Fox Point Farm

Rethinking Introvert/Extrovert Strategies

Finding Balance, Peace and Harmony


By Charlotte Cannon     revised 3/20/18

 

The simple strategy of “slow down for introverts; speed up for extroverts”, I learned from the Parelli Horsenality grid, may need some rethinking.  It’s not that simple.

 

I have seen incredible results from Pete Rodda’s Playground of Safety. The waiting, allowing the horse to self soothe is remarkable.

The waiting and letting the human self soothe, and become grounded, is even more remarkable.

I see where we still need to match their energy in responses, like crowding our space and/or pulling on the rope.

If we are too slow to Tick Tock (when they crowd us) or brace (when they hit the end of the rope), the horse will mow us down or drag us away.

Relaxation on the frisbee with a focus not on the horse is the main thing in the exercise, but we must match energy in our reactions to be effective and remain the leader.

 

In Pete’s Walk the Line to maintain leadership we must turn before the horse passes us, which often is pretty fast with an extrovert. We must use the speed necessary to stay slightly ahead.

Speed up/fast is not the best word to use here. Match or exceed by 1% in the correct moment is likely the better description.

 

I was at another clinic this weekend given by the talented Lindsey Partridge. The biggest asset I thought she had was the authentic control of her emotions. I saw her calm assertive energy as really being the force that made the clinic excel.

 

The slow down for introverts and speed up for extroverts is a Parelli concept. I see that it misses the point, it only addresses what we see in the moment.... we must ask ourselves, what are the horses innately?

 

Thinking out loud, are there really introverts and extroverts?

 I wonder does it come down to the way we process information?

I like to bring information outside my body, whether it’s talking, drawing or writing, I process things where I can see or hear or touch them.

There are people who like to process things in their heads first, then bring out the finished product.

 I wonder if this processing inside or outside the body is at the true foundation of introvert and extrovert?

 

That difference in processing exists in people, and also in the horse.

Who is to say that an extroverted horse is not an introvert, pushed outside (blow up) by a person’s extroversion and energy?

Pete certainly showed me where this was true with me and one of my horses. When I changed and brought everything inside and settled it, my horse did exactly the same thing.

 

I saw Lindsey tell an ‘introverted owner’ with a highly ‘extroverted horse’ that she was not being authentic with her horse, and that her horse was angry/frustrated/reacting to that lack of balance in her (the owner ).

The owner was nervous and afraid, quite reasonable considering the horse’s behavior. He had kicked her lightning fast when she was trying to follow instructions.

After kicking his owner, Lindsey put him in a roundpen. Alone in the pen, he moved around, as several of us observed.

Then Lindsey went into roundpen and started mirroring him. She moved quickly and nervously, stopping only to look at the things that concerned him.

Once they seemed to become a single moving unit, she offered a slight ‘drawing’ change. She stopped following him, and started doing something more focused and less frantic.

His response was so fast, it was crazy, the horse just took the hint and calmly followed her lead.

Then she got the owner to come into the pen and she walked out. The owner was understandably nervous, and stood there frozen. The horse quickly felt the loss of leadership and became agitated again.

Lindsey told the owner to start pacing back and forth. She wanted her moving her body like her mind, and her horse, were moving.

The horse instantly settled and watched her.

Lindsey reentered the pen and started walking with the owner doing her ‘Calm Connection Exercises’.

Although they (Lindsey and the owner) demanded nothing of the horse, the horse pricked his ears and started closely following them.

It was as though the calm, assertive energy and the clear plan (the exercises) were comforting to him. He wanted to follow and be a part of that energy. Soon Lindsey stepped away and the owner kept doing the patterns with her horse right on her heels. It was amazing!

 

This made me think about how we must find what is truly inside our horses minds.

Are they truly extroverts at all?

Or are extroverts just blown up introverts, that are showing extreme displaced behaviors?

 

They must be a range here, there are no black and white answers.

 I’m wondering what ideal looks like for a horse and for a human?

 Introversion at the extreme is someone or something pushed deeply inside, as a protective or defense mechanism.

So is extreme extroversion a similar thing, that develops to protect and defend, by being offensive vs defensive?

Maybe both things are an individual’s way to control people and situations and self comfort.

 

I’m thinking this Ray Hunt technique is spot on:

feel for the horse- go where he is, and feel what his control and defense mechanisms are.
feel with the horse - mirror the horse’s behavior to create a common bond.
feel together - mirror your horse plus 1% of what you desire to draw him into change. You can change him 100% by 1% at a time.

 

The only problem with Ray’s technique is that it assumes the human has found physical, mental and emotional balance. The key is to find this balance in oneself first.

 

The horse, once trusting and following, will mirror the human. If we are not balanced, our horse can never feel balanced.

We must find a way to ‘draw’ or allow the horse to balance, instead of ‘driving’ or demand it to become balanced.

Only when the human and the horse are given the space to find the balance themselves, instead of having it told to them, or forced into them, will there truly be peace between mind and body.

Once the leader has found peace and balance, then both (the human’s and the horse’s) minds and bodies can find peace and balance too.

 

This is where harmony and ‘true unity’ begin. This is where horsemanship becomes art.

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