Sunday, 10 August 2014
Respect - fear or love?
It is funny to think that there are so many of us that feel we have to demand respect. Most parents of teenagers will have become frustrated when they felt their child was 'disrespectful'. And needed 'discipline' to ensure it was taught to respect. But respect is a feeling. It cannot be forced. Fear can be forced. Do I want my teenager or an animal in relationship with me to 'fear' me - NO!
When an animal is learning, it is choosing. If it enters into flight, freeze of fight mode, it is reacting. At this point there is no choice. It may learn something, but the learning is a stress response and will continue to be a stress response in the presence of that 'punisher' which created the stress. So, if we wish to get our horses to respect us by submitting, then there is a strong chance we are punishing them into freeze. A difficult horse may be one who does not freeze - and become - bombproof, but one that reacts by fighting. A different response to the same stress.
I am so grateful that I have learned this information. Grateful too that there is a nicer way to work with all animals. When we force our hand - and sometimes we may do this unwittingly, we are dominating the animals. And this is not the relationship I choose to have with the animals that I know.