Friday, February 14, 2014

Respect and Communication Leads To Better Understanding

Respect is a much needed component of communication. If you have ever had a conversation with someone who doesn't have any respect for you, or you may not have had much respect for them. You can compare this to a conversation you had with someone where both parties respect each other greatly and you can clearly see the point I'm trying to make. But the line for respect and disrespect is one that is not very clear.

What exactly is respect or to be respectful?
We all know the words and feel as though we know what they mean. But there are many times when we want to show respect for one and by doing so we disrespect another. I think the problem in this lies in the fact that we take things personally and not for what it really is. Facts are facts and sometimes we need to learn to accept the facts and move on and not feel disrespected.

There are many of us who do our best to respect others. Or at least try not to disrespect them. Sometimes by doing this, the other party will disrespect us. The main reason for this in my opinion is we are not accepting and or acknowledging  the fact that we deserve respect in return. We all deserve respect. Its a two way street. Of course we need to show respect to others if we expect them to respect us back. There may be times that we need to say, "Hey, I'm trying to show you some respect, How about a little in return". This will show that we have self-respect. We need to respect ourselves if we expect others to respect us as well.

How about the times we don't tell people the things they should hear because we don't want to hurt them or we think they might misunderstand?  We feel we are being respectful by not saying and hurting them. But we are really disrespecting them by hiding this from them. Hidden facts are a very disrespectful thing, especially when you are communicating something to someone or your horse. They deserve to have all the facts.

So how does all this relate to communication?  
Well communication is used by all forms of life to communicate our wants, needs and ambitions. Many species play games with their communications to gain an upper hand, but none more than the human race. So much purposeful disrespect is shown by humans its sickening.  We see it very clearly in Politicians and Business men. In commercials and advertisements everywhere. We see all forms of slander adds, not giving all the facts, trying to get us to their side or to buy their product. This all plays on our own self-respect, making us feel like we have to make a definitive choice. In many ways it takes so much away from us if we fall for any of it. Taking sides closes our minds and blocks the paths to understanding. By not allowing ourselves to see the different views of others, and or discrediting them, we lose out on comparisons that would lead to better understanding.  Many of us jump on a band wagon and join the cause, even if it is a demise to humanity. This in turn breeds more disrespect. Sometimes through retaliation from the other side but mostly because people want to feel like they are liked by others so they join in. The disrespectful behavior becomes the most important part of the communication so they can tip the scales in their favor and persuade us to think in that way.

I see this in the horse world as well. There are many Trainers and Instructors out there. All of them have something to share with us. Many are very similar in their concepts and techniques. It bothers me a lot when I hear another person say discrediting or disrespectful things about someone who works to help others. Especially when it is someone else in the same field. To me its not that they are knocking a person down, I see through all that and seek the facts. Its more that I see a person who has little to no self respect, and that saddens me. The fact that they want others to think they are better than the person they are knocking says real loud and clear that they are insecure, or in desperate need to show that they know something about the subject or topic. Even though the way they understand it is just different than the person they are running off about. If we have enough respect to try and understand other points of view it will help us in the long run by giving us another path to better understanding. To me there is no one person better than anyone else. Regardless of skill level. I have learned as much from my students, (some of which were very green and inexperienced) as I have from very experienced trainers. We all have something to share, and we all have different strengths and weaknesses. We just need to learn where to look to find understanding. You would be amazed at some of the places it shows up. Sometimes understanding of one thing comes from something you would think is totally unrelated. Sometimes the path to understanding is covered up by things we can't see through. But if we look for it we will find it. It truly is everywhere you look.

So why did I go through  all that?
Well us humans we tend to carry this into our work with our horses. Not showing them enough respect. We tend to go in and act as if we know it all and they need to listen. We can be so arrogant without even trying. Its learned behavior and getting worse as generations come up behind us. It should all start with having self respect. Self respect comes from confidence and knowledge and helps us find understanding; When we understand that we have the ability and responsibility to provide for the horses needs, that leads to respecting the horse. Then we move to respecting the fact that the horse has every right to have self-respect and to demand respect from us.When they do, they will do the same for us. Then the cycle can continue. Each time it does we gain more respect, better communication and more understanding.

We can respect them by evaluating and being aware of their needs and providing for them. This is more than just giving them food, shelter, and water. They have emotional needs as well and we should provide for those needs. We do that by listening to them. They can't tell us verbally but we can learn to read them. They are always telling us something. Sometimes many things all at once. The more I do this the more it amazes me how much they say to us and we just didn't understand. In most cases this is from our lack of awareness and acknowledging respect for them.

An example of how better results come through respect.
Have you ever worked at a place or been in a situation where one person suggests something and its ignored while someone else could suggest something even more ridiculous and it would be accepted? This would be an example of a person having more respect for one over the other. Even though in this situation it isn't warranted.

I gave the example above to show that if there is a mutual respect for each other, then you can ask things that may otherwise be ignored. Your conversations can go in almost any direction and not be dismissed as ridiculous. This when it comes to horses will give them so much try and open the lines of communication like you never imagined. A simple concept that will get your horse to respect you more is,"Encourage don't Demand" Give them the respect to choose and think things out for themselves. Just remember you may need to gently guide them there. We discussed this in our last post, There Are No Wrong Answers"

I hope many people get to read this and it makes sense. I also hope others have more to add to this through the comment section in ways that help us all make the world a better place.
If you like this and think others will to,  please share it out to your friends.
Thanks for reading.


