Horsey Therapist

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Uncertainty, roles, submission

Thinking, thinking...

I started wondering if my purposefully leaving so much to Rusty regarding decisions of where to go and how much life to use to take us there, is worrying him. Is this extra life I'm getting from him due to his uncertainty rather than his opening up from a shut down state?

Or is he displaying some of that worry that has been inside anyway, during this transition while he develops some confidence, which is happening partly due to my having confidence in him and letting him have more say in things?

Or something else entirely or additionally?

Look what happens when the temps get so cold I'm not out there riding!

I also started wondering about a horse's naturally submissive role within a herd, and are these different for mares than for geldings. Of course, there are seldom (never?) geldings in the wild, but even with mares and stallions -- are the different genders genetically designed to submit more or less to other horses?

I understand and see signs of a hierarchy, fluid at times but always present, but is that the same thing as one horse submitting to another? Does "submission" between a horse and human become a problem because most of us humans are inept at defining our roles, hence it's not simple and clear like it is within a herd of horses?

I watch my little herd and see the mares running the show, submitting to no gelding/stallion unless they choose to for breeding purposes. And the geldings/stallions? It seems they are constantly submitting to the mares or if not them, to another gelding/stallion, unless they are fighting for breeding opportunities. But wait a moment, that description fits Kacee, but most of the time not Sofia. Sofia appears to submit to Bo most of the time, even though she is cranky about it.

Why does crankiness accompany submission? Because of how the submissiveness is created? Because of whether or not the one agrees with the enforced submissive role?

I was recalling Harry Whitney saying something about how it suits a horse to know where, when, and how to be, and indicating that uncertainty creates distress. Remembering that is what brought on this round of wonderings today. Plus a recent comment by a friend about the word "submission". I have preferred to use the word "yielding", but then questioned whether submission is a normal and functional part of nature. I have a hunch it is and that I better get over my personal degree of cringing when the word "submission" is used. Just because I have psychological and spiritual baggage associated with that word doesn't mean it is not the most appropriate word and concept to describe something valuable.

More cold weather is forecast, so I guess I'll have lots of time to think this over.


At 26 January, 2007 07:11, Blogger ZinniaZ said...

Have you read any books by Mark Rashid? Ine one of them he talks about horse leasdership roles. He says there are two kinds of herd leaders, the alpha horse who beats the snot out of all the horses and maintains order that way and the leader who watches over the herd benevolently. That leader keeps order but the other horses feel good following him. Rally, btw, is that type of leader. He makes the other horses feel safe and they like him.

At 26 January, 2007 07:12, Blogger ZinniaZ said...

Found the book: Horses Never Lie, by Mark Rashid. It's pretty interesting.

At 26 January, 2007 14:10, Blogger LJB said...

I've read some of Mark's books. I think it's he who has coined the term: passive leadership, referring to the horse whom others follow willingly.

Bo is not one of those. His assertions are anxiety-driven. I think it's a very confident horse (or person) who inspires others to follow their lead. The concept has further cemented my intent to inspire my horses rather than force them, even if ever so gently, to do what I want, when I want.

But I live with some contradictions because when I really let Kacee decide if and when I might ever halter her or ride her again, it was two years before I gave up my rigidity about that, and found some ways to gently encourage her to come do stuff with me. Is her hesitancy due to my uncertainty about my role in her life? Or due to her viewpoint and opportunity to express herself? I may never know!


Post a Comment

<< Home