Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Comments on Respect

In writing this journal, I write forward, write out of me into space. I think, react, record and remember. I do it in a void because it's just my voice I'm listening to, trying to transcribe as accurately as possible my own thoughts. That makes it a closed system for the most part. 

Alone in a room, we can say whatever we want. Fictions can sneak in unannounced, scratching a twitching nerve. Over time, I've learned to hear most of the false notes when they occur. The way they scrape the ear and make me feel self-conscious lets me know I'm being gratuitous, lazy, or evasive. I just stop writing then. If I have a rule about this journal, it's to not write when I have nothing to say. But I can write when I don't yet know how to say what I'm thinking.

Thinking things into real words is something that matters to me. Dealing with a subject like fear, for example, becomes easier when I try to name it head on, even if I have to think a long way to get there. That's where I am with "respect" right now, trying to think toward an understanding of the concept  that I can accept. Some striking ideas appeared among the comments left in response to the Respect post I wrote the other day.

I'm finding that horses will let me have their feet out of an innate desire to cooperate. (From June)

This is exactly what I was grappling with: "What right do I have to impose my will on this horse?" (From Smazourek)

I wonder if respect ... needs to have some basis in equality. (From Calm, Forward and Straight)

Respect, in my mind, is a combination of politeness, some level of braveness, acknowledgment and acceptance of uniqueness and appreciation of abilities. (From Wolfie)

I find myself often asking myself how my horse sees what we do and how I really fit into her life. (From Story)

They speak to each other in another language, and they accept different things from each other than they expect from us. (From horsemom)

I feel like a detective who's discovered a bit of folded paper hidden between the pages of a book. Do these highlights act as code or contain a secret formula? Are they clues? Yes, and I can think about all of them.


Mary said...

I love the way your thinking gets me to thinking. I spent quite a bit of time pondering on your orginal post on this and couldn't get any of my thoughts written down in any way that would make sense. Thanks for making me think!

Anonymous said...

I did a post on this very subject a while ago - On Respect, Obedience and Submission - I think it's on one of my sidebars - this is a worthwhile subject for all horse people to think seriously about.

Karen said...

Fantastic post and comments. Wow. Lots to think about.

Deanna said...

Wonderful food for thought. And all people blessed to own a horse(s) should give this thought.
Thank you! Great post!!

June said...

I like the way you've picked out different thoughts that stand out to you.

I've found that in my case at least, progress works by some kind of dialectic - picking up disparate, even conflicting themes or ideas, and - rather than trying to choose between or make them agree - allow them to ferment together in my mind until some way forward presents itself.

It was our pony Chloe who started me on the Spilker Track. Chloe has never approved of being dominated, although she has to put up with it from the other horses. For many months after I decided to really respect Chloe, and to allow her maximum say in what happens to her, she refused to leave the pasture with me. All that has changed, and she and I are now on very good terms. What I can "do" with her is, however, much more limited than it once was - although the list of things she will allow is growing. I hold less dominance over her than before, but she respects me a whole lot more - evinced by the fact that she seeks out my company.

This is definitely the Slow Track. But these are the only horses I have, and I'm prepared to take the time.

June said...

I should add that giving Chloe this respect has changed her from a creature whom most people thought was one of the most difficult horses they'd ever had to deal with into one who is - well, a mensch.

smazourek said...

I know for me part of the problem has to do with my own upbringing by an abusive parent. I'm still learning how to differentiate respect from fear.

Some people never try to separate the two. I still gnash my teeth over the memory of the old barn owner defending using a chain on my mare by saying, "Oh she doesn't have a problem with the chain, she just respects it." Respects it my buttocks- she fears it and that's why you can't catch her you *#@$%*.

June said...

Among horses, dominance and leadership are two very different things. The corollary of dominance is submission rather than respect. I think in the past I was guilty of (oh-so-kindly-and-gently) exacting submission, rather than learning how to exercise leadership.

In our herd of four, the dominance hierarchy is exactly the upside-down opposite of the leadership hierarchy. Number One in dominance - he who Gets What He Wants When He Wants It - is least able to lead the others, while Number Four (the most courageous and independent one, yet last in line at the feeding trough) is the one the others all follow. Number Three (two can steal food from her-one is below her) is currently the herd leader, as she has figured out how to drive Number Four where she wants to go herself, thus causing Number One and Two to follow Number Four in the desired direction.

twohorses said...

I have been doing a lot of thinking about your posts about respect. For me, it is actually not about respect; like you, I think respect is fear managed and packaged to be acceptable. To me it is first and foremost about trust. Mutual trust between horse and human. I wouldn't ride a horse I don't trust, because I don't think it's safe to do so. If I don't trust the horse why then should he trust me?

Scout sounds a bit like Cassie, hot and anxious and probably very sensitive too? I keep thinking about "How the NFL pertains, Part III". You describe that fall you had off Scout because your mind overruled your instinct. Trust your own instinct about what Scout is trying to say.

June said...

Well said - I think you've nailed it - the issue is trust, not respect.