Page 7 - ...Ancient Secrets of the Horses Mind
P. 7
Introduction
Horses are more effectively trained with persuasive methods rather than with coercive methods. This concept motivated me to write this book. Persuasive methods, that elicit behavior that the horse wants to do, are safer, faster and longer lasting than are coercive methods that elicit behavior that the horse must do.
Why then have coercive methods been the principle training techniques used by all human cultures?
It is because such methods are natural to us. We are a predatory, aggressive species and this is generally more true if we are young and male. The horse, by contrast, is a prey species. It is timid and easily frightened. Its response to fear is flight. Harnessed, controlled flight can be obtained by using physical force, pain and coercion. Jumping, racing, driving and even dressage movements are simply controlled flight responses that have become conditioned responses. Horses run for joy and pleasure, not just from fear.
The horse, being a flight creature, as is abundantly and repeatedly emphasized in this book, experiences anxiety in response to certain emotions when they are displayed by a human handler. These emotions are anger and impatience.
Anger and impatience are incompatible with good horsemanship. Both intimidate the horse and stimulate the instinct to run away, or, if the horse thinks that it cannot flee, then these emotions may precipitate an alternative defense, such as kicking, striking, or biting.
It is only human to experience such emotions. The test of our character, however, is whether or not we are capable of suppressing these feelings, rise above them and allow civility and reason to cope with the situation. Therefore, in dealing with horses, if we allow reason to dictate our behavior, we will greatly enhance our ability to communicate with them and to understand their behavior.
Although coercion and force have been the primary means by which mankind has trained horses to serve his needs throughout history, far better means exist. These means are more humane, more civilized, more intelligent, more effective and actually easier to implement (once we learn
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