There are times when your personal life, or the matters that come first in your life, come before your partner, your partner that you have spent so much time developing what you think is a perfect relationship. Well, I have a driving job that takes me away from my horse partners weekly. I am constantly aware of the dynamics that affect our relationships. How is my horse’s health, his/her environmental condition, have I been fair to my horse in my interactions that may have set up opposition to me in my next session or visit with him.
There are so many variables to this equation. For us to be in the best way with our partner, we have to be constantly adjusting the way we communicate with him, a new way in approaching this to result in our desired goal; BALANCE…between trust and respect which is always changing. This balance is one aspect I seek constantly.
Now that I have defined my goal, let me share with you what I deal with on a daily basis.
I am a truck driver. I drive to make a living. In 2002, I lost almost everything and have been working on getting back on my feet since then. So, balance with the time I spend with him compared to my need to make a living. I have also experienced a major epiphany to the way I deal with a horse’s relationship. I used to be controlling, do it or else type of person, who did not understand how to approach a lasting relationship. I have had the opportunity to see the contrast between the two methods of communication. Coercion and dominance which results in a diminished relationship, and my desire to develop a relationship based on trust and respect where both entities learn from each other. I try to always be aware of these conditions that affect how I deal with him.
That said, are we anthropomorphizing the way our horses react to us. In reality, the only thing the horse has as his first desire is to survive. To be safe in his environment. We, hopefully, have provided for him, through our actions, a means to avoid pain and discomfort, a bargain we make with them when we ask them to live in our world away from their natural world. Are we making up to our horses by providing these things where all they see in us is a means to get their treats and nutrition? Are we guilty that we are spending less time with them and try too hard to make up for it? The key to avoiding these pitfalls is to LISTEN to our horses.
I have in the past not listened to my horse and forced my attention on her and caused a reaction from her to oppose my actions.
“But, all I wanted to do is provide the attention I have not given her because of my time away from her.” My own guilt precipitated a dangerous situation. I rode her and forced it upon her when she was telling me she had a painful ovulation. I was riding her bareback with just a string and she did a little rear and a buck and off I went on the ground. And me one who says I listen to my horses. I knew in my sub-conscience that she was telling me, NO, but my desire to assuage my guilt came first. Can you see how we get ourselves into this situation that affects our relationship?
A horse does not hold grudges but will avoid a situation where they anticipate a bad experience through opposition to our actions. It is our responsibility to anticipate when they are going to react based on their prior experiences and never allow them to realize their anticipated results. It takes our constant attention.
These examples I have mentioned, have been experienced by many people in similar situations. Now, to deal with these situations as the horse sees us.
Are we taking the proper place in the social order with our horses?
1. Are we a herd member, or an Alpha who is providing a sense of security, leadership and a safe haven for our horse.
2. Does your horse look to another member of the herd for these needs and considers you beneath him in the order?
They are always asking us if we are the leader. When we, through our interactions with our horse provide them with behavioral parameters, we will answer these questions. By providing these parameters, they are secure in our leadership. Are we relying on treats to buy their attentions where all they see is a treat machine and go on their way when they see no treats in our pockets?
Treats cannot buy a horse’s allegiance. There is a time for treats and there is a time the comfort of our presence with them is their reward and their desire to be with us outweighs everything else.
So, between these two extremes, one can see that we can be where we want to be with our horses where they whinny for us and come running up to us.
BALANCE of these two are the answer. It is amazing how quick a horse will respond to the correct course of action we take. They know where their place in the herd is. We want our horses to be happy and we provide them with everything to accomplish it. Remember, a horse is not a human and does not react like a human. He/she is a horse first and our understanding of their nature will bring about about a balance that makes both you and your horse very happy.
SO STOP WORRYING!!!
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