Ah good question. Sharing language is not manipulation. The gestures (P1, P2) are invitations for a particular response. The horses must cooperate (co-create the dance) in order for it to “work.” Manipulation would imply that the horses are psychologically controlled (by fear and conditioning) — which is not the case. They certainly are not controlled by being in the barn with that flimsy gate. I’ve seen horses run through walls to get out of riding rings when the trainer was putting too much pressure on them.

If we did extended workshops, we would keep “upping the ante” until both you and the horse were out of the comfort zone, and everything would be made up on the spot — new gestures, new responses. The horses showed us that they were willing to become a “we” which is a new unit of action. Remember how one of the horses kept trading who was leader and who was follower — and sometimes it became too fuzzy to know? That is how flow feels in teams.

“Without a specific and pre-defined outcome” … that is tricky. You begin with known territory that can be shared (the language, the postures, the positions), then the dance begins with known gestures, and then it becomes this co-creative dynamic. Somewhere along the line a “new shared intention” begins to form — and both partners begin to visualize an emergent outcome. Like jazz, the improvisational riffs begin to turn into a “song.” It’s like playing “Is it Toast?” without starting with a specific word. The person who is supposed to have the word, merely allows the questions to shape the word in their mind, by the way the group starts to circle in on something they are “looking at by looking for.”

Does that make sense?

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