“OUTER ZERO” VOLUME
The best way to clearly communicate with horses is with planned, deliberate gestures. When your inner intensity level is calm or Zero, it does not mean being too quiet or tentative. Horses prefer us to move with purpose, be aware of the environment, and be confident leaders. Quiet, confident assertiveness equates to “calm” for horses. It tells them, “All is well.” In addition, being calm promotes mutual trust because horses aspire to stay in this state.
Most of the time horses whisper with their body language. A peaceful head nod, tiny twitch of the tail, the intention to pick up a foot with a shift of balance, these say all they need to another horse. Occasionally, a horse shouts or yells a message at another with extreme gestures or movement, but usually horses say what they need to at the lowest volume necessary. Even if they “turn up” the volume, they are experts at then turning it back down, calibrating the movements of their language precisely.
Horses do not want to waste energy by bickering with one another all day or holding on to a grudge. In order to ensure safety in the wild, they want to stay quiet and not call the attention of predators with noise or hoofbeat vibrations through the ground. When a horse asks another for space, he may simply swish his tail, then throw his head, stomp a foot and, finally, kick or bite. As soon as the other horse moves, everything goes back to Zero on the outside as well as on the inside.
Horses are good at this, but we have to practice. For the sake of mutual conversation, it is vital you understand how to adjust the volume of your own movement in response to theirs. You can learn to mimic their language and adjust your volume with the appropriate intensity.
To make this easier, I have assigned numbers to represent the levels of intensity of physical movement or volume you might use in a conversation with a horse. I use five numbers: Zero, One, Two, Three and Four. As the numbers increase, so does the size and/or emphasis of your movement. I like to use numbers to label these “levels” of conversation because there is no emotional attachment to them. Indeed, there should never be any negative emotion in any of the conversations you have with a horse, no matter how large your gestures become.
In general, Zero on the outside is like Zero on the inside: it means complete calm in mind and body. What does Outer Zero look like? Zero intensity, energy or attitude doesn’t mean you are not doing anything; Outer Zero is the way you are doing it, physically. Zero has different postures. You could:
• Bend one knee to cock your own hip sideways---the way horses do.
• Put your hands in your pockets, soften your gaze, and drop your head slightly while breathing deeply.
• Look at the ground and “blow out” a sigh.
• Make your body look limp like a rag doll.
We all develop our own versions of Outer Zero around our horses.
The next phase of intensity is Level