If your horsemanship causes you to define yourself based on how well you adhere to a set of rules, your are suffering and your horse probably is also. If your horsemanship has not liberated you from mindless conformity to the edicts of the established horse world you are suffering and your horse is too.
Natural horsemanship is a window to see the real world. It gives one the opportunity to step out of the chains and leave the cave that Plato analogizes to the condition of those whose vision is limited by the illusions that they consider to be truths.
If working your horse does not cause you to grow closer to him as the days pass something is very wrong. When one seeks security by seeking a closeness to the horse, one becomes free. When one seeks security by constantly seeking out the rules that others have decreed about that relationship, one becomes a slave.
"Am I too tall for my horse? Is my four year old horse too young to ride? Which supplements should I give my horses? Am I sitting properly in a saddle? How can I best limit turnout time? If I use a bit am I being cruel? Is my horse fat enough?"
The list is endless. It is not a coincidence that the "answers" to questions like these always result in rules that financially benefit the horse industry.
Am I too tall for my horse? Yes--go buy a taller one. Is my four year old too young to ride? Yes--go buy a series of training videos on how to prepare your horse ad nauseum before a saddle touches its back? Am I sitting improperly in the saddle? Yes--buy more videos, and get a new saddle. If I use a bit am I being cruel? Yes, try every version of the $7.00 rope halter on the market, but make sure you pay at least $75.00 for it so you will know that you are getting a quality product. Is my horse in need of more fat on his frame? Yes, buy more feed and supplements, after all a fat horse is a happy horse and the obesity shows everyone how much you love your horse. Should I limit turnout time? Yes--if your horse is allowed to move about freely he might injure himself. Make sure that he is stable boarded, wearing shoes and standing on very expensive bedding.
For years it has been obvious to me that horses suffer horribly because of the dictates of the established horse world, but I am only now seeing the damages that those dictates to to horse owners.
A horse world that causes someone who loves their horse with all of their being to be torn because of a perceived need to sell the horse because she has been told she "looks" too tall for the horse is a pitiful victim of those dictates.
My disdain for the established horse world is rooted in the fact that it trades pain for profit. It makes money by promoting values that hurt horses.
The established horse world's disdain for people like me is that we refuse to pretend that they do otherwise.If one spends enough time with one's horse one simply finds that their is not enough time left for all of the scraping and bowing to Ole Massah and Ole Missus that the established horse world demands of us.