ACompassionate training methods translate to “respectful and humane” in that our techniques do not come from the ego---we are willing to quell our instinctive competitiveness and feelings of “us versus them” in the name of equine welfare, above all else.
Be aware of how a particular training technique may push a horse more quickly than he can comprehend or ask more of him physically than his body can handle. Some training practices can set a young horse up for a short career and early onset lameness due to asking for too much, too soon. The same holds true in human sports training and physiology, where excessive overtraining and improper muscular development can lead to early breakdown in muscles, tendons and ligaments and produce lingering fatigue that removes all enjoyment from an activity, if the activity is possible at all.
Compassionate training and riding encompasses a fundamental understanding of the biomechanics of the horse’s musculoskeletal system. There are limits to the duration and intensity of workouts, given the horse’s stage of development. Even horses used in recreational activities such as trail riding are susceptible to injury if worked especially hard on weekends then left standing around during the week with no additional exercise.
Also, keep in mind that horses have a weight-bearing load tolerance. Riders are cautioned to be aware of exceeding the horse’s comfort zone and ability to carry their weight plus tack without doing spinal damage. It is up to each individual to be truthful regarding his or her own level of competence in approaching any method of riding as it relates to equine development so as to do no harm to the horse.
If we place compassion at the base for our training, whether for competition or recreational purposes, the horse will benefit. When we take our ego out of the equation, at least to the degree that it is not the dominating reason behind our equestrian activity, we expand our field of vision to that of observing--not judging---the industry at large and the welfare of all horses.
For our own well-being, we are positively affected by establishing a calm, clear state of mind with which to approach and interact with horses and other horsepeople. If we strive to maintain that state, we will inevitably inspire and educate others to do so as well.