We’ve been made to believe that we need to be higher in the pecking order which means we use body language to move the horse out of our space the same way a dominant horse moves his mate away from the feed bin.
When there are more than two horses at feed time, the second horse will challenge the third horse and so on. If you buy a mare to include into your herd, she will challenge your horses to be higher in the pecking order and this is not what a true lead mare is all about.
A true lead mare in the wild never leaves the herd, she starts off as a filly, comes up through the ranks until she eventually becomes lead mare by leadership and respect rather than by dominance. Horses prefer to rather be with a calm, easy-going, non-aggressive horse rather than the dominant horse in the paddock.
Similar to any hierarchal system, a good teacher does not intimidate their students but rather inspires them. Oppositely, aggression breeds resentment. If you watch a true alpha mare, she is never aggressive and there is no kicking, biting or ears back. Instead she peacefully leads by example. When she decides to move to another spot in the paddock she wanders off, her foal will follow and the rest of the herd will follow her, too with no resistance.
The premise of John’s teaching comes from this same structure. His 10 Steps never make the horse fearful. Fear is the biggest inhibitor of learning and because of the trust with the horse and the lack of flight response there is no adrenaline in any of the lessons.
There is no force, no fear and no danger of injury. A calm horse can learn; a frightened horse can’t learn