Holy smoke - you guys have been up all night, it seems! FWIW, a stallion does not really herd his mares unless there's another stallion around, and then, yes, the mares do comply,
I have seen a video where a stallion prevented a mare from staying with her foal which got trapped behind a fence. (The original video is down. I know that the commentator is contentious.) Comment: Are you referring to training as opposed to learning or consider both one and the same. Learning is one of my greatest joys and if handled properly it is also for kids.
I can go as far as to say, both. We all have things we like to learn and others we don't, but are made to learn, or else. You may have learned how to fill out an income tax form, or else you'll need money to have someone do it for you, or else you'll go to jail. You hire instructors to guide your day-to-day learning process, because not all aspects of learning something thoroughly are "fun", so the instructor serves to issue the appropriate series of "asks" to guide your progress. If you join a military academy or make that your career, the "asks" are most definitely followed by "tells" and "demands". In fact, any job, any contract even, has a coercive element. But you enter into the contract freely because you get something out of it as well.
Horses don't understand a "contract", but they understand "trust" (She made me do things, and each time it ended well!), and they understand "patterns", and that's probably the foundation on which you make them do things that they see no point in doing, like carrying a hairless monkey on their back. Comment: Again, I am resistful that the ask need be a form of pressure. Xenophon speaks only of a horse responding to a signal to which I would think he means a vocabulary of cues. When the signal he speaks of becomes pressure to the horse, it would seem the horse is acting out of compulsion and the threat of increased pressure.
Those cues, are they not a form of pressure? A cluck is pressure. Your approaching the horse on pasture is pressure. Your looking at it intently (predator-like, not with soft eyes) is a form of pressure.
I would state that in the learning phase, there is compulsion, but that it later turns into a habitual action. It's like a parent yelling at you when you try to cross the street without looking, or a driving instructor yelling at you for not doing a shoulder check before lane merging. Do you still fear your parents' wrath every time you cross the road and check for traffic?
In fact, you may have internalized behavior that you were coerced into (like to clean up your room, or else) to an extend that you couldn't not
do it by now. Much of your personal hygiene regime is probably a taught response to some pressure from your parents, unless you loved to explore brushing your teeth by yourself.
I would assert that we, too, create a habitual response in the horse to our cues which does not create a fear of punishment whenever it is asked to do it. Comment: I may be wrong, but reading between the lines I don't see you as much of a coercer. I'm wondering if you are sometimes doing tinyliny's "invite" when you think you are coercing.
I take that as a compliment, because I do, indeed, hate to put on significant pressure, but, if I lead her and she starts running her shoulder into me, and tapping her doesn't get her to back off, she will get a sharp whack with my elbow whenever she gets too close. If she plants her feet somewhere on the trail and refuses to go forward, I need to dislodge her. She needs to learn that when I ask her forward, I will never do so while putting her into a dangerous situation, and that sometimes means making her do something that she, at that moment, finds scary - like venturing into tall grass, past a parked tractor, or through the acid puddle of death. I'll keep going, even though the below are not responses to me anymore. Comment: That's the point of my thread. That understanding can mean that from the horse's point of view, the very lightest of cues can be viewed as a veiled or not so veiled threat. And a threat can cause apprehension and fear and block clear thinking.
I would tend to agree that fear
will do that, but creating discomfort to the horse doesn't imply creating fear. It simply puts a stimulus out there it likes less than complying. For example, when you teach the horse to pick up his feet, you create discomfort, the response to which is his lifting up his foot. You work up to that by first applying the cue you would like to you use, like gently rubbing his lower leg. But do you really think that whenever you rub the horse's leg he starts thinking, "Oh no, if I don't pick up my foot now
, she'll pinch my chestnuts!" And do you think the horse gets traumatized by initially getting his chestnuts pinched to make
him pick up his foot?
I don't think the horse has the capacity for these kind of "What if?" scenarios in his mind, and ultimately offers a habitual response vs. a fear-based one. Is there a Golden Rule about how to treat a horse? As in, Treat a horse as you would wish for the horse to treat you.
If I can continue to tack up my horse in her stall, without cross ties, while her head is down, she blinks, and she cocks her foot, I know that this cue for "I'm about to ride you!" does not cause apprehension, and that I'm doing good by her overall. In addition, I'd like to think that, when I lollygag with her when I say Hi!, and she starts pawing the ground gently, she tells me to get on with it already.
My Golden Rule is that my presence with a horse with which I work regularly should visibly result in calmness and comfort in the horse.