Horsemanship: The skill of riding horses; equitation.
Equitation: The art and practice of riding a horse.
Nowhere on the face of the earth is there a more convoluted human activity. No license, no basic requirement of one’s knowledge, skill or understanding is required. Simply plonk down the a few dollars, drag him home and blissfully join the ranks of those elite humans who refer to themselves as ‘mounted,’ (while completely oblivious to the chaos they themselves instigate while leaving the Horse to bear the burden of their ignorance).
Muddled with the highly emotive elation of conquest and the archaic traditions of animal training, they continue to blindly rape the intrinsic spirit of God’s greatest masterpiece in the animal kingdom. Lo that I am a member of this species who call themselves masters of the universe, for they violate not one precept of universal decency, but two.
In our judicial courts of law, we hear it said time and again that, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.” If there is some consequential judgment of our life on earth in the hereafter, we can only hope our supercilious refusal to ‘look past the end of our nose’ for six thousand years is somehow forgiven.
Above all let us hope that when the time comes, that the Horse is not standing next to our Judge, and that justice will not be mercilessly dispensed with ‘an eye for an eye.’
The following is several replies and an abridged description of a basic format that, if followed, would not only eradicate every behavioral ‘horse problem’ ever known to mankind, but allow every horse to happily enjoy his servitude as much as is humanely possible. For truly, there never was, nor ever will be such thing as a ‘bad horse.’
Chuck Mintzlaff & Kids
Lady, Able, Sundance, Boss, Rebel & Combustion (and N i k k i)
I regret the length of the two replies, but feel it most pertinent to clarify what many have come to regard as the next step in the evolution of the human/equine relationship. While I firmly believe this to be in the best interest of all domesticated horses worldwide, I have no desire to alter the centuries-old, time-honored/tested methodology and protocols of Classical Dressage. I only offer the potential to enhance it in a holistic sense and make the journey for both horse and rider/owner safer, more enjoyable and pleasant (as it would for any mounted activity).
The following is a reply (actually two) that I made to someone who had recently brought a new horse into their herd. There was no initial, preliminary ‘period of introduction’ as the new arrival was literally ‘thrown in’ with the rest of a small herd of long association.
I am sputtering a bit here, trying to find the right words in the sincere interest of a fair exchange of knowledge and a non-offensive communication of different ideas and beliefs.
In that venue, I’d appreciate it if I could point out a few differences in our formats when initiating a new horse to an established herd. To me, throwing a strange horse into an established herd without any opportunity to ‘get acquainted’ is a recipe for unbridled chaos and the injuries resulting from that chaos that is only surpassed in callous indifference by locking a horse in solitary confinement.
To clarify any possible misconceptions, I live by “Primum non nocere,” (first, do no harm) which includes using as much forethought as possible to ‘Protect and Serve’ (in lieu of present day speciesistic management and training practices).
All my horses have an emotional value that no material or monetary reward on the face of the earth could ever match. Consequently, I would never think of placing any horse in my care ‘in harm’s way’ in any situation that could potentially lead to unnecessary mental-emotional-physical pain or permanent disability/death (it doesn’t take a very hard misplaced kick in the throes of insular territorial, protective-aggressive chaos to maim or break a horse’s leg). In short, I feel very privileged with this ‘opportunity of close association’ so much so that ANY horse in my care is very precious to me.
As such, I feel a very deep sense of personal responsibility to learn all that I can about the Horse (Equus Caballus) but NOT from ‘trainers.’ Equine animal trainers have had their chance for 6,000 years and as far as the Horse is concerned, nothing much has really changed. Granted, we no longer tie small wild animals to their tails and brandish red hot irons to their rectums. But one only has to peruse a few Internet group email lists or horse magazines to see they are filled with a disproportionately increasing number of ad hoc, anecdotal solutions to ‘bad horse’ behavioral problems. When in reality, the Horse is NOT some problematic creature put on the face of the earth to frustrate and confound humans who attempt to ride him. On the contrary, the Horse is one of the most honest, straightforward, gregarious creatures you will ever find who has remained unchanged for tens of thousands (possibly millions) of years. It is only our self-centered needs that govern our ill-conceived/ill preconceived perceptions.
