Fear Does Not Equal Respect
I wrote a recent post where I described the difference between punishment (negative) and correction (positive) when working with. I must say I was disheartened to read (my post was re-blogged by someone else on another forum) how many horse owners feel that punishing attacking a horse has its place in horse training. Respectfully, I absolutely disagree.
Why doesn’t punishment (as described in the previous post) work? Let’s explore that with an example of using punishment on a horse for an unwanted action I read about: the owner described how he/she punished their horse by whacking him several times as hard as they could with a stick because he reared when passing other horses. The rearing stopped. Why? Fear. Not respect. Not trust. But fear. If you think for one moment that this is what respect looks like, you’d be lying to yourself.
But the rearing stopped you say?! Indeed it did. But it will come back. Why? Because the horse was not encouraged to find the right answer on his own. The horse didn’t stop rearing because his handler helped build his trust and confidence by teaching him tactfully that he could pass other horses in a calm fashion and still be safe. There were no clear, firm corrections or rewards for even the slightest effort. Instead there was nagging, dulling pressure and his one big lesson from this experience is that his human handler can’t be trusted not to expose him to danger.
Let’s fast forward a little and pose a hypothetical situation that will test this horse’s training. The horse and his handler are walking by a small herd of horses. Among them is a 16hh stallion. The stallion moves fast, head high as it comes closer and closer. The gelding is nervous...trapped, frightened. Where to now? Will it be the stallion willing and able to kick or the handler willing and able to beat him? Who can he trust in such a tight spot? His handler didn’t show him how to adopt a wait and see and trust in your leader approach to this kind of situation. He’s outta there.
The stallion could have been a snake on a trail or advertising sign in an arena. The result will still be the same. Solid horse training takes time. Fear = Respect? Not at all.
Great post. Solid horse training takes time. Absolutely, one of the biggest things I notice is the need for instant gratification, and people do not want to put in the time, sweat and work involved in training a horse. They want to skip steps and end up leaving holes in their training. And then blame it on the "stupid horse". Horse training is not always pretty, and is certainly not achievable in 30 days. An effective trainer will accept one good step and release the pressure, so the horse knows he did the right thing, then ask for another good step. You cannot beat a horse into respect. The horse learns to respect you by the way you handle and teach it to. Horses are looking for leadership and it is our job as an effective leader to lead them to the right answer, by not releasing the pressure until they find the right answer on their own. People make fun of me for all the ground work I put into my horses, and time I spend desensitizing my horses. But when we go on a ride and my horse is calm, quiet and fun ride while there horse is jigging, snatching grass, and spooking I just sit back and smile.
Maybe I missed it, but did you explain how you would have corrected a horse is this situation?
Also, I see you into natural horsemenship, how does this translate into herd behavior?
In my eyes I see horses correcting a behavior, usually before it happens, with a head toss, nose wrinkle or tail swish. If the "lower" horse breaks the boundaries of a higher ranking one I've seen them chase, bite and kick the others.
I see it as no different then when a horse tries to bite me. I say "knock it of", give the lead a snap, or make sure he runs into my hand. That's telling think that behavior is unacceptable. If or when he make contact with my skin you better believe he gonna get one hard punch in the face, some shaper jerks on the lead and his gonna back his butt up like his tails on fire. Then I go back to nothing ever happening, just like the alpha who chased, bit and kicked the other horse for coming to close to his food.
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Fear does not equal respect, but sometimes it is a good starting point. A horse cannot learn to respect your judgment until he first FOLLOWS your direction. And a horse has no reason to follow your direction unless there are consequences for not following your direction. It doesn't require "FEAR", but it requires something unpleasant enough that the horse "CHOOSES" to obey.
Once the horse obeys, he can learn that obeying works, and thus learn you have good judgment and should be trusted.
There are also differences between emergencies and non-emergencies. A horse who doesn't stop well in an arena is not an emergency. A horse who doesn't stop when galloping toward a busy road is an emergency. The first needs more training, but the second needs his head ripped off, if required, to stop.
A horse who pushes into your space needs training. A horse biting you is an emergency, and needs the Hammer of Thor to fall on his head.
It is completely reasonable to break down behaviors into smaller steps, and teach the horse thru 10 small steps rather than insisting on one big leap. Before I could ride my horse into the desert, I needed to walk her in the desert on a lead line. And before I could walk her into the desert on a lead line, I needed to walk her away from other horses. So we started walking 100 yards - as far as she would get without a nervous breakdown - and worked it up to miles. First rides were with other horses on non-windy days. It would have been a waste of time and cruel to just jump on her back and try to beat her enough to make her go out into the desert.
But at the same time, I couldn't train her unless I pushed her outside her comfort zone: the corral. Without pressure, and without any consequences for disobeying, she would still be living in a corral and still be too afraid to go anywhere.
Providing negative consequences IS "natural". That is how horses treat other horses. Those negative consequences create a certain amount of 'fear'. That creates obedience, and obedience can eventually be followed with trust in the rider.
Like your post but I agree and disagree with some of the thinking behind it
Respect shouldn't be built on fear and neither should a horses training be based on fear because fear destroys trust and trust is the most important thing in a relationship with a horse
Part of that is seen in the whole 'desensitizing' thing. You could spend forever sacking your horse out to every single thing it might encounter on your travels to the extent that you'd never take it out of the barn. There's nothing wrong with getting horses used to things but so much easier if your horse trusts you and so believes you when you tell it that scary flapping bag heading your way isn't a monster and even if it is you as the leader will protect it
Where I disagree is that there are times when a good sharp smack is needed to put some horses into their place, give them a wake up call so to speak. You cant treat them like children and give them a lecture on why its not nice to kick or bite 'Mummy/Daddy' or sit them on the naughty step
Horses if treated fairly don't see that sort of punishment as abuse because its the way another horse would treat them.
