What is Sensory Soundness?
“Awareness of how horses communicate, essential. Understanding how a horse is communicating, priceless. Defining physical rhythms harmonized through emotive cadence, invaluable. Sensory Soundness; the thread that binds the physical world with the emotional horse.” KMT I invite you to come with me on a journey of discovery as we explore the magical world of Sensory Soundness; the place where the physical realm and the sentient horse are woven together. The fabric of life and all its experiences are a collision of moments absorbed through the senses, filtered through the mind, expressed through emotion. All of which unite us with the horses we love. Profoundly speaking, sensory soundness is the fluent intersection between corporeal and cognitive senses, connecting the physical world with the emotional horse. In its basic simplicity, the sensory system is tasked with what amounts to clearing the space for the body to move through, quite an important business indeed, especially for an athlete. For this to happen affectively, the psychological sweeper must broom the road at least twice as fast as the rate of physical motion. Many things rely upon the sensory processes, including herd structure and hierarchy. There are indeed multiple layers and a myriad of influential ingredients that come together to create a horse’s herd dynamic, none of these more impactful than the union taking place within them. The senses connect the horse to their herd and themselves to the environment through the communication of information, and though every horse has access to their environments through common avenues, the interpretation process is subject to the experience of the individual. In nature horses with less than efficient sensory systems can depend upon the emotional camouflage of their peers to find harmony and contentment. However, in the domesticated environment this can become more elusive. Among the most difficult things for a herd animal to do is operate independently of their nature. Isolating them exposes individual strengths and weaknesses, both of which are hinged upon the measured degree of their sensory efficiency, or soundness. The sensory system is a constantly running sequencing of information; identifying, distinguishing, processing and responding to that which is absorbed. The capacity to do so without interruption or need to outsource represents fluency; a level of high functionality and a mark of the ever elusive but most desirable trait in the athlete, Independent Nature. The reality is, very few horses realize sensory independence. Most horses operate on a dependent/co-dependent basis which is itself a natural binding agent for herd structure and hierarchy. A horse lives by the laws of their nature. Where they fit into the herd, how they interpret their world, how they learn, how they are coached and ultimately how they perform, is governed by the rules of that nature. It is our responsibility to understand the horse, it is not their responsibility, to understand us. It is common to focus on physical structure for soundness; pedigree and body-type most certainly have their role to play. However, horses are not inanimate. They are emotionally driven, sentient animals and everything we hope they can become is predicated upon who they are. It is a failure in horsemanship to overlook the fact that the operating system is running the machine; unlike investing in a race car, with a horse you are getting both car and driver. After more than 30 years of researching the intricacies of Herd Dynamics and Sensory Soundness, it is my goal here to continue to develop and offer educationally based services that strengthen your understanding of the unique characteristics that define the individual, provide you with practical tools, a platform for knowledge, and an avenue for learning. Our passion for horses and the desire to further our appreciation of their intrinsic beauty binds us on this journey. I will share with you all that I have learned and all that I have yet to discover as I travel ever deeper into the mind of the horse, through seminars, clinics, courses, mentorships, books and more. I hope you will join me, for if we are not thinking forward, we are already behind. ~Kerry M Thomas
"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 and effort, to understand it." ~ Kerry M Thomas