I heard a comment last week that really made me think. It was during a demonstration of horsemanship and there was a horse that had an issue when they went near the mounting block. It would, as I've seen other horses do, swing its behind so that is was facing the person. This position, unless you are a gymnast, makes it almost impossible to mount and is an avoidance technique used by some horses.
When the owner was asked how long it had been going on for they said it had been getting worse for the last two months. She added that he must think that by doing this he would get away with not being ridden and would be able to go back to his field, where he could happily frolic, eat grass and play with his friends. Basically, it was a massive way of avoiding any work and a manipulation technique to get his own, obviously lazy way.
To this comment, the person doing the demonstration asked what happened and she replied that they just gave people a leg on and he had, every time he did this behavior, been ridden anyway. He had never been taken back to the field, avoided work, or had a lazy afternoon basking in the sun, having fooled his clever owners by turning to face them.
Now as I'm listening to this I'm wondering how it is then that this horse has decided that avoiding the mounting block leads to a life of leisure and complete avoidance of work, when in fact that had never, ever, not once been the results of this action. Why was it that there was an assumption that the horse was being naughty, disrespectful or any of the other popular assumptions people can make when a horse does something we might deem as undesirable.
There had been no attempt to think about why he was doing it, in terms of what might actually make sense in his world. The fact that he was a riding school horse and may be finding his work hard, may be in pain or that the multitude or sometimes terrible riders that were forced onto his back, were having a negative impact on him physically or otherwise.
Why is it that there seems to be a swing towards our horses being evil geniuses, who will at any and every given opportunity try and outdo or manipulate you? Why would anyone want to have one of these cunning little devils, if they are in fact will fully lazy, cheeky at best and evil at worst?
Are people just trying to create permanent situations where someone has to win and someone has to lose? The relationship battle with their horse where you always have to be on your guard, never allowing yourself to be too soft or stupid or else the horse will always get one over you. Should we take it as a personal attack on us if our horse doesn't comply? Maybe they are trying to communicate something or simply don't understand what it is that we want.
Surely, if we have taken the choice to have a horse in our life we can put some effort into making the relationship a good one. One based on really understanding our horse, using their own language and intellect and not based on our own, often warped perspective.
It amazes me that people will have the expense and the emotional drain of owning a horse, without reaping the incredibly benefits of a harmonious and respectful partnership with their horse. Is it just about winning, being more dominant, important or powerful? Do our horses have to be the butt end of our insecurities and ego, when in reality most horses are desperate to feel safe, content and useful? Don't they and we, deserve to approach the relationship with an honest and open minded attitude, allowing the potential of a wonderful, deeply respectful and life changing partnership?
I personally feel that you miss out on learning more about yourself, the world and improving your life if you draw the battle line between you and your horse. Isn't there enough situations in your life where you have to fight, struggle and feel let down? Don't bring those emotions into you equestrian life and build instead a bond and relationship with your horse that makes you feel like you could take on the world, with your horse lovingly at your side.
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