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 Post subject: Obedience
PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 11:40 am 
White Lady
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Joined: Wed Apr 06, 2005 4:18 pm
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Location: Eriksbråten, Skotterud
Well, I have a habit of poking into modern taboo areas, so here I am. Writing about the importance of obedience. This word used to be a good one. Even a proud one. But is has gone foul. Why are we so afraid of it? I think it is because we are afraid of being obedient to the kind of authorities that we have:

- Tyrannic ones. Leaders or authorities that only think of their own well being, and oppress their citizens. A tyrannic leader will ask for blind obedience but never give anything back.
- Bureaucratic ones. Authorities with the right to say "no". And no one knows why. You cannot be obedient to something like that, and in addtition there is no single person to take the responsibility. To be obedient, you have to trust.
- Uncertain ones. "Oh, I am not sure, but I think we are going in that direction. Or was it that one. Let's try... Or shall we vote for it?"

But obedience can also be a good thing. It is often a very good way to learn something important. Something that is out of reach for you at the time being. In your present state. Ever heard of "a leap of faith"? Can that be done without an almost obedient trust?

I very much like the new version of "The Karate Kid". I never saw the old one, but I guess it is a bit of the same. As many movies about a teacher and his apprentice. As Sigrid Undset wrote, roughly translated: You must learn to serve and struggle before you can rule and give orders.
The apprentice has to take his jacket on and off, and pick it up off the ground so many times that he is sick and tired of it, so that the movement gets automated. Without understanding why. So that the master can use that habit in training something very important.

Many times, we cannot explain to the rider or to the horse why they must do the exercise. Or why they must follow a strict order. Just shut up, and follow. And see what happens. In fact, this is the only way to really learn many physical experiences. If you only wish to learn things you can understand beforehand, you will never get onto a new level of understanding.

Of course, this implies that the horse, or the rider completely trusts their instructor/rider. Let me give you some examples of what must be learned by just doing:

- How easy it is to scrub pots and pans if you get the right technique. How do you learn? By just doing it. Every day in a year. Boring, tedious and humiliating. But you learn.
- How strong you become by working out. How to lift a bale of hay most efficiently by lifting thousands of them.
- How to move athletically and with impulsion for a horse. The horse willl by nature walk in the most energy saving way. To carry itself and the rider with more power and elegance, the horse must follow the rider's aids. And not understand. Just listen very carefully. The rider will say this only once. You have no time to tell twice, then the moment is gone. Just like in the jacket on/jacket off sequence.
- How to do a backflip. Can you jump backwards and land on your feet? Can you train it without listening very intently to the instructor and trust his ability to guide you around?
- Can you learn an exercise without listening very carefully to your instructor and do exactly what you are being told? If you wait, argue, hesitate, the moment is gone. You lost the timing. Too bad.

However, we have come to a stage where we are as a culture extremely afraid of the word "obedience". We think it has something to do with creeping. Being afraid. Jumping before a whip. That is slavery or oppression.

Obedience is following without question, because there is trust.

We humans trust because we realize that the teacher is worth following. However, modern people's trust don't often go very far. We have learnt to question. And we are lazy. Whenever it is more convenient to question, we often choose to do something else. We quit. We do it in an easier way. We eat that chocolate, because after all, I am a free citizen and not a slave. We watch the TV instead of training, because we are tired after work, and nobody can force us. That's OK.

But then you never get really good. There is something important you did not learn.

When you ask obedience from your horse, it is not because you wish to be its tyrant. It is because you wish it to be safe. To become strong and agile. To carry you with pride and power. To avoid strain and injuries. To make sure it does not run away into the traffic, or hurts anyone. But in order to get obedience of the sort I am talking about here, you need first to be obedient yourself.

To learn to be precise. To learn to be calm and aware, and not be carried away. To learn to understand the reasons and methods of what you do, so that you don't ask the horse to do something wrong with your precicion. To learn what kind of obedience you can ask right away, before you become precise.

To learn to be obedient yourself. To find the serenity in admitting your faults, to work with them in earnest, to follow the advice of your trainer without excuses, to meticulously follow a training schedule, and to try the best you can to just do exactly what you are told when being instructed. Even though you don't understand why. Every though it seems completely stupid, hard, and perhaps scary. There is something to be learnt at the other end.

It is the same with horses. They need to understand this, or else they will never become really good. If you as a trainer listens too much to the horse and to what the horse wishes to do, you will not get anywhere. As a responsible trainer or rider, you must of course listen to the horse's needs, or else you will not get the trust needed, and nobody wants to be obedient without trust. That is slavery and learned helplessness. And God knows there are many horses that have learned helplessness, trotting helplessly around in endless circles on the forehand without the ability to say "my back hurts!".

As a trainer, you must be able to ask the horse to obediently stop moving in the harmful way, and follow your instructions to the minute detail. Now! Exactly like this! Follow our aids, without guessing, without objecting and without overreacting. Once the horse understands the value of this, you will see a complete change in attitude.

You get a warrior beside you. Someone you can trust to carry you into everything. Because he knows you are right. And you have the right to ask.

Paradox is a pointer telling you to look beyond it. If paradoxes bother you, that betrays your deep desire for absolutes. The relativist treats a paradox merely as interesting, perhaps amusing or even, dreadful thought, educational.

Frank Herbert.

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