Instead of seeking ‘trainers’ to further our knowledge of the Horse, I would strongly recommend investing a little time in gaining a better understanding of the animal we are dealing with first. (In lieu of the ofttimes self-serving, anecdotal perceptions of the aforementioned ‘trainers’ who use singular ethological aspects of equine behavior and herd dynamics to legitimize their training formats.)
That would mean gaining knowledge and enlightenment from the more objective, unbiased books and empirical studies of equine ethologists and research scientists entailing the complete aspects of equine behavior and herd dynamics (and becoming better acquainted with the differentials of Equine Ethology and Equine Etiology as well).
A few I would suggest (though there are many others) would be:
*Beck, Andy, “The Secret Life of the Horse,” E-book.
*Grandin, Temple, ‘Animals in Translation,’ Simon & Schuster (2004)
*Kiley-Worthington, Marthe, Horse Watch: The Equine Report, J.A.Allen & Co Ltd (2005)
*McDonnell, Sue, The Equid Ethogram, A Practical Field Guide to Horse Behavior, Eclipse Press (2003)
*Waring, George, Horse Behaviour 2nd edition, Noyes, (2002)
Andy Beck’s E-book, “The Secret Life of the Horse” is a very comprehensive ethological study that is Internet accessible. The free articles alone on the site are very educational and enlightening for anyone who is interested in learning exactly WHAT they are dealing with first. (Which enables them to make a legitimate comparative analysis as to the devastatingly counterproductive and chaotic effects present day management and training practices have on their horse.)
Another prerequisite for gaining a more thorough knowledge and understanding of equine culture and natural environment herd dynamics is the videoed story of a wild mustang named Cloud chronicled by Emmy Award winning filmmaker, Ginger Katherns. The VHS or DVD can be purchased at:
*Dr Francis Burton “The Horse’s World” Chapter 7 http://www.gla.ac.uk/external/EBF/uhcc7.html
*Note. I do not receive any type of compensation for recommending the aforementioned. I only do so in the hope that others may also benefit from gaining a greater knowledge of the simple yet complex social structure and culture of horses in their natural environment (just as many of us worldwide, and our horses, have benefitted).
But as for me, I would have first given the ‘new addition’ time to safely assimilate the external stimuli of his new home (environmental habituation) isolated by himself but with ‘over the fence’ access to the herd. After a few days, I would have reversed the situation and ‘kept the herd in’ occasionally while the newcomer gained access to their home grazing pasture. This provides a ‘yin/yang experiential balance’ that somewhat reduces the defensive/aggressiveness in the newcomer because after exploring his new situation, he would gravitate back to the ‘new herd’ he had just been forced to join. This also tends to minimize at least to some degree the instinctive ‘insular/territorial aggressiveness.’
Initial isolation can be safely accomplished using a fencing material made out of used five-foot wide conveyor belting that anyone can get for almost nothing at a FedEx or UPS distribution center. It is impossible for a horse to get a foot or leg caught in it if they strike at it or kick through it (unlike chain-link and other types of fencing). The posts (eight feet apart) are 6″ by 6″ by 10′ (imbedded three feet into the ground) and the top rails (bolted to the posts and also wrapped with the belting) are 4″ by 6.” They could kick at each other all day long without self-inflicting injuries (or injuring the horse on the other side) but could still easily reach over to confront, play/touch and smell each other over the top rail.
Later, I would have isolated the ‘lead mare’ adjacent to the new member with the same ‘belting-barrier fencing.’ When both of them had accepted each other, I would have put them together and stayed with them to reaffirm ‘my acceptance’ of the newcomer into the herd until I was absolutely certain their tolerance of each other was outwardly nonviolent.
