I did some research to see if there really is something wrong with the way I stand, or if perhaps, maybe, a "powerless" pose helps a horse build confidence. After looking at many pictures, videos, and watching people do ground work with wild horses in person I began to notice there was a definite trend. The horses that looked calmest were with humans that had certain things about their stance in common. All of those traits were on the list of things that make a person "powerless".
Before I discuss the traits I noticed, I should explain a little about "power posing". A power pose is any stance that makes a person appear bigger. Standing up tall, hands on hips, chest forward, head up, feet spread apart, sitting with arms spread wide across the arms or back of a chair, doing any of these things can lend to a person feeling more self assured. This is part of what some psychologists call "outside in confidence" putting on the appearance of confidence outside to actually help you feel more confident inside. A "power pose" is meant to make the poser appear assertive to other people, but when you are dealing with a horse that is terrified, looking bigger only makes the horse see you as an aggressive and intimidating predator.
Below are photographs of people demonstrating what I would like to call a horseman's pose.
In Amy Cuddy's book she references studies she has done on how a person's blood chemistry in fact changes when a person adopts a "power pose" causing the release of some hormones and the suppression of other hormones. (If you are interested in knowing more about that study click the link here: http://www.businessinsider.com/harvard-amy-cuddy-power-pose-research-2012-10) Knowing how sensitive horses can be, it is my own theory that they can probably smell or otherwise sense that hormonal change and perhaps even be repelled by it. Of course I have no scientific proof of this, but my own observations of how horses react to certain people makes me believe it is highly possible.
Long story short, I have given up on trying to be commanding and imposing around other humans. The ability to attract a horse with only your gentle energy and quiet presence is profoundly powerful in my book. So which stance really is more of a "power pose"?
My next blog will focus on how to use "outside in" psychology to shape a horse's emotional state, and how they can be helped to pose themselves to be more confident.