Why is physical punishment to a horse never acceptable? / quote

The reason why punishment is not useful is because it’s late, it’s badly timed. And a horse does not understand it. To them it is just being hurt for no reason.

7 Clinics, Betty Staley

Betty Staley talks about punishment very well in this series of DVDs and I can not help but convey her words of wisdom. Punishment, such as hitting the horse with your hand, your whip or your spurs, is just a completely useless act. Ultimately, such behavior can put you at risk and you obtain a result that is opposite to what you look for.

We should always keep in mind that horses have a very strong sense of self-preservation which, combined to a remarkable memory, will teach them very quickly to be afraid of humans if approached and worked with this punishment method.

For those who took some time to think about life, about their relationship with other beings (human or animal), they will probably not need to be convinced. For the others, as life does not always leave us the opportunity to think about real, deep and essential questions, some more practical arguments should be enough to convince them:

Betty Staley is a horsewoman promoting a gentle approach to horses

  • Timing is a key to a good horse training. Punishment always comes late, a couple of seconds after the unfortunate act committed by the horse. Then, the horse will not understand why it was hurt, it might associate the strike to another act it performed a little bit later, for sure it will not help to teach and educate the animal.
  • Punishment comes from anger and you do not need be a philosopher to understand that anger is never a good adviser. You can not perform good horsemanship if you lose your temper.
  • Punishment finds its source from frustration. And frustration is the consequence of a lack of knowledge. Basically, a rider who hits a horse expresses his ineptitude to be a horseman. Think about it: the only reason why your horse does not perform as you wish is that you did not explain yourself clearly enough.

Horse whips, spurs and other punishment tools should not be tolerated

To become a good horseman, you need self-control, humility and respect:

  • Self-control – Remain calm all the time, do not hesitate to take a break when you feel that anger coming. It is sometimes a lot more rewarding to stop and spend a few peaceful minutes with your horse than trying to force an exercise too far. Take the opportunity of this break to rub your horse everywhere, to desensitize it to your hand.
  • Humility – As an Homo Sapiens Sapiens, you are the most intelligent being in the riding arena or the round-pen _ if you’re not, you should give up at once! The most intelligent does not mean the most important though. That simply means you are in charge of the others, also that you are the one that should question itself in case something goes wrong.
  • Respect – The word says it all. Put your ego away, remember that four-legged being in front of you has the same rights as you do to live, to be treated gently and fairly. A pretty simple rule: you should be able to endure anything you inflict to your horse…

Yep, you may want to sell your whip and your brand new shiny spurs!

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