Once that was accomplished, I would have set up a scenario whereby I was present when the two of them reentered the herd. Between the lead mare’s acceptance and my own, (as I am ‘herd Alpha’) I would have set the ‘rules of engagement and acceptance’ and shaped the relationship by severely chastising any herd member that acted aggressively toward the newcomer. This final social integration would have included purposely giving them ALL treats at the same time.
To me, when you fed the original four herd members, you did not include the newcomer and thus told the ‘original four’ that in no uncertain terms, “The newcomer is NOT to be included in the herd.” When you went out yesterday by giving the rest of the herd treats to ‘make sure there was no jealousy’ you lost another opportunity to shape the herd dynamics by not including the newcomer (thus alienating him even more). I would think this separatism/favoritism to be conducive to isolating/alienating the newcomer rather than accelerating acceptance for total integration.
Of course when we leave the herd, we have no control over interactive herd dynamics. But at least by using that method, I would have removed any guilt I may have felt if one of them DID get injured (as I did what I believed to be my very best to prevent it from happening).
Insofar as ‘cognitive acceptance through example/observation,’ I coincidentally happen to be privy to what can only be one of the ‘experts’ in that field. Able is a ‘dyed-in-the-wool, born competitor that actually ‘studies’ other horses at competitions. I found this out quite by accident many years ago when we were finalizing the shaping of our ‘going out alone to new places where there were many strange horses’ pattern/phase of our relationship. In fact, he had to emphatically ‘show me’ his rather unique ability three different times before I fully understood the depth of his extremely perceptive cognizance. But that’s a story that may be a bit OT. Suffice to say, any horse seeing others in the herd accept close proximity, tactile associative interactives with a human certainly cannot possibly be detrimental.
Chuck & Kids
Lady, Able, Sundance, Boss, Rebel & Combustion
The following day after the horse’s arrival, the new owner impulsively decided to ‘try him out’ hoping that he could ‘stick in the saddle’ if the horse bucked while ‘looking for a soft place to land.’ To me, this was a childishly impulsive (if not deleteriously dangerous) form of insanity. Why on earth would anyone EVER put a horse in that position??? Perhaps it is just another example of the seemingly intrinsic need humans possess when succumbing to our compulsive/obsessive ‘rush to ride.’ While my reply is an abridged version of the actual format used, it does cover the fundamental basics.
Again, perhaps ‘different strokes.’ (Or possibly more of a vastly different philosophy, perception, goal and intent.)
It would make absolutely no difference whether the horse was wild/feral and had never seen a human being before in his life, what developmental stage of ‘training’ he had received previously, or anything in between.
The very first thing I would do, as I said before, was allow a new horse to get ‘settled in’ for at the very least a month (if not longer depending on the horse) until he had at least grown accustomed to the sights, sounds, smells, prevailing weather, herd hierarchy and developmental water-food consumption patterns of his new environment.
When I was satisfied he was sufficiently acclimated to his living environment and accepted in the herd, I would first teach him all his basic ground and mounted cue/request responses in an open, restriction-free environment for numerous reasons.
- Restriction of any kind is a mental, emotional, instinctual endangerment to the Horse.
- Using restriction in the preliminary stages of the human/equine relationship-building process is an unessential ‘crutch’ of archaic animal training and one of the core causals of all ‘bad horse problems.’
- Using restriction in the preliminary stages of the human/equine relationship-building process decisively casts a self-limiting relationship that is counterproductive to the ultimate levels of what many consider ‘true horsemanship.’
I would also completely avoid the use of any aids such as whips, clickers, ‘sticks,’ (or any other unessential ‘training aids’) in this entire process.
*The Horse has no need for our linguistic abilities, our opposable thumb or our ‘technological advances’ to proficiently propagate his species. (In fact many of our great ‘technological advances’ are proving to be a form of suicidal human genocide.)
