Few problems spontaneously fix themselves. Certain physical issues, like lacerations or sprains usually resolve themselves. Relationship issues, however, seldom resolve themselves without action.

Ignoring destructive behaviors won’t make them go away. Whether horse or human, most undesirable actions originate in fear. Bullies don’t have amazing self-esteem and aggression isn’t the result of great confidence. Disrespect is a symptom of unhealthy relationships. Abusive horses or husbands don’t behave as they do because they feel just so darn good about themselves.

Bad behavior comes from bad places.

Bad behavior is often a cry for help. From horses, children, or adults.

Bad behavior often escalates when it is a twisted way of seeking meaningful engagement.

Abusive behavior can be the result of ignoring milder attempts for attention or interaction.

The first sign of poor saddle fit often manifests in minor resistance to cues or negative changes in performance. As the physical irritation increases, so does the horse’s frustration. Horses can’t schedule coffee conferences with you to discuss their concerns. Horse owners must learn to ask and to always give the horse the benefit of their doubt.

Irritation, Frustration, Resistance

The pain of poor saddle fit is exacerbated by poor riding skills. Shifting rider weight from side to side or front to back can nail a horse in an already painful spot. As the irritation grows the horse’s manner and degree of attempts to communicate change. Resistance grows and performance suffers.

In many cases, rearing, and bucking are screams for help. Pain is real. Sometimes it’s physical and sometimes it’s emotional or psychic. When pushed past their limits, both people and horses do things they wouldn’t dream of otherwise.

Have you ever had a stitch in your side? That grabbing knife-like pain that takes you out of the game until it miraculously disappears? What if some big oaf expected you to smile, stand up straight, and demonstrate runway model moves, threatening to smack you if you didn’t get it right?

Why Bad Behavior Escalates

I’m intimately familiar with domestic violence. (Mr. Baber was not involved!) I’m not prone to argument or fighting. It’s not my thing. My first husband behaved badly with (what he thought was) great creativity. When I didn’t rant, rave, or sob, his bad behavior escalated. He was determined to get me to break down or behave just as badly so he could feel justified in his behavior.

I didn’t play along. I tried to make sense of the situation by responding rationally. As you may know, that plan seldom works out. He escalated. He was frustrated because he didn’t get the response he wanted. I wasn’t the genesis of his problems and I wasn’t the solution. But I learned a lot about relationship issues.

Ignoring issues won’t fix them.

If your horse has a physical issue, try to fix it. At the very least, don’t make it worse. Failure to address it may eventually lead to relationship issues.

If you have a relationship problem with your horse or someone else, you have two major options:

  1. Try to fix the problem
  2. Leave the relationship

When it comes to relationship with a horse, you’re the responsible one. Not the horse. God requires us to be good stewards. That makes us accountable for the horse’s well being.

In all things, remember that grace is a good thing.

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