Thoughts on fairness
Today, while talking to friends, I got thinking. Pressure is a sensitive thing. When does it become "force" and unfair? I have done (and still do) mistakes in both directions. I have used too much, and poorly timed, pressure during interactions and it has left me sleepless. I have also misguided turned to anthropomorphism, and ended up unclear and not helpful for the horse I was working with. That left my horse sleepless. Both ideally should be avoided. Sometimes we are too strong because we lack skill or patience. Or a better plan. Sometimes we are too weak because being assertive makes us uncomfortable. We all have our reasons, I believe most of us do the best we can. And we all need to constantly work on doing better, regardless of where we are on the scale, for the benefit of our horse. Like Nahshon so beautifully says;
“That horses offer themselves to us as a path to self-mastery is truly an incredible gift of grace and light leading us to becoming more clear with our intentions and questions beyond our paralyzing fear of them. That they teach us how to change, because we are the problem, that is the magic of horses.”
I am not that poetic and think of myself as a practical person, this is my internal guide in an effort to keep me on the right path. There are basically two things that I try to always correct (meaning increase pressure as much as necessary) quickly and consistently. The horse may never run me over. No exceptions. This is a basic safety rule, after all they weigh over 1000lbs, and react quickly without consideration at times. They need to never doubt the importance of staying out of my space, even (or especially) when they are fearful. Interestingly I find once they know this without a doubt it often helps them cope in stressful situations. They can trust I don’t waver.
The second rule is they have to move off my leg. Everything else builds of this basic concept. That’s it. My goal is to never correct a movement itself, or any other request. Instead, when I have problem, I try to break the movement down step by step and fix the links that are broken on the way. Sometimes that brings me all the way back to “move off my leg”. All other parts that are broken above that simple request basically requires me to work on my own communication and skill, not punish the receiver of the faulty message. This is what I strive for. Of course I know I don’t always succeed, but I will die trying.