" A horse lives by the laws of their nature. Where they fit in to the herd, how they interpret their world, how they learn, how they're coached, how they
ultimately perform, is governed by the rules of that nature; it is wise to make an effort, to understand it." ~ Kerry M Thomas
Herd Dynamic Capsule Bits & Tips
|Posted on June 17, 2022 at 10:25 AM|
Herd Dynamic Capsules, Bits & HD Tips
“Herd Dynamics Matter; every horse, every discipline, everywhere…” THT
First introduced in the introduction to our 2022 Kentucky Derby Analysis (see Big Race Analysis), I continued to collect and save my wide assortment of scribbled notes from cases we’re working on to articles I’m writing and save them in “Herd Dynamic Capsules”. As some of you may have noted on my recent YouTube shows for THT TV, I have started to incorporate a Tip-Of-The-Day, and what follows is along those lines. As I work on show ideas, advancing our racing & sport-horse services, create articles, research papers and new seminars and clinics, I began to consciously save these HD Bits & Tips and wanted to make them available as part of our ongoing website updates.
I hope while you’re here you will enjoy our new look, our updated links section where my Herd Dynamic Series on Australia’s “Canter Therapy Podcast” hosted by Dr. Shelley Appleton and Kathryn Christieson can be found. Also check out the new Services Section with added Sport Horse Disciplines including the brand-new Photo-Expression Analysis service and our new Rugged Posh Gear line on the THT Store.
The store has a special place for me personally because all proceeds go into our new THT’s Destination Hope program, where we provide services and aid to human/horse therapy NPO’s. As this program continues to get its legs, I will be creating its own section on our website to explain more and to share the stories of the programs we’re helping.
Special note of interest, I have every intention to start offering more Herd Dynamic Clinics not just in the USA but abroad, and if you are interested in hosting or just in getting info and updates, send us a message through our contact form with the email address(s) that you’d like for us to use.
As always, thank you for being here, your time and your interest is appreciated.
"The first step in realizing your dreams, is believing that you can…"
~Kerry M Thomas
85% of herd animals are inherently dependent for 50 to 55% of their environmental interpretations. Translated into athletic performance this compromises total herd dynamic strength. This is not to say that they cannot achieve athletically, it does mean that the larger body of work will be predicated upon environmental assists that upper level, more herd dynamically sound and independent individuals do not experience, especially under competitive stress. ~Kerry M Thomas
Sensory Soundness is vital for mind to body fluency and the optimization of physical talent. Holes in the sensory system require outsourcing, outsourcing to assist the interpretive aspect weakens herd dynamic strength. Under competitive stresses this is expressed through a feeling of isolation; separation anxiety from herd structure is an antagonist which creates performance unease. ~Kerry M Thomas
Affective mind to body fluency requires balance, a natural cadence between the herd dynamic and the environment. Horses with an independent herd nature harmonize themselves from within and are less likely to over-express with non-purposeful movement. Horses with a dependent herd nature are inclined to outsource in order to find harmony between self & environment, which makes purposeful motion vulnerable to environmental caprice. ~Kerry M Thomas
Mental fatigue and “wear-and-tear”; the road to performance can be littered with emotional detritus. Recognizing and staying ahead of these performance compromising issues means clearing the psychological path and building in “Rest Stops” for human & horse alike. ~Kerry M Thomas
Coaching through the natural herd dynamic is of vital importance lest you be antagonistic to it. Nurture the horse, develop the athlete, means identifying “who” the horse is by nature so you can set realistic goals for “what” they can become. Your vision for your horse needs to align with the horses’ perception of themselves through the lens of their herd dynamic. ~Kerry M Thomas
Psychological growth is the result of experience blended with tendency and occurs most affectively through a harmonious relationship between environmental experience and inherent nature. The primary sensory aspect through which stimulus is processed leads the way in uncluttering the physical world around the emotional horse. In upper-level horses there is efficacy in the sequence where stimulus is identified, funneled into the psycho-sensory for interpretation resulting in an independent, purposeful motion. Associative, co-dependent learning occurs through secondary aspects where stimulus identification is outsourced for an interpretive-assist before translation into physical movement.
