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September 17, 2019 2 Comments
Defining Disrespect - by Don Jessop
When a horse pulls on the line, is he being disrespectful?
If your answer is yes... then to whom, or to what is he disrespecting?
If a horse kicks his hind leg in your direction when you send him out to circle or lunge line... is she being disrespectful?
If so, then to whom or what is she disrespecting?
I think you're smart and that's why a pose these kinds of questions. A dumb person wouldn't read into the horse's reasons for doing things and instead assume the horse is either a bad horse or a good horse. But you're not dumb. If you're reading mastery horsemanship articles and watching mastery horsemanship videos then you're ahead of the game. You're smart and that means you can help figure out the question of disrespect.
By definition, disrespect means - a lack of courtesy, lack of kindness, rudeness, negative reaction to good intentions, flippant ignorance, lack of response or poor response to pressure, or blatant lack of awareness to communication.
So in that light, is the horse disrespectful when he kicks out or pulls back in response to suggestions? The answer is yes. So the next question is to whom or what is he being disrespectful at that moment?
Is he/she disrespecting you? Is he/she disrespecting your communication? Are they the same thing? Answer: No, they are not the same thing. You don't want to be caught out being the kind of person that takes everything personally. Don't feel like just because your horse kicks or hides when you try to catch him that he disrespects you. Instead be more like the master who says, at that moment, the horse disrespects the pressure or signal or suggestion.
I say, at that moment, because when a horse is demonstrating negative reactions, he/she does not deserve the title of "disrespectful horse" for the entirety of time. It's a moment by moment experience with horses so be careful not to place labels that stick.
The answer to whom or to what, is usually the part that matters most in this whole conversation. Too many people take things too personally. Are you like that?
Horse not wanting to be caught.
But then some people say: "Then who is to blame?" Are you to blame? Is some past trainer to blame? NO!!! The answer is simple.
Answer: Mother nature is to blame.
She wired prey animals to avoid predators. But the answer and the solution are two entirely different topics. If you're looking for answers, you're looking in the wrong direction. What you need is solutions. The solution to the horse not wanting to be caught is simple. Go make it clear to the horse that being caught is ten thousand times better than not being caught. By doing so you ensure you're not acting like a predator and you help your horse to stop acting like a prey animal. There are dozens of techniques, so be creative and don't get stuck on one technique. Just follow the principle that catching has to be ten thousand times better than not catching. Now notice how we took the pressure off you or some irreversible past experience. You're not the reason your horse is not catch-able. But you very well could be the solution. People who get caught up taking it all personal tend to lack the ability to guide their horse past the problem. Don't be like that. Be proactive, creative, and less emotional about what your horse does.
Horse kicking at you.
Maybe you caused it, and anyone who's good with horses pays attention to what causes a horse to react, but what great trainers don't do is take it personally and think that their horse hates them now. Just because your horse kicks, doesn't mean he hates YOU. He might just hate being told what to do. Don't take it personally because your emotions blur your next actions.
Horse biting you.
Maybe you caused it. If so, learn from it. But don't take it personally and wax on about how your horse just doesn't love you anymore. Horses bite and kick and buck and rear. Learn how to direct it and correct it, but don't take it personally. Don't get offended.
Horse bucking you off.
Same thing. Don't get offended. Learn what stimulus is causing the behavior. Then teach the horse to be okay with the stimulus or change the stimulus if it's dangerous.
Horse wanting to be with his friends instead of you.
Don't get offended because no matter how cool you are, you'll never be as cool as a horse to another horse because YOU ARE NOT A HORSE! Let that stuff go. Don't make your horse be your friend. Just ensure he responds to you, then ensure you connect on a friendly level often enough to support your safety and communication related to the goals you have. Let your horse be a horse.
Horse won't go in the trailer.
Horse won't take food treats from you.
Horse won't look at you.
Horse won't relax or stand still.
You name it... if the horse won't do it. It's not your fault. I'm not saying that you don't play into it. Of course you do. Your role is to be a solution to the problem by not getting offended and instead, keeping your eyes open to stimulus related reactions. I've never met a master horse trainer who gets worried that his or her horses don't like him or don't trust him. Re-read that last sentence because I didn't say they don't think about it. They do. I do all the time. I just don't worry about it. I often think about how to be a better leader and friend, but I don't get upset, distracted, or despondent when my horse acts like a horse. I just read the situation as stimulus related reactions and go about teaching the horse to stop reacting or I go about changing the stimulus. It's that simple.
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