Though his thinking processes and logic may be a bit linear compared to ours, (as well as sharing completely different social/cultural/behavioral standards and morality) he is by no means the ‘dumb animal’ many perceive him to be (or would like him to be). He certainly can tell the difference when one type of relationship is offered to him over another.
Thus I would present these lesson plans using the protocols and standards of the more harmonious Peer Attachment relationship instead of the dominance-submission ‘herd rank’ format of the normal intra-herd relationship (which is often an extremely adversarial/confrontational relationship that has been the basis of ‘training’ for 6,000 years). By initiating THIS type of relationship, we would attain the deeper enhanced levels of RECIPROCAL trust, understanding, communication and intimacy that are absent from the normal intra-herd relationship.
I would use a combined verbal/hand (and where applicable body) cue-request for each request/response that I taught him. This is extremely beneficial for numerous reasons.
#1. It helps altering the horse’s awareness to verbal communication (as the Horse’s primary mode of communication is physical/body language) and aid the associative learning process.
#2. It lays the ground work for transference to very minute tactile cue/requests in mounted activity later.
Included in those hand-voice cue/requests would be the use of three distinctly different levels of “no.” This would give me the latitude ranging from simple appreciative guidance and minor correction (without causing apprehension/fear or resentment) to the absolute forbiddance of any physically hostile/aggressive communication directed toward me.
I would also use a positive intermediate bridge cue/request as an appreciative support expression and a distinctly different one for final acceptance / approval. Due to the situational learning environment, this ‘ final acceptance / approval’ expression would hold a much greater value to the horse than the normal ‘comfort/discomfort’ release of traditional training.
These initial interactives would start out with very simple requests such as Back, Stand and Come. Once those initial preliminaries were imprinted, (which only takes a few minutes a day) the ‘lesson plans’ would become more intricate and involved while alternating with ‘whole body tactile interactives’ utilizing Reiki, T-Touch (or any others) and would also include ‘foot work.’
*As soon as possible, the ‘foot work’ would include Jamie Jackson’s natural hoof trim (as too many numerous empirical studies have revealed traditional ‘shoeing’ to be detrimental to the natural action and growth of the equine hoof).
Once imprinted, others would include turn on haunches/forehand, side pass, Gee-Haw, ‘come to halter,’ Free Leading, Free Longing, Hold Still and tackless plowing.
In addition, the horse would learn the ‘Calm Down’ cue (instant head lowering/release of endorphins actuated by a fairly loud verbal only cue/request) pursuant to (and specifically for) later mounted activity. This cue/request would ONLY be used in the possible but often unpredictable event of hyperarousal/stress situations during mounted activity when ‘riding out’ later in the process. There would naturally be a secondary reinforcement cue to instill cortical override and neutralize other apprehensive but less overreactive circumstances and situations.
Teaching a secondary verbal encouragement/reinforcement cue (intermediate verbal bridge) versus the ultimate approval/completion reinforcement of “GOOD BOY” would also be essential.
After that, I’d gradually introduce him to more restrictive situational interactives such as halter leading and ’round pen work/lunging’ (which would be perfunctory and more of a situational associative game because he’d already learned how to lead, lunge, etc, beforehand ‘at liberty’). The underlying essential of the ‘game’ being the initial physical conditioning within the realm of Classical Dressage protocols. The latter of these restrictive situational interactives being to accept ‘walking into a small, dark deadend cave’ without enough room to turn around much less escape from often referred to as ‘trailering’ or trailer loading. As with other instinctually fearful elements of domestication, I would allow another horse to minimize his initial apprehension instead of making any attempt to ‘force him’ into the trailer.
All of these request/responses could be taught as soon as a foal/yearling started on solid food (with the exception of rotational work and proportionate weight-bearing exercises to produce greater bone density and bone mass).
Habituation to accepting me on his back (at the proper stage of physical development) would be incrementally sequential and include riding other horses up to give him a few treats numerous times (followed by a little bareback/tackless riding in a safe zone/area).
