Tyrant or Submissive
What is it in reality that often goes wrong within the human and horse relationship? What is it that either makes the relationship dangerous in the end or causes it to lack faith and trust in-between horse and rider? There are probably multiple reasons for this, but today I have decided to put some attention on one of the reasons that I think can be the cause for this.
Back in the days the relationship between horse and human was very much relying on the human giving orders and the horse blindly following every little wink from its two-legged master. Punishment was not a rare sight and nor seen as a problem at the time. At least not everywhere or by everyone. Then through the past decade it has become more and more recognised how horses (and animals in general) actually do have feelings and thereby a change in how these animals are handled arrived as well. This of course does not apply to everyone, but I do believe that it is a general tendency that we are starting to look more for the partnership with our horses rather than a slavery.
When new trends arrive there are always people who tends to take it too far and in some situations I think this has happened within this horse/human-relationship revolution too. Do I mean that some people are too kind to their horses? No – in no way. What I do mean however is that I am convinced that we can be “so good” that we do our horses a disservice by accepting everything without ever chalking up any lines. Actually in order to make it clear what I mean I would like to give an example from the human world…
In the human world as well as the horse world we have loads of different kinds of beings, but in this example I want to pull out 2 specific types of personalities. These of course are the extremes, but that usually makes the point more clear. The types I wish to talk about are The Tyrant and The Submissive.
The Tyrant: In a relationship the tyrant will always be the one who decides the rules, who makes the final calls, who bullies those below him and who generally rules his “kingdom” with a very rough hand. This one often do not have a very high amount of self-confidence, but instead of becoming the submissive this person uses roughness to hide his insecurity. People usually fear this guy and take every chance to avoid being in his presence.
The Submissive: In a relationship the submissive will be the one who always back of, apologise for something they maybe didn’t even do, follow the rules out of fear and have no say in anything. This one will have a terribly low amount of self-confidence and will most often end up shutting down completely because they have surpassed themselves for so long. People usually end up taking advantage of this person – on purpose or unconsciously – because they can never say no.
In the end neither of these persons are well-functioning, happy or sound people. They just ended up in different situations and turned out as two different personalities. Now what did this have do to with horses and our relationship to them? I will show you! The reason why I have chosen to point out these two extremes is because from where I see it a lot of horsemen back in the day would match the description of the tyrant very well in their way of handling horses. Today we have developed so much knowledge about the horses and many of us have so much respect for these animals that we sometimes become SO AFRAID of doing anything, because we are afraid of harming our horses or doing them wrong. What then happens is that the human ends up matching the description of the submissive instead. The other extremity of on the scale. The reason why this is a problem is that no matter what, one part will be suppressing themselves and that damages the soul and mental healthy of horse as well as human.
So… In my relationship with the horses I always try to look for a middleground. Of course I make sure to be kind to meet the needs of my horses, but also I make sure to do my best to keep my own ground at the same time. I do that, not only for the sake of my own mental health, but also in order to become a stabile, reliable partner for my horse. It is no secret that a healthy relationship between two living beings demands justice, patience and the ability to respect and listen to each other. Neither as the submissive nor the tyrant will both horse and human be able to fulfil these abilities. Therefore I find it to be of huge importance to not only be fair to your horse, but also to be fair to yourself. If the horse is overstepping your boundaries, tell him instead of staying silent and accepting of something that is NOT okay. Yet do not forget that the same rule applies the other way around. If the horse is telling you that you are overstepping his boundaries, it is your responsibility and duty to listen and back off.
In the eyes of your horse you need to be a good, trusting and reliable example. A good example does not allow others to step on them, a good example is always fair, a good example respects himself as well as others. In order to maintain all of these abilities that a good example should have you need to make sure that you initiate a respectful, equal partnership. Your horse will not that some days he needs to do as you say – maybe in order to go to the vet or something else of importance – and other days he knows that he will have the say and be allowed to share his ideas for your time together. We all like to be with people who are grounded and have a solid self-confidence. People who do not feel a need to prove themselves, but are always reliable and can be trusted. You can’t be that if you never have an opinion, do not listen to yourself and instead takes the place of the submissive. Then your horse does not have that solid rock to lean upon when he is insecure or scared and he will search for a place to be exactly that.
The point of the story is that it is of great importance that you evaluate the relationship you are currently in with your horse (and people for that matter). Take a look at it from an outside point of view and be honest about what you see. Does your horse understand when you say no or tell him that there is something he needs to do and do you listen when he does the same thing? If only one of you are being heard in the relationship as it is now, then something has to change. It simply will not work in the long run because one of you will end up becoming depressed, frustrated or something else that we absolutely do not want. So this is not an encouragement to be more controlling of your horse nor an encouragement to give up all control. This is an encouragement to make your a relationship a healthy one in which you BOTH have the space to grow as individuals.
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