  1. You make the world a better place Ron, and you write about one of my favorite topics...respect for the horse. My frustration is ... I show a lot and I see a lot of trainers that disrespect their horses and use intimidation, negative reinforcement and pain to train and motivate their horses. Big names...names you would probably recognize. If we don't change that trend I believe the government will eventually get more involved...and we don't want that as they don't know a whole lot about horses. Thank you for trying to make a difference and for reminding me that there are still some good trainers out there who respect the horse.

    1. Thank you for your comment. unfortunately people do what they know or have learned. And if there is a group all doing the same thing then it appears to be acceptable. We don't all have the same influences so learning and understanding is different for us all.

      If we can look at these trainers you mention above and learn to understand what they do and why they do it. Then we might be able to find a way to help them. It certainly won't help If we say negative things to them. Just like it is hard to get your horses respect with negative reinforcement. But if we learned to understand to the best of our ability and find a way to respectfully and positively redirect their methods and techniques it would make a difference. The problem is a large one to conquer and it won't be done all at once. The key will be to teach the new people coming into this lifestyle and eventually this will become the normal.

      Just try to remember that knocking them down or discrediting them hurts us more than them. Try to see their point of view. This will bring us to a better understanding. At least in this way we can rise above and stay respectful. If we lower ourselves to being discrediting and disrespectful it effects who we are. Being disrespectful becomes a habit and comes out in us being arrogant without us even being aware of it. To practice being respectful will raise our own self respect and become a good habit and give us much better understanding in all situations.
      Thanks again

  2. good work,i will learn to listen, even in the barn the horse will tell me where to scratch or brush.

  3. Lots of good stuff in this post. Respect is definitely the biggest thing I see and hear when watching different trainers and reading articles in horse magazines. But...a lot of them focus on the horse respecting us not the other way around. Quite often I wonder: am I being too passive; too demanding; am I sending clear or conlicting signals? Ron has made me think about things from the horses perspective more than any trainer I've dealt with in the past. I have so much to learn & my journey has barely begun. All I know is...without Ron's insight & help I would have given up on my horse a long time ago. I think sometimes people give up on their horses too soon. I find this so sad for horses that get passed from home to home without ever getting the opportunity to be understood and helped. Respect from either a human or animal must be earned. I think some people think respect = domination. They may get respect but no one really likes them. That's not the type of relationship I want with my friends or horse.

    1. Thank you for your comment as well as the compliments.
      As always you shine a light at a different angle. This helps others find another path to understanding.
      People do give up on their horses to easily. I am contacted almost weekly by people trying to find their horse a new home. The sad part is most of them are also looking for another horse. One that has more training. I feel that Training is over rated. I see many horses with little training out perform horses that have been in training there hole life. What makes all the difference is relationship. Relationship will trump training in most cases and it can be built very easily.
      I find it funny that people send their horse to a trainer to teach their horses. All the things the trainer teaches the horse, they already knew how to do the day it was born. What makes more sense is that "WE" learn how to communicate our intentions. A horse will naturally seek out intention. If they are unsure then they will run away or try to chase off the threat. If we work on respecting the horse and getting them to accept and appreciate us, then they will always stick around and try real hard to learn our intention. This opens the lines to communication and helps build a foundation for a great relationship. If people would take the time to learn this and invest in themselves instead of just sending their horse out for training then they might get better results. This is the main reason we don't charge any extra for lessons or instructions while their horse is here for training. We can do better for the horses if their owners are involved.
      I can't begin to speak fully on how much I appreciate your determination and willingness to seek understanding for your boy Cody. the fact that you didn't give up on him and made such improvements with him is a testament to so many. I can only hope you have inspired more to do the same.
      Thanks again.

  4. Another thing I have learned is to not constantly focus on what is wrong with my horse. I am trying to look at myself and evaluate how I relate and communicate with him.

    1. A great point as well. If we get others to read " There Are No Wrong Answers" and learn to guide their horse toward the end result instead of demanding a response, then they may learn to do the same. We all tend to evaluate the horses performance but most of us neglect to evaluating ourselves and what part we have in their performance.

  5. I've seen people send their horse for training, bring them home and the horse slowly returns to the same old problem behavior. Then they blame the trainer because THEY did not learn how to maintain what the trainer accomplished. Now the trainer & horse get a bad rap when in reality the owner is a major part of the problem. People must be willing to learn and become involved. Even if we are not as effective as you are, it's better than not learning or trying at all.

    1. I see that as well. I also see people go out and buy a trained horse who does great for them when they go look at it. Then when they get the horse home after a week or so the horse starts acting up. The most common things people say in these situations are. They must have drugged the horse, or this horse isn't as trained as they said it was.
      This discredits the person who sold the horse when most of the problem really comes from the horse and the new owner not reestablishing a foundation and a relationship, or the new owner just doesn't know what they are doing.
      The horse needs to know you can provide for all their needs. If you can't show them this then all the training in the world will only help for short periods of time.