OK, so you’ve seen the words “breaking” a colt or “gentling” a horse but, in viewing the methods, which term is more apropos? In my opinion the ‘breaking’ of a horse, as used in traditional form, is truly ‘breaking’ the spirit of the horse – forcing the horse to become ‘submissive’ through heavy force, intimidation, fear and punishment.
Now the connotation of the word “Gentling” sounds very soothing. Very reassuring and causes one to feel all warm and fuzzy. But, one has to view the process of this ‘gentling’ to see if it really IS gentle. I guess that would be subjective, would it not? In other words, dependent upon just WHO is doing the ‘gentling’. Can ‘gentling’ through force, intimidation and restraint be considered gentle? Can the strong pressure of a lead shank or rope halter be considered gentle? Rope halters don’t break — they burn through flesh. A strong shanking on a rope halter can do MORE damage and inflict MORE pain than a chain and certainly more physical damage than a wide, web halter.
Can the sting of an angry whip on a tender backside be considered gentle?
Or the jabbing of the butt end of a crop on the cheek?
Of course, once again, much of the process is subjective; directly related to the “trainer”.
“You’re responsible for what you tame.” said the fox to The Little Prince. Another quote is, ““If you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life.”
A wise fox, that boy.
Does the Horse Trainer who ‘breaks’ horses shine like the sun in the horse’s life? Does he take responsibility for that horse? How about that “Gentler” who has forced himself and his ways upon a gentle but, perhaps, confused equine spirit with whips and spurs and shanks and jabs?
““It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” — yep – another wisom from the fox.
No one can see into anyone else’s heart except the bearer or the creator of that individual heart. What one sees on the outside may be only the sheath of the dagger that is harbored secretly in the heart. That which is yet to be admitted. But the glint reflects that pain, that anger to the outward world of the horse.
The horse who’s eyes are wide open in fear of punishment.
The horse who’s tail is tucked tightly between stiff, braced legs.
The horses’s who receive the blows from the dagger in the human’s heart.
That horse who sheds inward tears that the human cannot shed for herself as yet.
Even the ‘gentling’ bears and transmits the scars of a wounded heart and soul. And, through misguided or blinded perceptions the terror lives on … over and over and over again.
Strong physical blows with hand and foot.
All misunderstood to be the horse’s ‘natural’ ways.
Be wary of those who claim to be gentle. True gentleness is easily discerned by all and needs no words.
It can be felt in the soul.
Is it truly the horse that is gentled or tamed? Or is the human who is reflected in the horse’s spirit by the horse’s spirit?
The human can only be ‘gentled’ when allowed.
The horse becomes defensive when forced. Cannot think, cannot learn but f.e.e.l.s. it all.
The pain and torture of the hidden dagger can be perpetuated in the guise of misappropriated words and titles?
Perhaps — they are merely excuses.
For the heart who does not recognize the dagger for what it is can only see through a damaged spirit.
Maybe that heart needs to look into itself and see through the horse’s eyes.
Feel through the horse’s heart.
Live the horse’s truth.
Breaking or Gentling?
Or, teaching? … teaching the young colt or the older, traumatized horse through kind encouragement and pleasant lessons with wisdom from the generations of horses gone before?
Teaching with love, with enthusiasm, with light of heart and hand.
I think I like teaching much better …
I think the horses do, too.