The modern world is a problem
For equestrians, the way society thinks nowadays is a significant issue. I do not mean this in the sense of labelling equitation as a ‘sitting down sport’ or misunderstanding exactly what it means to ride a horse well. What I mean, is the breakdown in modern thought has led to an increased number of equestrians who simply do not have the right attitude towards horses.
Think about it. In Victorian times, etiquette was everything. From the clothes you wore to the way you spoke to the manner in which you walked down the street, etiquette was at the forefront of everyone’s minds. It was not seemly for a lady to behave in certain ways just as it was ungentlemanly for a gentleman to behave in other ways. Anyone who did go against the rules of etiquette and good manners was considered uncouth and below the standards of others.
Okay, so the class system that was in place then caused problems of its own. But if you look carefully, you can still see the British class system there, even if its only in small things. Such as, a man in a suit crossing the road to avoid a homeless person. Or the lady in Gucci not bothering to thank the bus driver. Or a boarding school student not holding the door for a cleaner. All of these seemingly insignificant actions are actually indicative of society trying to grasp at the straws of the class system.
So why are we trying so hard to hold onto that, and ignoring the bits about manners and good conduct? Because the way I see it, the latter is far more important. It frustrates me to the extreme when I witness someone being outright rude. I feel my blood starting to boil, because quite frankly there is absolutely no need to behave in such a way.
You will achieve far more with a smile and pleasant words than with swearing and a bad attitude. What part of that is so hard to understand for people? Wandering around thinking you’re the best thing since sliced bread and waving your ego in everyone’s faces is just unpleasant. It won’t earn you any friends and it sure as hell won’t get you a job. Nor will it help you earn respect.
Which is where horses come in.
Relationships with anything are based on one thing: respect. It does not matter whether this relationship is between you and your mother, or you and your horse. On the deepest level, it is respect that maintains that relationship.
A horse is a finely tuned, sensitive prey animal. It’s instincts are to run from danger as fast as it can without looking back. So how is it possible for humans to command this animal? I don’t mean with stable walls and ropes and bits of metal in their mouths. I mean with our voices, body language and other communicative measures. We are small, weak and pretty much irrelevant to them and yet, we are able to handle them with ease.
Society is the problem. I have seen it time and time again and I wonder sometimes whether anyone will realise what is being done to them. They way society teaches us to think more of ourselves than we are. The way our parents bring us up telling us we are wonderful, amazing, beautiful, so clever. The way our friends will lie to us time after time, “oh you’re so much smarter than me”, “of course that skirt doesn’t make you look fat”, “You look so hot, of course he’ll fancy you”. All of these things, and more, contribute to our over-inflated egos. Yeah,but what’s the problem, you ask.
The problem, my friend, is that this kind of attitude is never going to inspire a horse to respect you. That way of thinking will make the horse run in the opposite direction. While working with horses requires a certain amount of confidence, it is a quiet confidence that is necessary, not cocky in-your-face rudeness.
There must also be a certain amount of humility involved. One must be humble in order to develop a truly strong connection with a horse. I say this, because it is something that few people realise; when you respect another being (be it person or animal) there is a part of you that feels humbled. And so, to build up a trusting and respectful relationship with a horse, you must be humble, quietly confident and honest.
Remind me again why we threw away etiquette? Aren’t those things exactly what it teaches? How to respect, how to be humble, how to have self-confidence in the appropriate levels and how to show honesty in all things?
Society, you really tickle me.