I had to give Honey a smack this morning because she totally forgot that it was wrong to charge out of the stable while I was still fastening the door back. She stepped back in, waited for me and then quietly walked by mu side down to her paddock - no fear at all.
Its all in the way you do it
Pretty sure we're all on the same page with that. Not rocket science, nor is it relegated to only NH training. Common sense, traditional training uses the same methodology.
I wasn't aware anyone stated anything like that, so you're extrapolating.
Discipline is not abuse and if you're going to use the old, 'watch the horses and see how they react to each other' line to prove a point, you'd better know exactly how horses treat each other. They're not sweet and gentle. They give extremely clear, unfriendly signals, and when necessary will escalate into punishment if the offender just isn't getting it.
Ah, yes. The "Fear is negitive" approach. I disagree. Is constant fear for your life bad? of course. Worred about being beaten, or abuse? no doubt. But some kinds of fear are the basis of possitve behavior. For example: Fear to displease.
The leader of my horses herd is an OTTB mare. she is a firm, but fair leader. No one encroaches on her space, steals her food, or misbehaves around her. They are not afraid she will randomly attack or kill them, in fact, the herd is a happy place. What they are afraid of is breaking the rules and upsetting her. They know their will be disapline involved, and they naturally want to maintain peace in a herd. An ideal horse-human relationship is similar. Happy to be around you, work with you and follow your direction, but have a healthy fear of displeasing you. In fact a dictionary definition of fear is "reverential awe".
aditionally, some situations warrant fear(terror, anxiety, etc). For example, as mentioned by an above poster, emergency or life threatening situations. If a mares foal is in danger, she will do her darndest to make the offending creature fear for its life, and never forget it. Similarly, if a horse threatens my safety, I will take whatever actions nessesary to make that animal understand that the dangerous action is NEVER to be repeated.
I'm all for fair, patient, understanding training, but in the horse world, fear can occasionally be nessesary.
Respect is learned and earned. But it starts with something we call fear.
In the beginning --- as infants --- fear can be induced in small amounts, like the threat of being left behind.
As we, and our horses age, it takes more "input" to change our way of thinking. A daredevil might be hurt; it's not "punishment" by our definitions. But when a horse acts dangerously, and is hurt, we DO call it punishment, because we caused it.
I think many of us have known horses brought up so easily they've never had more than a verbal reprimand. But many of the horses mentioned on the forum "need smacking" etc. Well, I have to disagree with a lot of this, because one really needs to know WHY the horse is acting thusly.
But if it is a case of "no respect" then, I believe, the only approach is first, to get the horse a little afraid of you. Not terrified, not mindlessly in panic, but a little fear can also be called a "healthy respect." I see NH trainers "get it" all the time by fatiguing the horse to where it can hardly move. That's one way, I guess. If I ever need that kind of work done, I will get a trainer; because I'm not of the type to do this. But I think, truthfully, it's the place to start.
To my way of thinking respect is a form of fear.
I never went out and mugged an old lady because the fear of the wrath of my parents. I was not terrified of them and sure as heck had respect for them but, the knowledge that they would get mad was enough to keep me on the straight and narrow.
I do not believe in beating a horse up but, I sure as heck will make them think that they are going to die if they do misbehave.
Many times I have been asked to clip a horse that has to be doped to get anywhere near it with clippers. I do not have the time nor the inclination to mess around desensitising it to the noise or vibration. I go in with the determination that I will get it clipped come what may. When the horse reacts adversely I will go into attack mode and have that horse moving backwards around the stable until it shows signs of submission. I will then stop and continue with clipping as if nothing has happened. The horse has two choices, be clipped or suffer my wrath. ( This is not anything done in temper)
I was in charge of clipping all. The jump racehorses in a yard I was working in. At any time there were never less than 80 horses there, each horse was clipped at least three times and of them all there was only one that I had to twitch to do one ear. This was full hunter clips. Prior, there were at least a dozen of these horses that had to be doped. One had hospitalised three lads at different times whilst being clipped. I could clip him whilst he was totally loose, just a rope over his neck.
I have had a lot of experience with all types of horses and, there have been times when a horse has behaved very badly that I have resorted to using a whip whilst riding. Used correctly it works, and not by fear.
A horse that is afraid needs a command not cooing over. That way it is told how to behave and if the handler takes command it will relax.
If you are playing around with a couple of horses then taking all the times in the world is possible but when you are dealing with many then time is vital to find a solution.
I am not a great believer in negative and positive. If I go into a field to feed several horses and one comes at me in attack mode I am not going to ignore it, I am going to give it the feed wrapped straight around its head in the bucket. Another horse, higher in the pecking order would do far worse to warn it off.
They naturally learn by pain. A foal that ignores its mother when she is eating a feed and it wants to suckle will ,be warned with body language. If that is ignored it will get punched with her teeth.
All I can say is that I doubt you have had much experience with the odd horse that has every intention of doing you real harm.
Fox hunter - I used to clip at the track and at many barns......nothing I clipped was sedated, I did twitch one that had previously put my friend in hospital with a broken scapula, punctured lung, broken wrist and ribs.....last time it was clipped it exploded and jumped right on top of her - needless to say I was prepared. I have a nice set of clippers and clip my own horse now, I got tired with dealing with cuddly owners who fed their horses cookies while I was underneath the horse:shock: I only clip for people and barns I know now......safety first.
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