I'm not talking about you... I'm talking about your horse. I tell my horse all the time to stop getting offended. Horses get offended easily when we ask with the wrong pressure, the wrong timing, the wrong feel. It's easy to upset a horse. But in the end... if your horse gets upset, does that mean you should change what you're doing, or does it mean your horse should stop getting offended so easily.
There is no blanket answer. Each situation is different. I always encourage my students to speak with more finesse, to be more elegant in their requests. But occasionally you run into a horse that has learned to be upset at every request. If that's the case... at what point do you say, "Stop getting offended?"
The important thing with almost all aspects of horsemanship is to pay attention to patterns. Your patterns, your horses patterns, and so on. If the patterns become negative, for instance: always walking on eggshells not to upset your horse, you've got to break free of the pattern. You've got to be willing to be direct, even offensive (at least in your horses eyes), and train your horse to stop reacting to it.
Example: At liberty (training without ropes), you have to use your stick to direct the horses motions. Some horses do fine until you ask them to speed up into a trot or canter. At which point, the stick you're using is too much pressure for them, and they leave the scene, galloping away from you, creating a troubling outcome. If this becomes a pattern, does that mean you should stop using your stick, or hope for a calm day where he's not agitated so easily? NO! It means your horse needs to stop reacting when you use your stick. You can train him to stop reacting. You can train him to turn and run to you when you use your stick with intensity, instead of turning and running away.
There are thousands of different topics to cover here. This week I'd like to leave you with a simple message without going into all the possible scenarios. Here's the message: Don't get offended! Tell your horse not to get offended. And maybe, just maybe, if you're the type of person that gets offended, you can step up and show your horse how to not be offended too.
As a fun challenge in leadership, expose yourself to something that would normally offend you, ie: race, gender, politics, age, shape, anything... and don't get offended by it. Try it. Then bring that leadership to your horse and say, "If I can control my reactions, you can too."
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