Day 715: The Human Approach

Something that was very clearly illuminated for me as I worked more with horses and natural horsemanship is that people often try to approach situations or things in a very oblivious way. What I mean by this is that we tend to not pause for a moment to consider if the way we are wanting to deal with something will actually be effective within the consideration of the nature of what we're dealing with.

We tend to have a very straight line of thinking to life. We look for the shortest path from point A to point B, but often do not realise that not everything in life thinks or behaves the same way we do.

I will use some sadly common scenarios as examples:
  • An owner of a number of very expensive and well bred horses wants to protect and keep the horses as healthy and injury free as possible, so this owner keeps the horses locked away in their stables 24/7, except for a short period of supervised exercise every day. This living situation is completely contrary to the nature of a horse that has adapted to travelling great distances every day, so quite often the horses will get extremely bored and frustrated and will develop some "bad habits" as a result. They might start swaying from side to side in their stable for hours on end. A common human approach to this particular problem of swaying is to install bars on the stable door that block the horse from swaying. 
  • Horses don't like confined spaces, so getting a horse into a horsebox can be quite an ordeal if the horse is inexperienced (or if the horse has had bad experiences). Sadly the most common response to boxing a scared horse is to beat it into submission until it finally is forced into the box. 
  • Often people try to stop bad habits in animals by associating negative experiences with the habit. Say a horse has a tendency of rearing when being ridden, the rider would then do something like hit the horse in the face with a crop if and when it rears.
As you can see, a very common approach to dealing with horses is "hit it till it does what you tell it to". None of these little scenarios take into consideration the nature of the horse. None of these scenarios looks to address the real cause of the "problems". 

This human tendency is not limited to dealing with horses. It seems to be in every part of our lives - our first and often only approach is to treat everything as if it thinks and behaves the way we do, or try to overpower it until it submits to our will.

Our challenge is to adjust the way we look at things, to consider that in order for us to best work through a situation we need to improve our understanding of it. Our violent responses usually come from the frustration of not knowing how else to deal with the situation. We do not always have the answer to a situation - but that is no excuse to take our frustrations out on those around us. We are responsible for taking the initiative to improve our knowledge and skills so that we can better handle the situation in a fair and considerate way.