I’ve heard that so often. In the cafe’, others at a table talking about a colt or a pony another has for sale. At the feed store, looking at flyers on the bulletin board… over and over, the idea of “breaking” a horse remains the standard description of a mount brought into utilitarian service through a process of demeaning and deleting his own sense of self preservation and self worth. Of course, I live in the southwestern USA and old habits die hard here. So do old expressions.
I use terms like “gentle” (I gentled him myself), “schooled”, brought him along, started under saddle – I have a list of less aggressive and less demoralizing labels. But… broken can be the more accurate definition of what some humans have done to some horses. It is even descriptive of what some people do to other people. Where does this need for subjugation come from!?
I really believe it is ego based and fueled by fear. If one is attracted to the idea of subduing a 1200 pound, flight based animal, one might just have a rude awakening with the initial encounter. The person who steps into horsemanship to “master the beast” will be shocked by the independent, noble, quick moving equine whose true nature is cooperation and curiosity. This person will feel frightened by the extensive wisdom, almost telepathic insight and soul shaking beauty of the horse.
That fear will challenge one and the deep insecurities that rise to the surface will either bring a change of focus – to see through different eyes – or will create a monster determined to extinguish the light shining before him. Ego feels threatened by anything it cannot understand, control or dismiss.
When I overhear a conversation or read a flyer and wonder about the “broke” status proclaimed for an equine… I have to wonder whose job it will become to eventually “fix” the horse… so often, on a small scale, it has been mine.