Originally Posted by Reiningcatsanddogs View Post
...As to how do they tell you that maybe they are not up to the challenge? That is part of feel...You can feel it through the reins, you can feel it in the way they move, where their head is, the look in their eye, where their ears are… the whole package.
The problem I have with this is that many questions are not yes/no. If I ask for a trot with a kissing sound, and the horse declines my request...does that always mean no trotting? But if it is a good time to trot for a variety of reasons the horse may not appreciate, then do I repeat the kissing sound? Or do I kiss and squeeze?
When Mia was in the mood to slow down - like in an arena, where she quickly decided there was little to get excited about if running merely meant literally running in circles - then you could slow her with a whispered "Easy". On a trail stretching to the horizon? Forget it.
If there is a give and take between horse and rider, then I don't think highly consistent agreement in response to very soft (think of "whisper" instead of physically soft) cues is plausible. I don't see the mechanism, unless it is repeatedly offering the whispered cue - a whisper the horse has already said "No thank you" to. At some point, I think the rider needs to be able to say, "I don't think you understand - this is important to me even if you aren't in the mood!"
For example, per the other day, I needed to get home and relieve my wife of grandson-sitting duties so she could get to work on time. Bandit didn't know about that and probably wouldn't care. So told it was time to take a shortcut, he said, "See no value in it, not interested."
Nice, but the clock was ticking and we NEEDED to get back - for purely human reasons
. Didn't matter if he felt like it, wanted to, was happy or reluctant - I needed to get back, and I didn't have time or interest in hearing the answer no. So it was time to up the ante.
This is the horse who is “with” you, as you are with him as Tom Dorrance would say.
And in some settings, that is wonderful. If we are about to tackle a challenging bit of terrain, I really WANT my horse and I to be of one mind. But I also have something of the rancher in me...because sometimes my horse DOES need to just shut up and do the job.
In my concept of give and take, it is time to act like Bandit acts when he REALLY wants to be the first horse to eat the pellets. When that happens, #3 of 3 in the pecking order Bandit sends the other two horses running for cover. Most of the time, if told to move away from food, Bandit yields. But there is nothing soft about it when Bandit decides it is important
I find 'softness' in the arena easy, because my horse rarely gives a rat's rear end about what we do next - in the arena. When my horse doesn't care, I don't need to shout. The shouting comes when my horse disagrees with me - as a partner is allowed to do, although a subordinate may not.
Then we have a debate, or heated discussion, while we settle on who wants what the most
. If my horse cannot respond with, "Just who in the [expletive deleted] died and left YOU King of the World?"...then is he a partner? Or a subordinate? A marriage, or the military?
If my wife always said yes when I whispered a request, I'd wonder what space alien had taken over my wife's body! I wouldn't want her, or my horse, to be any other way. From our ride this morning:
Bandit already was getting unhappy about standing still, waiting for my daughter to take a posed picture. He doesn't believe in standing still, patiently, while we are out. Another picture, taken just a moment later, shows Bandit moving ahead, and the slack is gone as I try to keep him from surging towards Trooper.
Notice the difference in my leg, too. Not much softness going on! I didn't blame Bandit. I wasn't thrilled to pose there either. But my WIFE wanted it, and it was time for me to shut up and color. And for my horse too.
About a half-second after the second picture, I said "Aww Hellll..." and Bandit and I - at oneness, utterly "with" each other as I suppose the Dorrance brothers might say - turned around again and started covering ground. As one! Bandit may have heard what I muttered under my breath. And agreed. But it was best my wife didn't hear!
And my wife, who had gotten most of what she wanted there, didn't get upset. Bandit & I both gave her a good faith effort. But not softly. Neither of us.
It was one of those times where Bandit and I were truly a lot alike...