How should we train horses? This is a question I have been thinking about a lot, maybe even my whole life. The reasons for this are:
1: I know things can be done much better, but I can’t seem to “get the message across to everyone.” Only to those who are really interested.
2: I really do believe the “negative reinforcement guys” (at least those I know…) when they say “the do what they do, for the best of their animal” I don’t agree, but I do believe them!
3: I have been surprised about the pressure I receive, even when I can PROVE, it can be done better (warmer and softer). Usually they react as if they think I have a death wish…
And in there lies our answer… It is about a primitive form of FEAR! But that way of hardness is buried SO deep in all of us, our genes, and fibres, , it’s so hard to uncover it, or even find it in ourselves. Or even IF we see it, even almost impossible to change it, this fear is so entrenched, influenced us, and has taken on so much disguises, it’s almost impossible to untangle the ropes holding us in the dark. Those wandering in the light are warned, that the light will burn you!
Some of their arguments are true too, to a point, like “A soft-educated animal shows more ‘spoilt’ behaviour.” The word ‘spoilt’ is of course an ‘illusion-construct-word’ maybe unconsciously, but VERY deliberately inserted to justify themselves, opposing to softness. (Do you see how this works?… Keep this in mind…). What actually happens, is that the animal expresses “freedom of will an/or expression” in a (to them) threatening situation…
For these people, a soft training process is a self fulfilling prophecy born to fail, because if someone, with these “primitive” thoughts tries to train a horse in a soft way, the fear and desire for force will always remain visible to an animal. We THINK we can fool them, but in this respect THEY are MUCH smarter than we are!!
So what really happens, is that they present themselves to the animal with an image of a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” If I were a horse or a dog, I wouldn’t trust them either, I tell you! I think I’d even prefer the “ bully-tactic”, at least that’s clear and simple… Simply so, because an animal has a strong desire to stay alive TOO! We must never, ever take that away from them!
Doing things the hard way is a thing that comes forward in all aspects of the human mind, primitive and full of fear. Personally I think it has to do with some of our more primitive instincts as a predator species, that the attack is the best way to stay alive. Nonetheless, this is what brought our human society to where it is today, so, to many (NOT ALL!!), it seems to works well! It gave us the society in which we live today…
When a human like described above sees something, actually ANYTHING, that conflicts with their belief system (whether a religion or a strong opinion and everything in between) like one of us doing our “thing in a successful way,” an unknown religion or unsettling scientific results, a special psychological process occurs called “Cogintive dissonance”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance
What happens internally, is that they see something “Impossible” happening, of “So dangerous or crazy, but yet, still happening before my very eyes…” or something similar, so powerful and shocking/revolutionary, the internal belief system takes a hard beating, and therefore may become damaged, and inevitably might fail totally….
(In fact, if one even gets to this point, there are already major cracks!!)
To compensate for this, the human brain produces 2 options:
1: To go with it (the seemingly unattractive, dangerous rabbit hole, which might even cause more stress and discomfort)
2: To erase the cause of the dissonance (the easy was, the way most do it, history does it, ignoring proof and holding on to old belief systems, i.e. sticking the head in the sand!)
The big thing here is, that only path 1 will lead to spiritual, intellectual and/or emotional freedom, all mandatory required to genuinely be there for a horse. To become totally authentic, free from others collective opinions, the past, your personal ghosts, and whatever more. This is the path in where true kindness and friendship will lead to a process of MUTUAL training from which both can and will profit. This is the way of the World!
To let go of ones’ personal belief system in a particular matter, is one of the hardest and bravest things a human can ever do. Those who’ve been there, know this. It is both frightening as overwhelming. It takes you by the heart, seems to go straight against “ better judgement” but it will actually liberate a human.
We are born without these belief systems (to be as a child), and gradually are pulled away from authenticity by all that surrounds us. To a state, where we find ourselves entrapped in economy, mortgages, educating, religion, and, yes, also training methods…… unhappy….
If we’re successful in becoming authentic, happy and free again, we will see that Life itself (or destiny, or whatever on wants to call it) will reconnect with us in ways we cannot comprehend. In that we also find the way to a peaceful being and training with the animals…