As I had used both a simultaneous, combined hand-arm / verbal method of communication for each cue/request he had previously learned, it would be very easy to transfer them to extremely minute tactile cue/requests during mounted activities.
Habituation to mud puddles, creeks, etc, and going swimming with me accompanied by other horse owners and their horses would be essential, (as well as good fun!) Add: sirens, gunshots, flashing bright lights, loud music, umbrellas, honking horns, all types and sizes of vehicles and introductions various species of other animals.
At this stage, we would additionally ‘go out for walks’ daily. In the beginning, the walks would be very short and gradually increase in duration and still later increase in distance away from the other horses and his ‘safe/home environment. Coupled with the intensity of the previously established Peer Attachment relationship, this would appreciably minimize any possible ‘separation anxiety.’
In the process, we would develop a very intimate rapport, and establish an ‘us against the world’ inter-reliant, co-dependent (meaning mutually dependent) ‘herd of two within the herd’ relationship.
Once they reached an appropriate level, the ‘walks’ would be replaced with mounted activity and again, ‘going out alone.’ There would be no resistance, apprehension or hyperarousal to ‘saddling up’ as it would simply be curiously but nonchalantly regarded by the horse as “yet another idiotic, ridiculous thing I had thought up for the two of us to do.” Preparatory to any mounted activities, I would teach the horse to immediately stop when the saddle either slipped far off-center or fell off.
As with the ‘walks’ we had done earlier, it would be important to establish a daily routine of ‘riding out’ each day (at least five if not six days a week). Initially the ‘rides,’ (like the walks) would be very short in both duration and distance. Gradually, as the developmental pattern of reciprocal trust and communication grew in an ever-changing new environment over a period of months, the ‘rides’ would also extend longer and longer. Their intent and purpose would be twofold (associative/relational intensity and physical conditioning).
As they were extended, periodic P&R exams would be made to ascertain levels of physical conditioning and continued throughout the ‘riding process’ (not unlike Endurance and CTR protocols). Also during this phase, varying primary elements of Classical Dressage principles would be incorporated for the horse. It is ‘assumed’ that the rider had already developed the knowledge, skills and dexterity to ‘ride WITH the Horse’ and neither interfere with his movements and carriage nor cause ‘rider-induced lameness’ (or the ensuing negative associatives of rider-induced discomfort).
The last phase of the process (total associative/relational finalization before entering into ‘training’) would be ‘trailering out alone’ to various different equine events and activities to complete the bonding process. I would leave teaching the initial acceptance/habituation to entering a horse trailer to another more experienced horse. I would never ask the horse to enter the trailer only upon my singular bidding until he had fully accepted entering it on his own terms.
To minimize any ‘traveling apprehension/separation anxiety,’ the first few trips would be very short (initially not even off the property) and made with a companion/partner horse. Once the horse was habituated to ‘trailering alone,’ we would simply go to various open places to ride a few minutes together and return home shortly thereafter.
Naturally, I would always make certain there was ample hay and a treat to reward and keep the horse occupied during the ‘trip’ and to leave some compensation for the inconvenience (and to develop at least some minimal ‘positive imprint’ to help overcome the very life-threatening/frightening experience of leaving his family and safe-home environment rumbling around the countryside in that ‘small dark cave’).
These trips would gradually increase to first spending time at the fringe of parking areas at various equine events and activities. In the beginning, neither the horse nor I would leave the immediate area around the trailer we had arrived in. This would gradually change at different events to hand leading/walking together on the fringe of the event and amongst other vehicles and trailers in the parking area.
This would then gradually escalate (again staging at various different events, trying never to go to the same one twice) to riding around/amongst other participants, watching the other horses compete at the events together and still later, entering various events for the singular purpose of habituation/situational familiarization to complete the pattern/imorint of absolute trust and bonding.
