Why should a horse do anything I say?
Not because I’m the boss or a “leader.” Leadership is an insecure position. It requires constant worry of being challenged, ousted, out muscled, and when we play this game with a horse, we ride on a slipper slope. A 1200 lb animal can pretty quickly figure out we don’t know what’s in their best interest better than they do, and we certainly are no match for their strength.
Equine herd dynamics are far more complex than we originally thought anyway. Leader/follower relationships aren’t really concrete in the horse world. Here’s an interesting article on the subject:
A horse won’t listen to me because I say so, unless we get into dominance methods which are crippling to the mind and spirit, but I know my readers aren’t interested in this.
What lasting benefit can I offer a horse that they can’t get on their own, better without me, from their herd, their quiet life that I interrupt?
Horses are peace seekers. What I can offer is centering, balance, and peace with me. I can offer a better physical state through bio mechanically correct work. I can offer emotional regulation, freedom from fear.
Whenever I encounter a horse who resists something, I need to stop and think – what is preventing this horse from choosing this, and how can I make it peaceful?
Equine events, exhibits, demos, shows are full of displays of what people can make horses do. It gets quite exciting – walking through fire, shooting guns from the saddle, fancy movements- but I think a real achievement is a peaceful ride with a peaceful horse, choosing to work with you daily.
Photo by Nina Fuller