Controlling the Workforce.

How do you control your workforce?
How do you make them work harder and faster, how do you stop them when they are going the wrong way. You need to be able to whip up enthusiasm on demand, and to curb that enthusiasm when demand lessens. Spurring them on is vital, but the ability to rein them back when they have the bit between their teeth is just as important.
It needs someone skilled in the saddle to over ride the desires of the workforce. Riding roughshod over their feelings is risky, too cavalier an approach can lead to a fall.
Modern management in the UK wouldn’t dream of treating their workforce in this way, they outsource the job to a country where they can still get away with that sort of management, where mass suicide of the labourers is considered a stable vice, akin to crib biting or wind sucking.
But this is the way the equestrian establishment still control horses in the UK, and across most of what is laughingly called the civilised world. I love Ghandi’s reply when asked what he thought of Western Civilisation. “I think it would be a very good idea.” And it could start with the horse.
No that’s silly. Guantanamo Bay is worse. Abu Ghraib is worse. The eviction of the Roma is worse. The pointless carnage in Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Palestine, Pakistan etc etc Fill in the aspects of man’s inhumanity that particularly bug you, and they should come first, but as part of a move towards civilisation, treating the horse with a modicum of humanity would be a good idea as well.
But the guys who wrote, and continue to write Horse History, and “manuals of Horsemanship” have a very skewed agenda. For a start, the guys who worked with horses and who understand horses, don’t  feature. These books are written by, and for, the owners of horses.
Horse ownership has always been a class issue. Horses are expensive in time and food and labour. They were a symbol of status in the first urban civilisations that sprang up between the rivers, Mesopotamia, and from the Hooray Hammurabi’s onwards, the history of the horse, is the history of the guys who used the horse to dominate.
From Kikulli’s control freakery, to Xenophon’s manual of horsemanship for officer cadets, to modern British Horse Society publications, the emphasis is on control and status. But there is another way, the working class way.
In the good old days, when I was young, cue Hovis advert music, and bad impersonation of Monty Python’s Four Yorkshiremen sketch, the milkman took full bottles from the milkfloat and took them to each customers door, picking up the empties and bringing them back to the float. The horse took the float round the roads, waiting for the milkman to collect more bottles and deposit empties.
The horse does one half of the job, shifting the bulk around the streets, the man does the doorstepping bit and seduces any females who have the ability to pretend surprise when the milkman appears at the door while they are scantily clad. The fact that the milkman and his horse have been clipclopping up and down this street at the same time for three generations, and apparently women can still be surprised by their arrival, is why the horse tends to do his own thing and ignore people. They are clearly thick as two short but relatively broad pieces of timber.
Training horses to do this sort of work isn’t difficult, even James Bond could do it. Apparently Sean Connery, THE James Bond for those who remember the Hovis advert and the Four Yorkshireman sketch, was a qualified Co-Op horsedrawn milkfloat driver, but he gave up a good safe career for the sake of promoting inappropriate scottish accents in action films. Such is life.
The training is really easy, lead the horse down the route, pulling the float, a few times. After a bit you notice it knows the way. Let it carry on. This is called education, from the Latin Ex Ducere, to lead out. So that is what you do, lead them out.
Oh Shit. I could have sold Level one, two and three of the Obama Education System, making it sound like an American Presidential system would have done wonders for sales, and the video’s showing me looking smooth suave and unbelievably macho, would have been clogging the charity shops for the next few decades, but I go and blow it by giving the whole game away.
Lead them out, take them for a walk, show them what you want them to do, where you want them to go. That’s it. No Books, no videos and I have probably blown the sales of the Simon Mulholland/Nick Sanders Natural Horsemanship Posing Pouch.
Nick and I are pretty observant chaps, so we tend to observe chaps in chaps, and one thing is clear as a cows ass at noon, the essence of chaps on chaps, is that they are golden suede, and the jeans are a bright blue. From in front this actually only leaves the bright blue jeans visible at the groinal area. But Nick and I, in our enthusiasm to save the worlds dwindling supply of suede, have developed the Natural Horsemanship Chaplite. You get all the benefit of chaps, in that a chap’s groinal area is highlighted with a golden suede posing pouch on a background of blue denim, but far fewer cows die. Yes, Chaplite, a chap’s best friend, or at least a way of pretending a chap’s best friend is a lot bigger than it actually  is, but without so many dead cows.
Horsemanship is really pretty easy if you don’t try to dominate. Ask the  horse to give you a hand to do a job, and you will be amazed at the results. Try to force it to make you look impressive and you are going to need all these manuals of horsemanship, whips, bits, spurs, dominance theory, groinal emphasis and all the rest. But I can’t really sell you anything, because you either have the time to take your horse for a walk, in which case training is taken care of, or you don’t, in which case you will buy into the gadget and gag theory, and try to make the most willing animal you will ever work with, do things. But although horses are incredibly willing, they just don’t happen to be willing to be dominated.
You can get submission. Violence works. You can work together, it is so easy, even the lower classes can do it. Shame the upper classes can’t.

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One Response to Controlling the Workforce.

  1. PiePony says:

    Keep up the advocacy for consideration in the training and handling of horses. You have such an individual style of writing and political uncorrectness. There are a few who write with a similar message, Josepha Guillaume http://www.bitlessdressage.com/ and http://www.artofnaturaldressage.com , Chuck Mintzlaff http://friendshiptraining.org/ to name a couple. The manufacture of bitless bridles has spread so there must be increased demand, even though to those of us who train without bits, it appears that you “preach to the converted”, some of the hard work must be reaching humans and allowing consideration of more humane methods. Be careful Simon, I cannot see you as mainstream, although, should the revolution of bitless and barefoot become accepted by FEI, I think we shall all be dancing with horses and happy to conform. xx

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