Our next step would be understanding the clear distinction between ‘training’ and prioritizing/establishing the Peer Attachment (friendship) relationship with our horse.
To do this we would first have to have to understand the distinction between building an extremely intimate relationship with a horse and ‘training.’ Using this alternative paradigm the horse would first learn various cue/requests in an open area where he did not feel the apprehensive, oppositional pressure of confinement/restriction. These would include; Ho, Back, Stand, Hold Still, Forward Motion, Fall in (come to my side) Walk, Trot, Lope, Side, Gee/Haw, Good Boy/Girl, three levels of ‘No,’ three levels of ‘Move,’ Kiss and Come. *Teaching these cue/requests would be regarded only as a tool to develop a specific type of relationship and NOT goals unto themselves. As the abilities and cognitive processes of each horse is different, there would not be the expectancy of any time-oriented goal-setting.
Once adequate levels of reciprocal communication, trust, understanding and intimacy had been attained, the horse and his owner would then proceed to sequential mounted activities. At that juncture, the needed hand-body-verbal cue/requests used previously would be easily transferred to various very minute tactile cue/requests. Again, the sole purpose of the habituation to mounted activities would to solidify the mounted relationship. As the mounted relationship reached fruition, the horse and his owner/rider AT THAT POINT IN TIME would seek the expertise of someone who had mastered whatever activity, event or discipline chosen for participation.
Together, they would then enter into ‘training’ for that activity, event or discipline physically, mentally and emotionally as a singular entity composed of nearly equal parts of human and horse.
Throughout the ENTIRE process, (and continuing for life) the singular goal of utmost importance would be always be maintaining that very intimate relationship.
Sending a horse out to be ‘trained’ by someone else is not only surreptitiously self-defeating, but also perilously deleterious for numerous reasons.
- Whatever actions/reactions/responses someone else can force your horse to respond to has nothing to do with what the owner/rider can do with the horse.
- Quite often, whatever the horse has learned to do (or not do) at an out-source ‘training facility’ soon fades when returning home.
- The probability of the horse developing other bad habits (and/or dissociation with the owner/rider) is an occurrence that happens all too often.
- There is no liability to the ‘trainer’ if the horse becomes sick or injured unless negligence (or extreme abuse) can be proven in a court of law.
Our present society has advanced well beyond needing the Horse as a transportive means of survival. Yet his archetype and charisma is so deeply imbedded in our psyche we have brought him with us to this age to be used strictly for sport and recreational purposes. While bad ‘behavioral/horse problems’ disproportionately continue to grow in ever-increasing numbers, it is to be duly noted that in the last generation a keen interest has been expressed by horse owners worldwide to better understand the Horse, his culture and natural environment, and how he perceives the domesticated world we bring him into to serve us.
As this keen interest generated greater understanding and empathy, it evoked the desire for a more intimate, connected relationship. Far from the perceptual stigma of a half century ago, it is now commonplace for horse owners to express a desire for sharing that more intimate relationship with their horse.
But until this alternative paradigm was offered, there has never been a systematic, step by step format that gives every horse owner the ability to attain that idealistic partnership with their horse.
Marketing ploys and emotive catch phrases may momentarily give someone the feeling they are ‘doing right’ by their horse but unfortunately they are meaningless to the Horse. For they can only judge us using their standards of fairness within the realm and sphere of their understanding, comprehension, instincts and culture (not our’s).