Why getting your horse to give into pressure isn’t really ‘making your idea their idea'.
Trying to make your idea your horse’s idea through pressure just doesn't make sense,
“Making your idea your horse’s idea” is another phrase I often hear simply recited without much thought.
Too often it is used to support the notion of simply being assertive and applying pressure until the horse ‘gets it’ and does what we want.
Let’s again consider what life would be like as a team member that gets subjected to this approach...
Your Boss has asked you to do a task and is reinforcing the request through increasing pressure until you comply in the way that they want.
First of all...
Would you feel that you were being asked to share their idea or would you feel that you were being made to submit to the pressure?
That you didn’t fully understand the request, in part or whole, and that you subsequently hesitated or maybe you responded incorrectly.
Your Boss immediately starts to apply increasing pressure with no clarification of what was required. Instead they just keep repeating the same request more assertively and demanding that you respond appropriately (meaning the response that they have in mind)
Would this cause you to...
Feel uncomfortable trying to figure out what was being asked?
Feel unable to stop and ask questions to clarify what was being asked of you?
Be worried about getting things wrong and hesitant to try at all?
Eventually feel under so much pressure that you would respond as best you could, feeling stressed that you were guessing what was being asked?
Putting you into a position where...
You are now being forced into guessing your response without any further information.
You know that you are still under the threat of greater pressure and discomfort, possibly pain (who determines when discomfort becomes pain?).
Which would make you...
Nervous and doubtful instead of having confidence to try?
Likely to change your mind partway through to try something else?
Go through a frantic assortment of possible answers to the question that you still haven’t understood, hoping to hit on the correct one before the pressure gets cranked up further?
Even if you manage to give the correct response, it would not really be you sharing or buying into the ideas that you appeared to now be acting upon.
Horses may resist because of lots of different things
If you look at it objectively, the idea of increasing pressure with the intention that the horse stops resisting and enthusiastically starts doing what we want…. all because it now shares our goals and ideas, doesn’t really make any sense.
First of all, the horse may not be resisting because of any particular conflict of ideas in the first place.
Most of the time, if our relationship is right, the horse will be quite happy to go along with our ideas, or at least try to.
We have to consider that there are many potential reasons why a horse isn’t responding in the way that we want.
It could be as simple as us asking at the wrong time.
For example, when footfall, weight distribution, and balance make it impossible for the horse to respond as asked.
It may be that the horse finds it difficult because of its conformation, fitness, or level of training.
Or it may be that we are not making ourselves understood while just getting louder and louder through pressure (dumb horse doesn’t get it).
Surely this is no different to the comic cliche of a tourist unable to speak in the locals language.
The visitor progresses to shouting the same unintelligible phrases and ends up being offensive and ignored or worse.
All this happens because they, as the foreigner, have failed to take responsibility for the lack of communication.
At the same time they have determined that the local is deficient or stupid for not being able to interpret their attempts to make themselves understood – after all, in their mind, what they are asking is obvious and simple.
Each and every episode of perceived resistance needs to be assessed individually.
We can then determine what support should be given to the horse to influence and enable change in the direction that we wish to progress.
Just upping pressure is not the best solution.
I can’t think of any cause of resistance that would be best resolved by simply upping pressure until the horse decides it needs to find a way to avoid the discomfort.
Why would I ever want my horse to see me as the source of something to escape from?
Surely I want to be seen as offering security and a place to turn to for support and confidence?
What sense does it make to teach that the way to respond to an unwanted behaviour is to present an even stronger undesirable behaviour?
Especially when the other party is far bigger, stronger, and faster and can read my intentions and emotions like an open book.