Lately, I am discovering I like mares more and more. They are so NOT like most of us humans.  They have a refreshing honesty. “If you aren’t going to drive the bus, get out of my way and I’ll do it.” Succinct, blunt and clean with her intention- a mare will get the job done.

Thank you. Bluntness is a gift after so much of passive aggressive chatter like, “Honey, would you mind, if you have a minute and it isn’t too much trouble…?”  Why don’t we just say what we mean?

Lots of us were raised to think it is more important to be polite than honest. Women can perfect a passive aggressive communication style that is indirect and manipulative, but on the surface polite and caring. It’s a communication style that can be funny in a sitcom, but it doesn’t work with horses.

Horses are honest. The language of the herd is more of a Say what you mean and mean what you say approach. No one apologizes for their feelings or tries to control outcome; they breathe and ask for what they want.

There is a natural clash of communication styles in the barn. A novice rider might give what she thinks is a clear cue and the horse may ignore it completely!  A smart mare may flick an ear, but they keep on “driving the bus” until someone qualified shows up to take over. It’s just common sense to ignore a nagging, whining passenger.

Eventually most of us want to have steering, so riding (communication) lessons begin.  I never see physically cruel riders in lessons- no one using whips and spurs in anger. But instead of asking for what we want clearly and then expecting an answer- we tease, cajole, nag, and in the worst cases, use the if you really loved me… threat to get our way with horses. Rather than introduce ourselves honestly, we stalk them like a coyote with ulterior motives.

Cathy Meyer, divorce coach, says “When someone hits you or yells at you, you know that you’ve been abused. It is obvious and easily identified. Covert abuse is subtle and veiled or disguised by actions that appear to be normal, at times loving and caring. The passive aggressive person is a master at covert abuse.”

Is abuse more acceptable in the guise of kindness?

Horses are a bit ahead of humans in communication. They avoid the emotional quicksand and proceed to the real issue. Respect is the language of the herd and Boss (Alpha) Mare leadership is more about confidence and responsibility than popularity.

Frequently horse-women acquire this honesty from Boss Mares and begin to be less welcome in ladies’ parlors where gossip passes as truth and coyotes pose as the Queen.

Have you crossed the mare line and become a social liability? Good for you.

“Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” Margaret Thatcher

Anna, Infinity Farm.

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Comment by Jackie Cochran on September 2, 2011 at 11:33am

Thank you for bringing up the abuse in the guise of kindness.  I am beginning to think that this is taking over much of the horse world.  Nag the horse until you get what you want then reward.  It looks nice and kind but the horses often end up not moving like horses normally do, and the noses are tucked in so "nice" as they shuffle around in a dust cloud.

And you are soooo right about us boss mare taught horsewomen no longer being welcome in ladies' parlors.  Mares have it right, and if we human females learned from them we would end up where we belong, in power or effectively sharing power with men.  If the women libbers had been taught by boss mares we would have gotten a lot further!

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