All methods, techniques, and tools are neutral, until a human uses it. Therefore even the 'best' tool, method and technique can lead to a drama when used in the wrong way.
So every method, every tool can be used, not used, misused and used to abuse.
Because it's always the human behind the tool.
You are the tool
Some tools are seen as very controversial in horse training - for example the whip - and some people are very much against it.
But a whip on the ground won’t hit or hurt a horse, it only comes to life when a human touches it.
Therefore, a whip in the hands of a trainer in an angry and disempowering state will have a different effect than a whip in the hands of a trainer in a happy and empowering state.
A whip itself will never attack a horse. It will never hurt a horse out of the blue. It's always te human behind the whip who brings a whip fully alive; you ARE the whip.
The same applies to reins and bits.
It's not you - the reins - the bit - the mouth as if these are separate things.
You connect with the horse through your 'extension': the reins and bit; you ARE the reins, you ARE the bit.
It's never the tool
Whatever tool you use, it's never the bit, it's never the whip, it's always the human behind the tool.
Bits, reins, whips and other tools are only useful or harmful if humans touch them. They are an extension of you and your energy. They don’t become energy until you touch it.
Or course whips can be used to cause pain. And not all tools are equal, some tools - such as the whip - have greater capacity to create pressure.
But if you're using the whip correctly, if you use it as an extension of your arm and energy, it does no more harm than it would lying on the floor.
Therefore if we start to 'judge' a piece of equipment, we should judge the human in the first place 😉
And we should not judge a certain tool - such as a whip - in order to try to make ourselves seem more kind and loving to our horse.
Every tool, method, technique can be used with the best intent, but from the horse's perspective it might not always be the best way to use it;
- Riders who ride with loose reins to prevent the mouth from harm, might be ruining the back the horse when their horse runs like a 'hammock'.
- A wrongly timed clicker can confuse the horse and bring him mentally out of balance.
- A ‘bossy’ training style at liberty can surpress or ruin the horse's spirit.
But riders who have good energy and feel are appreciated by the horse because of their refined and clear communication. They also might use the whip to make them as 'horizontal' and long as the horse, because with the whip they can extend their energy bubble.
Thinking that it's about the tool, method, technique, makes us narrow minded and ignorant, because you always need to see the Bigger Picture.
See the Bigger Picture
It’s all a matter of perspective when a tool, method or technique is used. You always need to be aware of the Bigger Picture when a tool is used;
- Is the rider very task and goal oriented or more horse oriented, putting the needs of the horse first?
- What's the emotional state of the rider? Does he feel angry, defiant, hurt, worried, stressed? Or does he feel grateful, peaceful, playful and helpful?
- What kind of training style is the rider using? Is he very 'bossy' or is he more a 'coach' for his horse?
- Does the rider use the tool with feel and in an organical way, or does the rider use it in a technical, mechanical way?
- Is the rider not losing sight of the essence in horse training?
- What is the quality of the relationship between rider and horse? We use tools to establish a link between ourselves and our horses, but before any tool is used, there has to be already a bond between the rider and the horse.
We need to keep more variables in mind when 'judging' a tool. Because it's not about the tool, it's about how the tool is used in the Bigger Picture.
Learn how to use a tool
Applying an 'avoidance' strategy is an option if you can't use a tool properly, but learning how to use a tool by setting all variables right, might be a more useful and helpful option.
Because even a cordeo can be horrible to a horse when you pull on it all the time. And people can turn halters into instruments of pain if they really want to. And you could easily use reins to smack a horse around. And a wrongly timed clicker can be harmful to a horse.
So we might as well avoid these tools too.
Instead of forbidding certain tools you can also learn how to use the tool, and most importantly, how to use your energy properly when using the tools.
Tools are an extension of your thoughts and energy
Tools are not only an extension of your physical, but also of your mental and emotional part.
For example: You can have loose reins but the horse can feel emotional stress through the rein.
Tools are only an extension of you and your visualization and your energy.
Again: They don’t become energy until you touch it.
So we need to learn to master our thoughts, energy and emotions.
Master your thoughts, emotions and energy
It's always the human behind the tool, therefore never use any tool if you are tense, anxious, angry or frustrated.
Master your emotions and be sure you are always calm, centered, grounded and relaxed.
And master your timing and dosing of your energy when dealing with horses.