Friday, 17 February 2012

The Dignity Factor

Horses are described in many different ways; athletic, lazy, shy, spooky, green, introvert, extrovert, etc.  The same horse can have many of these descriptors used by different people and even by the same people on different days or in different situations.  There is a quality that I see but don`t hear used often and that is dignity.

For some horses their dignity is extremely important.  These horses are often called, lazy, stubborn, uncooperative, left brained, introverted etc.  When you ask them to do something they often get a look on their face “you want me to do what!”, or, “I don`t want to and you can`t make me.”   If you try to force the issue you will get resistance, defiance and at the extreme aggression.

Our first horse, Bobby, whose picture is on this blog is a horse who cherishes his dignity.  When he understands what you want and when you ask with respect, allowing him to maintain that dignity he will do just about anything.  If he is pushed or forced in any way, he demonstrates his displeasure.  This is mostly through resisting or not responding.  On one occasion however, when we were using a method recommended by a very good clinician, he charged.  No one was seriously hurt, just bruises and a scare.  We learned some big lessons. 

Horses with this dignity factor require more patience and more attention to the horses body language.  They respond best to the most gentle and subtle cues.  They need time to respond.  If  you want a horse with snappy responses in a short period of time these are not your best bet.  Unfortunately for them they are often labelled bad horses and they are shifted from owner to owner and have a short and miserable life. 

Horses by their nature have a lot of dignity.  Some horses have the dignity factor and you need to consider this when working with them.  In my opinion it is not something that you can just push through.  You need to recognize and work with it.  Ultimately they make wonderful partners.

1 comment:

Michelle Dorsey said...

I love this. One of my horses is a left brained - high dignity type of horse. She has taught me to really appreciate her the way she is. My horse are perfect, right now, just the way they are. Sometimes we, as horseman, can get into the mindset about horses that we are going to make them into something else (we do this with kids too) or we get an 'our way or no way' attitude. This is why I love the study of natural horsemanship! It really allows for dignity and respect - both ways!