What is respect?


What is respect?

"During a course that I was giving to some students at the Ecole Blondeau, we were discussing the relationship that must be established between man and the horse.  We started talking about "respect".   

One student asked a vey interesting question:  "But how would you define respect?"   

That is in fact a very good question!   

We say that the horse must respect us:  
Does this mean he must be submissive?    
Do we expect him to behave like a robot?  
Or should he become a willing colleague for the task ahead?    

Everyone you ask will give a different definition of respect.

We have to think about who we are about to train as being a future colleague and we must accept that he will use his own intelligence and a certain amount of independence.     

However, working together means respecting the rules in order to obtain a smooth running professional life.     

In this case, respect is the rapport between power and friendship, as described by Jocelyne Porcher in her book about re-inventing the connection between breeders and animals (Éleveurs et Animaux, réinventer le lien)

Of course man has an advantage over the horse during its education as a youngster - the man knows the final objective whilst the horse does not.  
So yes, there is an unequal footing!  But if the youngster is given coherent rules for learning where everything is organised so that he can quickly learn his work with man, this shared activity can become a source of fulfilment for them both.       

So I think that we can say that respect between man and horse is not the same as the relationship with a pet dog at home.  Rather, respect is to give the horse a quality of life and learning conditions which allow him to understand clearly what is asked of him, letting him to use his intelligence so that he can participate in the common objective because he knows what he has to do.  He needs to be taught with firmness but never with violence.  

In this way, the work for both horse and rider will be enjoyable.

On the other hand, if the instructions are not clear, man's gestures imprecise, and the training area is not one of serenity, the work will become a trial in spite of stroking and carrots!"   

Sophie Nicod - 28.11.2016

About the Author

Sophie Barreau, mission manager, ethologist, BFEE2 and BEES1 instructor, joined our team in October 2016.  Her tasks were to work on the research programme CHEVALEDUC with Jocelyne Porcher INRA and to teach student equine ethology as well as the scientific advances made in the relationship of man and horse at work. 

In the articles « Through Sophie’s eyes », she shares her passion with us.


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