The words we use shape a reality. When we call our horse a dummy, idiot, moron, retard, or a turd, even if we jest, we are shaping a reality in our head. So your horse doesn’t understand those words – you do – and your horse sure does understand your tone of voice.
I see this often with young girls – and no it isn’t just this generation. I saw it 30 years ago when I was a college student who helped a trainer set up for her riding lessons. IMO it is a power trip – passing along the putdowns they hear from their peers and possibly parents, to a “safe” being that doesn’t know what they are talking about. It makes them feel in control, powerful and superior.
Middle and High School are not cheerful times for most – and it is the time of the barbed friendships, gossip, and the stab-you-in-the-back friendships. This plays out in communication and coming from a family that had the art of the putdown sharpened to a knife point, I can tell you it is very damaging to relationships to continue in this manner.
In the long run it sets a tone for how you work with your horse and how you view your horse. Suddenly, you find these girls dissatisfied and unhappy – the horse isn’t what they expected – and later in life they pass this method of communication onward to others in their life – partners and their children.
Why not approach this from the perspective of building up and not tearing down?
Dante gets called a genius – a smartie and a smartypants. I like to give him verbal praise as he does something I’ve asked him to do because it makes me feel proud of what he did and you see he feels good as his ears prick forward and he radiates contentment. While food is a great reward, it is not the only way to show your horse that he is something truly special.
Please, please reconsider shaping your relationship with your horse to a more positive, building up, partnership. Think of how you would want a teacher you admire to talk to you when they are trying to instruct you.
Let your horse bask in praise – not putdowns.