When I hear that old tired saw, "You need to show your horse who's boss," it gives me pause. I've never liked that approach any more than I like, "She's testing you and you can't let her win," or "You need to be the alpha mare."
"You need to be the boss," they'll say. Perhaps. But it's hard for me to wrap my head around the "boss" posture when we really want to be partners.
|Kessy & me lovin' a moment|
Equals? I don't know, that one I can't answer. I do know there are plenty of days Kessy is more equal than me. I also ponder the advice that you shouldn't project "human emotions" onto your horse. Really? Maybe not, but I'd rather error along those lines than be the kind of person who thinks horses don't have emotions. Or can't feel them.
Leader instead of boss? Semantics you say? I don't think so. I profess the words you think, and use, create your frame of mind and guide not only your conduct, but your emotions, feelings and attitude as well. And don't we all agree that our horses are tuned into all of them?
Remember my post a few months back about the power of the words we use for nicknames for our horses. Even if a horse owner thinks Blockhead is a cute name for their horse, you've got to admit it makes you feel different than when you say, Handsome. Same goes for "leader" and "boss." I think.
Thinking from the boss' perspective we might be more apt to demand rather than request. Correct rather than encourage. Even if it's a subconscious, innocent thing. I remember hanging on a fence one summer day watching a respected trainer give lessons. I remember too, how many times she called out to her student who was riding her lesson horse, "make him turn," or "make him stay on the rail," always, "make him," never "ask him." That was a long time ago, but I never forgot it.
A boss perspective will have a controlling atmosphere. Rather than a guiding atmosphere. "Someone's gonna be in charge, either you or the horse," they'll say. Yet you read all over the place how you should build a partnership with your horse.
A "leading" perspective will create a true partnership. Leaders know listening is as important as speaking and allow the time it takes to accomplish the mutual goals. They allow time for understanding. Leaders can see the missteps as baby steps along the way to achieving the goal. Leaders understand each member of the team shares equal benefits, and responsibility.
Leaders offer guidance, open the way, invite cooperation, and lead by example. In my mind it's a wonderful thing to say, "You need to be your horse's leader."
Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry