riding at the end of last week I hadn’t written about, but also some horse world intersecting with real life ideas have been mulling around in my head needing some written space to get worked out. So after tossing and turning in the wee morning, I gave in and got up to write it.

I always love visitors and was excited that my first endurance riding friend came to visit. Pascale was my neighbor at the no frills in April and helped me along through my first ride weekend. We’ve kept in touch and she came out and helped me get my girls ridden for a couple days over the weekend.

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She arrived early evening and we headed to the barn after a heavy but short rain and took a misty evening ride. The fog sitting on the mountainsides were pretty and she got to know Faygo a bit.

IMG_1388Due to epic boot failure, I had to get up early before our Sunday ride and see if I could get the hoof glue shim removed from my old “back” easy boots. The old back boots are the same size as the current fronts, and after losing 2 fronts on the Alleghany Trail ride, I needed the old back to become a front for the day. My farrier wasn’t sure if the shim would stay in place long term, but it certainly did! In fact I had to get help from Tim with his dremel tool to get the custom shims out. It took some effort, but we did get them out so that previously back boot would fit her front foot for this – last before the farrier comes to shoe her – ride.

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The next day the girls headed out to Hidden Valley and took one of my favorite rides along the Jackson River. We had beautiful weather and the terrain is easy and not many mountains to climb so we were able to move out at a good clip for a group of five. We did 13-15 miles in about 3 hours.

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It’s one of the nicest rides in our area so I’ll post some pictures.

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Meanwhile my husband and I had a conversation about communication. I’ve been mulling this over.

The conversation began about a very specific situation that in his opinion was an example of our poor communication. While I agree we don’t always seem to speak the same language, I went over the same example step by step and thought it represented pretty clear communication (at least from my perspective).

We seemed to agree that it would be good for us to improve our communication, but without any clear plan to do so. I tend to be a step by step problem solver and the vagueness of both the problem and the solution is vexing to me.

One principle I hold fast is that no matter what the problem is, any possible solution must include variables I have some control over. In real life this is a very small set. I have no control over other people’s actions or feelings, the environment (weather, social norms, economy, politics, this list is very long), and I have only partial control over myself- I generally can’t control my feelings (though I have tried!), my actions and reactions are about all I can at least get some control over (on a good day).

How can communication between humans who even speak the same basic language (English in this case) be so complicated? What can I do about it?

I began wondering if verbal language could actually be the enemy.

I try to be straightforward and I like to rely on verbalization. Words. Of course that’s not completely true. We all look at other forms of communication even if subconsciously. Words might even be the least reliable layer of communication for anything except basic data (What does that apple weigh?). Tone is the next layer that usually tells us more information than the words themselves. In fact- tone came into play in our communication discussion. One obvious example is irritation.

When I get a response filled with irritation all around the words- I have much more information than the words themselves gave me.

What about other layers? What about non-verbal body language? What about eyes? posture? movements? These layers are more subtle- but do they tell us more than the other layers if you tune into them? But what are they saying?

These layers are more intimidating to me because they may be more reliable- but there isn’t an answer key. You can get these wrong. How do you find out the answers and get better at understanding these layers reliably? Could these layers be different for different people? Where do we go from understanding non-verbal communication and into “mind reading” (which is too far in my opinion to go).  Why can’t people just say what they mean to say and be honest in their words about what they want, expect and feel? That would be so much easier for me.

How on earth am I supposed to learn what these other layers mean- and what am I supposed to do with the information if I did know!?

Wait.

Isn’t this what I expect to do with my horses? Learn their language through nonverbal communication?

Maybe.

This is kind of a big maybe right now in my mind.

Maybe I am capable of trying to observe and learn more about my human communications by paying more attention than I currently do to the nonverbal communication layers.

Maybe it’s a cop-out to say to myself that if someone doesn’t tell me verbally then I am not responsible for the information.

Yes- I believe that it is annoying and less efficient to have to deal with this, but if I return to the fact that I can’t change the way other people function- and most people (even me…?!) function in this way- I am left with ignoring it to my peril, or trying to work within it as a reality of life.

This is where I am today. The concept finally crossing over that if I can learn to communicate with horses in their nonverbal language maybe I can improve my human communications too. Maybe that would help my husband-wife communication.

Maybe……..

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One thought on “Communication.

  1. This is an interesting post and a subject I have thought a lot about. There are so many miscommunications between people and we are the same species with shared language…it amazes me we are able to messages shared between our us and our equine partners when there are soooo many differences.

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