Why? Horse arguments don’t work for many of the same reasons that other arguments don’t work.
Please follow along for how this applies to people and then to horses.
Arguments Are Often Born Out of Frustration
When we want things to be another way but don’t know how to change them, arguing can become a trap.
Nobody wins when we fight, because no one really wins in an argument. In an argument each person is sticking to a point of view without regard for the other. Often people just end up raising their voice or repeating the same thing over and over to justify a position even when it clearly isn’t working. When that happens, nobody wins.
We should all be winners. If we listen and pay attention, we might actually learn something of value. We may develop understanding and empathy for what is going on which may give us insight on how to improve the situation. It probably makes a lot of sense from the other’s point of view. If we keep arguing, it just becomes a barrier between us.
Arguing Is Not a Resourceful Way to Deal with People
If the argument is with a loved one or another adult, it is often easy to see that that the relationship is not ideal. But it may not be as easy to see that arguing can be the cause of the problems, not the result.
If the argument is with a small child, it’s at least as big a problem. We are the authority figure with our child and if we are arguing, they are not accepting this, and neither are we. It is not possible for a child to be making adult decisions about how life works or to be running the household.
There Can Be Disagreement without Argument
Yes, there can be disagreement without argument. There can be disagreement with understanding. When we are the one in the position of leadership, we can adjust to fit the situation, but we just keep leading the way.
Now, how does this apply to horses?
Arguing doesn’t work with horses, either. The reasons are along the lines of why arguing doesn’t work with a young child. If we are locked in a power struggle with our horse, we really cannot win. They only challenge a leader when they believe there is a chance for them to gain something and become the leader over the challenged one (us!). And if they succeed, nobody wins. It is a very unhappy situation.
We can’t have horses trying to be the leader in our human world. It’s just not possible for them. This is similar to how a child cannot be running a household, it is not possible for them to do. It is the wrong order of things and will cause everybody grief.
Horse Arguments Paradoxes
Horses present us with some paradoxes.
Horses do not enter into a power struggle with their leader. They just don’t. So that means we are allowing them to believe there is a chance that they are the leader, and this would be an impossible and dangerous situation. They cannot and should not lead in our world.
However, it is in a horse’s nature to always be checking their place in the leadership chain of command. This is for their survival, so we can’t be oblivious, or we will fail to notice what’s going on. Also, we can’t blame them for their nature. It’s the way they’re wired.
In a herd of ten horses, while #10 will not challenge #1, they may well challenge #9. When we are with our horse, there are only two of us. That is why their nature may lead to challenges. This is particularly true if they feel unsafe. Notice and take care of safety issues, but keep leading the way.
Further complicating our relationship with our horse are two more things:
Horses establish leadership by moving each other’s feet. We can become knowledgeable and skillful on how to do that. But unless we are aware, we may not notice that our horse is asserting leadership over us by moving our feet. We can miss the small challenges and then be surprised when a bigger challenge shows up.
Also, horse’s are very fast learners and can experience one-time learning. They notice when we are caught by surprise and momentarily confused or uncertain. This can happen when they become frightened or when they assert themselves and we are confronted with their strength and power. Unfortunately, they can immediately learn to put more effort into doing that thing again. Oh, my.
How do we reconcile these contradictory elements?
Horses are very aware of leadership and their safety minute-to-minute and if we are not the leader, they MUST lead.
Also, if we are not the leader, they WILL lead, they just don’t have a clue how to do it in our world. That’s how we end up seeing people with horses behaving badly and dangerously.
Horses Always Need A Leader And The Leader Needs To Be Us
We can be a kind, caring, and understanding leader, as long as we are still the leader.
The good news is horses are much more comfortable once they know where they stand in the leadership chain of command. They feel better when they feel they have a leader. If we are a good leader, they will happily follow.
They are much happier when we are the leader. We are much happier. It is right order of things.
So don’t enter into a power struggle, just don’t do it. Learn to be more aware (because horses are hyper-aware) but refuse to see it as a power struggle and just keep leading. Don’t over-challenge your horse, but remember that persistence equals leadership. Try to be understanding of what it going on, but we need to incrementally teach our horse what they need know. Then an argument never even gets started.
Again, imagine a small boy who is allowed to refuse to go to school. Before long, he will be 17 and strong of body, but without mental, emotional, physical and social understanding and control. By then, he may be a menace to himself and society. Our horse is already stronger than that 17-year-old boy. In fact, horses are bigger, stronger, and faster than the fastest human. Horses need good leadership and their education to learn how to behave in our human world.
We may need more skills and knowledge around leadership to understand our horse’s nature and behavior. Otherwise, we may misinterpret what is going on. In many ways, horses are quite different from us. One example is that their main means of defense is to run away. That’s why it’s important to notice when they begin to feel trapped and threatened. It’s hard to wrap our mind around the fact that horses are afraid for their life every day. Unfortunately, they feel trapped and threatened more easily that we may expect.
Leadership is an awesome responsibility, but the attitude of leadership is a most important key with horses.
Horse Arguments Antidote – Adopt an Attitude of Leadership
Follow my lead because you’re safe with me and I always know what to do. (Of course, then the trick is to deliver on that promise.)
How Do We Get The Best Out Of Each Other?
It’s not by arguing and fighting.
A well-respected horseman said that some human has to teach a horse to argue because it’s not in their nature. Let’s don’t be that human. Instead, we can just learn to lead.
30+ years supporting horse lovers
P.S. For a free 15-minute phone consultation, email Pat@Horse-Solutions.com, Subject: Set Up Free Phone Call.
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