Just to summarise again, this category is called ‘What Does It Mean To Be A Clicker Trainer?” and so far there have been three parts titled, First Impressions, The Cultural Fog, and now, What Is Blocking Us?
To understand what it means, you have to understand human nature – and the history of the relationship between horse and human.
We all want to belong – we don’t want to be in the minority. We are also strongly influenced by what we have learnt. From the day we were born, we learnt that horses were there for our benefit. Some of us were the little girls who never grew out of the horse craze. We loved horses from a young age – but we learnt early on that we had to control them. If not – they would have it all over us. We would look weak – and we wouldn’t be able to control our horse.
If we have always seen something done a certain way – it’s hard to look for a new way to do it.
Even if we didn’t like how we had to control them, that was the way it was done. In our young minds we assumed that the adults, the experts, knew best and this was the tool box we had to work with.
When I first started riding a little grey pony called Sister, she regularly shied during the ride. I would often fall off. I learnt to hit her harder, kick her harder, hold the reins tighter, keep her moving – in other words – show her who was boss. And it worked quite often. So if it works, why stop doing it?
Indeed, I was a timid rider – timid I think because all my early experiences consisted of regularly falling off! I always got back on. In those days it was all about getting on again – it toughened you up so they said. Yet each week I would feel a mixture of excitement and fear at the thought of going riding again. It was only because I loved it so much that I kept going.
Fear made me kick harder – or use the whip. Is that the same for everyone? I don’t know ….. but maybe it starts as fear. Fear is usually the reason for aggression. And then once the fear subsides the aggression remains – as a habit.
Or maybe for some, it’s more about ego. Riding a horse makes us feel powerful. We can control something. We will be admired by others. We cannot fail as we will look stupid and weak.
All of this is very ingrained. To explore a new way is risky. For one, we may be made fun of, and also – we may fail. Then what do we have left? We would be working hard to reassemble any sense of self respect.
I have talked in general terms about the blocks that keep us locked into the cultural fog. But why – or how – do some people break away from that fog? What happens to them – do they find paradise – or do they fall off a cliff?
Let’s examine that next time!
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