I was told by my teacher to never look at my horse. Instead, look where you want to go. This teaching is a big fat lie. WAIT! WAIT! I don't really mean that :) I'm just exaggerating for fun. Those who know me, know I like to have fun, so don't get offended. And in case you do get offended, read this article next.
I'm not going to talk about lies and truths anymore. I'm going to talk about reality. In reality... you have to look at your horse to get information about how their positioning and how they're feeling, and how much you need to support them. If you strictly look where you're going without looking at the horse you miss valuable information. And of course, if you only look at your horse instead looking where you're going you might run into a tree.
The point is... have a flexible focus. Look where you want to go and look at your horse. You can do both! Plus... looking at your horse isn't threatening to your horse. Acting like a predator is. But looking isn't. Try it for yourself and notice how your horse can tell the difference between a friendly look and a predatorial look.
Its true, that the first time you interact with a wild mustang or an extremely abused horse, you may have to avert your eyes and turn down your natural energy. But after those first few interactions your horse should start to learn and trust your intentions. Once he or she does, looking with your eyes is okay. Coming full circle, not just okay but important. You need to see your horse. You need to see what's going on inside that brain. Ironically, if you hide your eyes, it can cause you to look sneaky. Sneaky like a predator. Be yourself. Be kind. Be open. Be soft. Before you know it, you can look at your horse without bothering him or her.
In conclusion. It's okay to look at your horse. Not just okay, but important. Look when on the ground, while grooming, while asking for movement in any direction. Notice how the body lines up to perform a task or shapes up to ignore you. Look while riding, notice how the body is preparing for things. Don't fixate on any point of focus. It's not natural to fixate where you're going or to fixate on your horse. Have a flexible focus, absorbing all the information you can from your horse and environment.
Good luck and have fun with your horse.
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