How many of us find ourselves looking for a box to fit in? Many times it's so much easier to know what box we DON'T fit in. You can be "both" ... all. A student of all philosophies and disciplines. Integrating information from the vast wealth of information presented by horse men and women from all walks of life; talented, passionate and knowledgeable about what they do.
This is what I've found myself contemplating over the years. I, like many, have watched the human nature of "taking things to the extreme" happen, no matter the subject. This phenomenon is including, and maybe most especially, in the animal world.
We live in the day and age of extremes. The people who seem to get attention or recognition are those at at the far ends of a belief, perspective, ideology, or method. In their search for what is "right", everybody runs to one side of the ship, and then back to the other, tipping the balance at both ends ... but I'm not sure they learn much along the way.
I've sat back and watched this phenomenon for plenty of years now. I've been a part of it here and there. And I've sort of been waiting for some one to stand up and make a stand for the middle ground; for seeking center and staying balanced in your outlook or approach, whatever the subject. Sadly, I have yet to find that figurehead in the horse world. Whether it's breeding, showing, or training, folks have a way of taking a style too far or preaching that one style is superior while all others are portrayed as inferior, even vile.
I grew up in a more traditional or "conventional" way of working with and training horses. However, I was lucky that the farm and training operation I worked for did not put a time limit on the horse's progress. We listened (or tried to anyway) to what that horse was telling us along his training path. And that is where I've see "conventional" training fail the horse: by cramming, making, forcing styles, or forcing maneuvers onto and into them at the human's pace instead of the horse's. Sometimes it fails because the training doesn't take the horse's nature and limits into account along the way.
Swing the pendulum the other way:
Because of those conventional extremes that bothered me, I made my way over and spent the better part of 14 years working in the "natural horsemanship" world thinking "ah-ha this is the answer". But you know, it's there that I've watched another extreme make its way to the surface, and it's something like the Chinese water torture technique. A glorification of a passive to extremely passive way of doing and being with the horse, which is just as damaging as it's counter part. It is just a different method that also ends up forcing things, just in a different way. The point I am looking to make in this blog, is that the best place for the animal, any animal, is for the human to try to stay right down the middle with their approach. The famous saying "be as gentle as you can, but as firm as necessary" needs to be taped on the brim of some folk's hat, and for other folks, well, it seems they need to be bonked over the head with it daily if not on a regular basis. Some need to be more direct and assertive, others need to be more gentle and passive, but neither end of the spectrum is the "right" place to be 100% of the time.
The march I am on is one for Balance, which is why I've named my training program "Balanced Horse Training"...I figured that way, nobody could run to any extreme with it, the name itself would real them back in. Go to the extremes when necessary ... but then get yourself back to the middle, where the scale reads 0...that is where the best leaders and trainers I've been around reside ... that is where the horse can find peace and where all can find success ...