Given the extreme sensitivity of the horse’s olfactory senses, his instinctual fear-flight/survival reactivity, and his mental emotional need for stability in his living environment amongst associates he knows and trusts, we can only (at our very best) vaguely imagine what absolute terror a horse must experience that is simply traditionally ‘trained’ and immediately carted off to enter/compete in an event in a completely new environment. (Especially a ‘new environment’ that is far from his home and associates where the air is saturated with scent molecules of apprehension and fear from other STRANGE horses and accompanied by the sounds and smells of a completely new and STRANGE environment.)
Each escalation of the entire process would be pursuant to growth of new neural pathways and the proportionate degree of cortical override previously established.
Still later, to familiarize the horse with having a bit in his mouth (as some activities, events and disciplines require them) I would use the most noninvasive, ultra-lightweight, copper (or copper coated) bit I could find that the horse approved of and readily accepted. I would do this only AFTER making certain wolf teeth and other dental examinations were made to insure there was no pain or discomfort to the horse caused by the bit.
Needless to say, as soon as possible somewhere in the early development of our relationship, the horse would be given a complete physical exam including primary blood panels for obvious reasons.
The format would also cover a wide range of various aspects concerning total environmental enrichment (as it should for all domesticated horses) including, but not limited to; nutrition, hoof care, physiology, living environment, mental/emotional stratification, prevention of rider induced lameness, (or the negative imprint/association of discomfort caused by rider ineptness) continuity of long term associates and physical conditioning.
While adequate shelter would be provided, at NO time would the new horse (or any others in the herd) EVER be ‘stalled,’ (the exceptions being illness/injury or severely inclement weather) as solitary confinement has proven to be physically, mentally and emotionally detrimental.
Regrettably (as more than likely he had been denied any learning experiences of associative equine social/family/culture) I would also make absolutely certain he was NEVER ‘alone.’ (There are numerous rescue horses with infirmities that are begging for a good home, at the very least one if not more of which should be found compatible.)
At no time throughout the entire process would I ever have to apprehensively ‘look for a soft spot to land.’ On the contrary, the horse would do everything in his power to take care of me (Peer Attachment) and keep me in the saddle (out of ordinary break in pattern). If the cinch broke (or for any reason I fell) the horse would immediately come to a swift stop out of simple concern.
*Twice (if not many more times I was in all probability blithely unaware of) my life was saved, and that of the horse I was riding, because we had complete trust in each other’s judgment and nearly telepathic/telempathic ‘reciprocal’ communication at all times in all situations.
This entire process would take a whole riding season to finish (or possibly more depending on the degree of PTSD imprinted from previous ‘training’). But in the end, I would have a horse who was mentally, emotionally and physically fit to joyfully ‘go anyplace/do anything’ with me.
Not FOR me, but WITH me.
There is a very definite difference.
Each time we went out, no matter where we were, or what we did, or who we competed against in what type of event or activity, it would be an adventure shared by two entities that not only literally ‘trusted their lives with each other’ without reservation, but thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company and relished the required involvement of ‘competitive challenge.’
And in that end, once we reached that stage of development, we would finally enter into ‘training’ together as a singular entity indiscernibly composed of nearly equal parts of horse and human.
It is at THAT point in time that we would seek the counsel of a legitimate ‘trainer’ for a chosen specific event, activity or discipline. For up until this time all the teaching, all the interactives were not goals in themselves, but tools to establish and solidify the deepest, most intimate possible levels of the human/equine relationship. Thus the clear distinction is made between those who regard themselves simply as ‘horse trainers’ and those who have dedicated a large portion of their lives to developing great expertise in a specific type of event, activity or discipline.
At no time would there ever be any indecisive ‘guessing’ on either the Horse’s part, or my own.
At no time, would the horse ever have to have his ‘edge run off’ by lunging to tire him out before riding as a training or behavioral issue as that would be completely counterproductive (as well as an absolute waste of equine essence). Instead, I would seek to appreciate that spirit and channel that energy as a priceless shared gift.
