Things to ponder...

When Too Much Freedom Becomes Detrimental

 Monday, June 29, 2015

I used to work as an editor for a regional newspaper. When dealing with freelancers I always tried to grant them as much freedom as possible. I didn't want to order them around or be too narrow with my asks. Just because if I'd been a freelancer I would have wished for being treated like that. I would have wanted the editor to trust me that I will deliver on time - without him having to tread on my toes and micromanaging me. 

My intention was a good one - but it didn't always work out in everyday work life. I made the mistake to project my needs onto others. Of course, some people need freedom and responsibility. But others need clear orders and boundaries - and with my rather lax attitude I didn't live up to the needs of these freelancers.

I think, with horses, it's similar.
There are some horses that demand more room for themselves. And there are others that yield willingly to the human and make way for him to decide for the two of them. 
If I am that type of human who has clear expectations and demands and I meet a horse from the first category, we might end up fighting. Because I am not quite flexible enough to adjust to the horse's needs and to grant him more say then I would like to. I think a horse of the second category will have an easier time to accept strong leadership. 
I, with my "I'll grant you freedom"-attitude on the other hand will probably confuse a horse of the second category because I don't communicate clearly enough. My behavior creates misunderstandings.

Like a few weeks ago, when I was working with the project horse from the ground. I wanted to send him out on a circle to the right. Instead he came in with his ears pricked, posing a question. I like questions as they prove that the horse is mentally engaged and communicating. This is why I consider it rather rude to answer with a "no, get the hell out of here on that circle!". But if I wait too long giving the horse a pause in the middle with me I create confusion rather then do good to our relationship. Because my initial aid "please go out on the circle to the right" turns into "yes please come in" for the horse. 
If I ask for the circle the next time, the horse will likely offer to come in again instead of traveling on the circle around me. If I then send him out with energy, the misunderstanding is complete. Once I said "go" and was okay with "whoa". The next time I said "go" and insisted on "go". 

This is a mistake I make quote often. I want to support the horse's mental engagement and I dont' want to be overly critical. But over this I become wishy washy with my signals. A response like "no, this was not the answer, try again" in the end is more helpful to the horse than having to correct him in the end because I accepted something I actually didn't want in the first place. 

Just to give you another example of this: A few weeks ago I was riding a friend's horse. The mare had experienced some bad handling and wasn't too keen on backing up. Too much pressure on the bit she usually comments with rooting the head. I wanted her to move out from a standstill. But she shifted her weight back and offered to back up. Instead of keeping up my aids until she found the forwards, I released. Because I was happy how willingly she offered the backup. Asking her to move out again, she naturally offered the backup again - and already I had created a misunderstanding. 

Do you also have mistakes that you make over and over again?