Sunday, December 27, 2015

For Some This Is My Most Offensive Belief

No, your horse will not pretend. He will not act as if he feels secure in your presence when you fail to exercise leadership.

A horse is not human. A horse is not a dog. A horse is a prey animal whose most important objective in life  is to achieve a feeling of security. The herd nature of a horse makes it impossible for a horse to feel truly secure when he is outside the presence of a leader.

Too many people feel that not only are they not fit to be a leader, they do not deserve to be a leader. Their self-esteem is such that their interaction with the horse is guided by one principle-"don't upset the horse."

Such people often consider themselves to be particularly sensitive and humane. While these are laudable traits, they are of little use to the horse if one does not exercise leadership.

The horse is seeking security not autonomy.

Do you find yourself feeling tremendously rejected and hurt if your horse is difficult to catch? Do you find yourself constantly making frustrating tugs on the lead rope because you don't "want to pull him too hard"? Are you horrified at the thought of picking up a whip in the round pen? Are you consumed with the idea that you horse needs to approach you in the pasture before a ride? Do you constantly fret over whether or not you have pulled the girth too tight? Do you feel justified in giving up on a particular task because your horse "just did not want to do that today"? Are you unable to control your horse under saddle because of a nagging feeling that he resents you trying to tell him where to go? Do you feel that being  hugged, rubbed and brushed by you is not an adequate reward for your horse? Do you think that in order for the horse to approve of you you must provide him with the constant array of treats?

Take a moment to examine your life. Who convinced you that you simply were not worthy of leadership? What did they say or do to you at such a young age that made you so insecure in all of your relationships that you cannot really enjoy your horse because you spend every moment with that horse worrying about whether or not you are offending him? At what point in your life did you first conclude that he really did not deserve respect? What caused you to first fear that honestly expressing yourself would cost you the affection of those in your family?

Why do you consider yourself, at your very core, to be a failure?

And most of all, why do you feel that you do not deserve to be loved?

You don't have to stay that way. There are many kinds of healing that horses provide and this is one of the most important.

Your horse can teach you to stop hating yourself.  Read that sentence again.

 It's real.

It matters.

Your horse needs a leader. Being a leader is not the same thing as being a bully, even if every human relationship that you have had in your life caused you to make that equation. No, being a leader means that you can be relied on one in a crisis. Being a leader means that you work to ensure that no crisis occur. Being a leader means that if a crisis does occur you immediately work to put it back together the pieces and restore a sense of security to those around you.

The very unfortunate truth is that, no matter how much you may wish to, you cannot provide for your horse's emotional needs while continuing to loath yourself. I work very hard to train my horses using 51% control and 49% affection. I am not remotely embarrassed to hug, rub, and even kiss a horse that I'm working with.

Equally important, I am not remotely embarrassed to punch a horse in the neck as hard as I can if that horse tries to bite me. If you are too embarrassed to do both of these things you are letting your horse down, and you are letting yourself down.


Dawn Elmendorf said...

Very well stated! Great article! I have found that horses have taught me so much about myself and given me so much to sit quietly and contemplate about myself!

Kathy said...

Right on! Good article!

Hugh Atkinson said...

Awesome article!

DianneW said...

I did sometimes feel justified in giving up on a task because my horse "just did not want to do that today". Horses have bad days just like people. A secure leader can change her mind.

And in one instance that I can recall the horse did much better on the task the next day.