At no time, would the Horse ever experience ‘learned helplessness’ or the spirit-killing demeanment of absolute submission. Instead, he would learn that at least one human has no need or use for absolute dominance (and that a human actually can be a trusted friend who would never put him in harm’s way).
At no time, would I ever have to worry about any of the liabilities resulting from traditional management and training practices (such as resistance, balking, runaways, biting, being run/barged over, kicked or bucked off).
Other than that, the best part is that we both would have completely avoided the plethora of preconceived/ill-conceived ‘bad horse problems’ that continue to fill equine magazines and Internet group lists.
The philosophy is simple. If I am the ‘owner’ of a horse, then I feel it is my personal responsibility to make absolutely certain that his life in the domesticated world he is held prisoner in as noninvasive, pleasant and conspecifically conducive to his nature, understanding and ‘way of going’ as it can possibly be. (Environmental Enrichment pays so many dividends it is impossible to list them all here.)
The perception is also simple. I view the domesticated horse (emotionally and mentally) as a small abused child, separated from his family and friends, isolated far from his home whose language, morality and culture are completely different from our own. I am not ‘humanizing’ them in any way. But I find the comparable equivalent of human experience and ‘role playing perception’ of teacher/mentor/caretaker of a small child not only helps me gain insightful patience and understanding, but also tempers the human ego bent only on goal-seeking achievemental ‘training results.’ It also allows me to continually reaffirm that there is no such thing as a ‘bad horse’ (only archaic perceptions of ‘training’ that result directly from the speciesism stigma of 6,000 year old cultural and relational traditions).
The goal is simple too. I have no need for ‘a well-trained animal,’ (nor will I EVER have that need). My personal ‘need,’ (and that of an ever-growing number of others) is to share that deep, soul-fulfilling completeness of the ultimate human-animal bond with each horse I ask to carry me. I find great personal satisfaction utilizing this format (as have others in Australia, the US, England, Scotland and Germany) as well as enjoying the obvious very practical benefits.
My ‘intent’ has no need for station or peer recognition. My intent is to make the life of the domesticated horse less insanely chaotic, and to enhance and share the ‘joy of living’ that is intrinsic to all horses.
Of course not everyone will share this logic. There are some who will fall victim to the momentary elation and sensation of personal accomplishment they experience when successfully training a large animal to do something (commonly referred to as the ‘lion tamer syndrome’). Others possessing an overabundant genetic predisposition of the ‘risk factor gene’ may find the tempting gambler’s challenge of ‘beating the odds’ and ‘breaking’ a horse so overpowering they cannot resist ‘jumping on and riding.’
And too, there are some who have no need or desire to share any emotional attachment with their horse (or other humans). [Which in itself could open a Pandora’s box discussion concerning the depth and range of equine emotions.]
In any case, the final answer as to what is ‘right or wrong’ for our horse cannot be decided through any critical philosophical discussion of anecdotal opinions. But rather it will only be found in our own hearts and minds through the empathy we feel for those we ask to serve us, the understanding we strive to gain, and a deep sense of appreciation that includes a commitment to learning ‘above and beyond’ the accepted norm of the status quo.
Some may call it empathy. Others may feel a deep sense of personal responsibility for a very unique and precious entity. I see it as both but in the vein of simple, practical logic and question why would anyone create adversarial confrontations that only serve to demean and diminish when there was no rhyme or reason to do so. For if all horse owners followed this basic format, there would be no more ‘behavioral horse problems,’ and all those ‘bad horses’ would soon disappear from the face of the earth forever.
*Anecdote. An emotional and perceptual metamorphous occurs in the initial segment of the developmental process (ground interaction establishing the Peer Attachment relationship) that indefinably alters both the horse and his mentor/teacher. ‘Indefinable’ because to date, no one has been able to accurately articulate the exact nature of this transformation to their own satisfaction.
In many cases, this effect also seems to alter the entire herd dynamics even though only one horse in the herd has shared the Peer Attachment process with a human.
Sincerely, Chuck Mintzlaff & Kids