Psychological “growth patterns” are representative of individual growth occurring through either experience’s influence on tendency, or tendencies influence on experience. In order to coach properly, you must recognize the difference. High level herd dynamic horses have more than one primary aspect to draw upon, allowing them a greater degree of adaptability to situational chaos. ~Kerry M Thomas
A riders’ tendencies and the horses character traits must be compatible in order to optimize mental ability and physical talent. Riding with fluency means understanding herd nature as a whole and the inherent nature of the individual so that your mind flows freely through the horse’s body. The natural herd dynamic allows for efficient communication between horse and environment as well as horse and peer; human interpretation of environment is communicated through the sensitivity of herd nature. When fluently connected, the relationship between environment and horse is translated through human emotion; communicate better, ride with fluency. ~Kerry M Thomas
Be it performing as an individual or competing in a herd structure, stress is a factor. Because of this, the two parts of every would-be horse athlete needs to be considered for ability & talent. There’s a significant difference between a physical distance time-ratio and psychological time-in-motion. The merger between them represents the stress-attrition-aggregate, accumulative stresses negatively affecting total performance.
These equations and their ratios are vital to understand in order to properly structure training and coaching programs and for setting achievable goals. Where accumulative stress compromises the total athlete, both mental and physical fatigue, measured separately, can be countered with proper preparation. It is folly to “train” the physical athlete and think the mental will be equally in step. Psychological preparedness should supersede physical demand. For example, if it takes two minutes of physical exertion to complete a task, mental aptitude should be prepared for four. ~Kerry M Thomas
High level athletes have the capacity to operate independently of their inherent herd nature and have identifiable characteristics of this. The ability to keep psychological time with the rhythmical changes in the environment is chief among them. This high-functioning herd dynamic trait allows the horse to anticipate and adapt, adjusting their physical motion purposely to move through the environment and not be moved by it, (herded). ~Kerry M Thomas
Where equipment works in partnership with the physical horse, the rider must work in partnership with the emotional horse. Viewing ourselves as an “emotional accessory” helps to nurture our human/horse relationship. ~Kerry M Thomas
When your horse “sees ghosts” … The lack of environmental interpretation, more easily masked while standing, creates sticking points when in motion causing residual expression. It is essential that you do not ask your horse to process secondary stimuli, (or task two), before task one has been properly filtered. Among the greatest training impediments are when the physical horse moves into another sequence while the psychology is still processing the initial. This deepens outsourcing dependency and places the burden of filtering on you, which requires calm confidence and consistency lest you facilitate the horse’s associative aspect. Subject to the emotional environment in which it is activated, this leads to a point of contention and makes a horse what we refer to as “sticky”. ~Kerry M Thomas
Training and workouts can be very misleading when it comes to gaining an understanding of competitive nature on the race track and actual performance capacity in the arena or cross-country course. If your horse “falls to pieces” emotionally when you get to your event, or looks great in the morning but falls short in the afternoon, it is because the largest part of physical training is being run through the Group Herd Dynamic alone. Unlike the competitively underwritten Individual Herd Dynamic or IHD, the GHD allows the horse to mentally adapt to physical activity, or “mentally rate”. The horse becomes harmonized to his/her environment which allows for physically advancing while mentally lagging behind. Coaching tip: change training locations as often as possible to engage IHD stress management. ~Kerry M Thomas
Instinctive tendency verses learned behaviors. Instinctive tendency relates to how a horse naturally reacts to emotional and environmental stresses where learned behaviors are introduced conditioned responses. These two things must align in a relatable manner for training to be truly successful and not antagonistic to herd dynamic nature. ~Kerry M Thomas
Equine PTSD is conveyed as emotional instability when expression is managed through the Anticipatory Response Mechanism based purely on the associative aspect. Trauma and negative experience engage basic survival instinct, making self-preservation a moment-to-moment sequence that interrupts the capacity to identify and interpret two similar experiences and/or emotions as being singular. This dramatically separates the compartments of emotional stability; moments of calm are over-exaggerated (depression) as are the moments of agitation, (anger). ~Kerry M Thomas
You can’t reasonably expect to make an average athlete great, but it is reasonable to expect not to make a great one, average. ~THT Bloodstock