On Being Adversarial


Being adversarial has been a common topic in lessons this last week.  None of my clients are mean, none wear big spurs or carries whips that leave welts on disobedient horses.  No one has a hot temper, it isn’t that.

We tend towards a more passive-aggressive type of adversarial behavior.  It starts by innocently picking sides.  We choose a trainer or a discipline.  We want to help our horses; we want to be a better rider.

Frequently it grows more personal than that, more emotional.  It might be a frustration with our horse or our riding.   We measure our progress unfairly.  We betray our dreams or ideals and the adversity comes out in ways we don’t expect and don’t notice right away.  We all have these days when the forces that be just push a bit too hard.

Adversity starts by picking sides. Dressage or reining.  Elephants or donkeys.  We forget that the best work is done with relaxed communication and negotiation, because we are stronger united, and the ride is more fun to share than to take alone.  We are all herd animals after all.

In the riding world, we try to get better at keeping lines of communication open, and we know name calling our horse rarely gets the desired result.  We work towards free, forward movement WITH our horse, to form a more perfect Union.  But we wake up and all of a sudden we are fighting against our better selves.

Et Voila!  Voltaire says,
Don’t Let the Perfect become the Enemy of the Good

Amen, my Froggy Brother.
One step at a time.

Anna Blake

1 thought on “On Being Adversarial”

  1. Lisa Crispin wrote:
    So true, and applies not only to our relationships with equines!

    3/24/2010 6:29 AM Erica wrote:
    Here’s a subject close to my heart! Hope you go into more detail about how some horses (we won’t mention any names!) subtly suck some riders (again, no names!) into adversarial modes! And how you have to be such a good listener to recognize the resistance and respond to it immediately and appropriately instead of five strides too late! Sigh. I’ll learn someday…

    3/24/2010 1:07 PM jenipher gass wrote:
    Hurray! I love it and there are pictures YEEEHAW!!! Can’t wait to hear and see more in the life of Miss Anne.The whole Adversity thing is something that not everyone, but most everyone does I think Including myself. I find that if I take A few minutes before I ride just to talk to my horse and see how he is feeling than I am more pliable and so is he. I love hearing about the goings on around the barn it makes me feel like a part of it. Hope you enjoy the spring and the sunshine.


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