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The Path of the Horse eBook on Kindle takes the reader beyond the Path of the Horse documentary, following Stormy May's path in the years following the release of the movie. Originally released in 2012 and updated in 2016.

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How do we see horses?

Today was the first OurHorses community call.  We were able to bring together quite a few of the people leading the way to changing humanity’s view of horses and their place in our lives.  One of the topics brought up was how to deal with people who see horses as livestock, commodities that exist for our own purposes and nothing beyond that.

We would love to open up a discussion here in the comments section for anyone who has ideas of how to get across the feeling that horses are their own autonomous beings.  It seems that if a person is not starting from that feeling, there would be no understanding of needing to change our current practices with horses.

Any ideas?

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7 Responses to How do we see horses?

  • kathie says:

    i usually start by mentioning the whole “horses are mammals just like us, feel and avoid pain as they are not masochists….”
    then on about how horses are controlled by pain(all the science etc) and then questioning the person to ask themselves if they think this is right.
    i like to bring up human slavery as a comparison, especially if you are actually with a horse at the time of the conversation. “look at this horse, if she were a giant human standing here, would it be ok to jump on her back and hurt her with metal, for our pleasure???
    isn’t it true that empathy is learned very young from parents? and i see an alot of people around here with no empathy…. so how can we change that?
    usually i try to dialogue with those who are interested, having educational articles like here on this site, and those older ones about the horses’ backs are the most helpful tool i have found so far.

    • Deb says:

      Hi Kathie,
      RE: Beginning the Conversation & Empathy & Compassion for Ourselves
      I like how you approach the topic with people. It helps when they know we’re not attacking them or their belief system, and what you’re suggesting is straightforward enough that many may recognize that even as they are likely to defend their viewpoint.
      Keeping that in mind, I’m careful with how I approach people, just as I would with someone who had their beagle tied up outside a store with a choke collar on. It went well because I used the style that you have described and the people were receptive.
      I find that being willing to “Start a conversation” often allows others to share their beliefs.
      For me, that is the best way to begin honestly looking at my own mental habits.
      With the topic of empathy, I continue to try to lead with my own example. Just recently, I had a conversation with someone close to me, who was not understanding my viewpoint.
      Due to the trust between us, we were both able to be honest and I was able to raise this point.
      Because I will often admit when I have “room for improvement”, this person was eventually receptive to what I was saying.
      It doesn’t always go that way, but I think we can give ourselves credit for raising the issue as we’re able and accept times when this does not go how we would like – even if we lack courage, at times. This is what I learned from Tara Brach about Radical Acceptance: compassion for self is included.
      Thanks for this strong, gentle reminder.

  • telling folks they shouldn’t ride or compete is probably not going to go over very well, they need to ‘see’ it and feel it. I don’t think folks can understand the deepest part of the horse until they see regular demonstrations of say liberty play, bareback and bitless riding, horse therapy for humans, etc, and come to want that kind of relationship themselves. Only in seeking that kind of connection will they find and understand it. baby steps….thats my thoughts anyway.

    • Deb says:

      spottedponyrider,
      I like what you’ve written here. This has ocurred to me when I’ve thought of approaching someone I used to be friends wtih who was not usually receptive to any new or different ideas. Even for her to accept that riding western wasn’t inferior was a significant change.
      I am reminded of a teacher who suggested that we be careful not to try to get others to our way of thinking.
      Now, I see that former approach of mine (hopefully) as disrespectful.
      At the same time, I want to advocate for the horses, too.
      This is why I can agree with both you and Kathie.

  • I think there is a very real change that occurs with working and/or playing on the ground. the more that it happens the more the relationship changes. If you only sit on a horse you never fully get the bond. the bond that comes from eye contact, the locked on ear, the relaxed head that seeks to be rubbed. Try just trotting alongside a horse. In riding a horse it is often something you do to it, in ground work it is something you do together. ironically this arguement in a business people management context would have 100% audience approval, move to our horses and how many would start to shake heads or fold arms and cross legs….. but why….

    • Deb says:

      I’m grateful that this discussion is happening.
      When I was young, I preferred to work with horses on the ground even though I also enjoyed riding.
      Even today someone, with no interest in riding, asked me if I like to ride horses. When I said “No”, the question of what to do with horses came up.
      A good one that I might have been hard-pressed to answer at different points in the past.
      So, I acknowledge a good question and gave me best answer.
      Like any other mythology, this will likely take time and effort to dispel.
      I look forward to those opportunites, as I am able.
      “Me and my horse”, I was just doing what you described with a dog in my care who has a lot of body tension. The bodywork, I originally learned on horses along with better ways to communicate than man-handling I had to unlearn.

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