Why would Chris Irwin be letting me (his equine half) write this blog? Is it from a sincere desire to share his insights about horsemanship, or does his ego simply want his opinions to be heard? Well, I know him very well and I can tell you that it’s a healthy dose of both.
I’ll admit that thanks to me we’ve been branded as a bit too much horse for some people to handle. When I’ve reared up in the past, Chris has allowed me to get out of hand and then people start saying that he’s gotten up on his high horse again.
And yet, here he is giving me free rein once again!
So, on that note, please take a moment and ask yourself this simple question… what do you ask of your horse?
What was your first response? Respect? Trust? Partnership?
Well, my first response is that horsemanship is definitely not an exercise in partnership. Horsemanship is an exercise in leadership. And a leader is someone who first and foremost manages his or herself in order to better influence and be of service to others.
If I’m going to be honest, and horses don’t lie, I’d have to say that most horses view the majority of human beings as romantic control freaks in denial. Yes, people “love us,” but usually only as long as we do what they tell us to do.
Okay, you’ve had a few moments to think about it. What is it that you ask of your horse?
You ask us to embrace the unknown. You expect us to willingly accept vulnerability.
When you come to catch us we never know for sure what your intentions are except that you expect us to accept whatever it is you want us to do. When we get into a horse trailer we do not know if we are ever coming back home again. You don’t ask your horse if it wants to go to a clinic or show. You don’t ask us if we want to be de-wormed, shod, or have our teeth floated. I know nobody ever asked me if I wanted to have my testicles taken away when they decided it was time for me to become a gelding!
Now, seriously, we horses are not fools, and when we are absolutely convinced that you are indeed looking out for our best interest, and we know you as a source of our well-being, well, then most of the time we’ll give you what you want with reasonably willing co-operation. In other words, if your “aids” are truly aiding us, helping us, making us feel better with you than we do on our own, then okay, it’s realistic for you to expect us to give ourselves to you. It’s like Chris always says, it’s not good enough for a horse to “respect the leg,” a horse should appreciate the leg.
A horse can’t trust someone unless we have learned to respect the person first. And I can’t respect someone unless I’ve challenged and tested his or her responses again and again. My own paranoid, attention deficit, victim waiting to happen psyche needs to see consistently that my leader is truly competent and compassionate and always has my best interest at heart. Remember, your self-preservation instincts would not allow you to want to fly with a pilot who can only land the plane safely seven out of 10 times. So why expect a horse to embrace the vulnerability of the unknown unless you have helped empower it to go there calmly and confidently?
If you Google the term ‘horse sense’ you’ll find definitions such as “everyday common, intuitive logic.” What a joke! Horse sense = Survival of the fittest! Horse Sense is about being able to stay alive and thrive in a dog eat dog world! These kinds of human illusions are just another symptom of what psychologists now refer to as Nature Deficit Disorder.
And speaking of illusions and deficits, you’ve probably heard that politics is often called a horse race. And just over four years ago when Barack Obama was running for the first time in the American Presidential election he was considered the dark horse. The dark horse is the one who is not expected to win. And although he has just managed to win that horse race again for a second term he is still, by definition, the dark horse because any horse knows Obama can’t win in the long run.
How can any leader “win” anything with barely over a 50 per cent majority? When almost half of the electorate loses then the overall herd never wins. A house divided will not stand.
The President is a dark horse wearing hobbles. And try as he undoubtedly will to buck the system the natural fact is that until America has a leader with enough horse sense to unite a polarized country, to appeal to the masses and truly earn enough respect and trust from the people to earn an unquestionably clear majority, America will never be able to find its stride and collect its potential.
When Obama was first elected he said in his inaugural address “the buck stops here.” But while a democratic President can lead a republican congress to water – we all know he can never make them drink.
So, the only way an old war horse like me can see any promise of real progressive change happening in the world is when politicians and leaders of all stripes begin to behave less like hungry wolves and more like great horse trainers genuinely caring for their herd. And you can tell your politicians you heard that straight from the horse’s mouth.