This technique creates a bond of trust and harmony with the animal. Rational Dressage is a taming system that is used to achieve the horse’s meekness and acceptance of the rider through non-coercive methods.
The technique was developed through historical study of how the native peoples interacted with horses and their living and work environment. As a result, there has been a resurgence of these methods in the equestrian community that recognize the horse as an especially sensitive living being: “a faithful mirror of human intentions and emotions.” In nature, horses are herd animals and they instinctively seek a leader.
Rational Dressage takes advantage this proclivity for social hierarchy and seeks to gain the trust of the animal such that the tamer becomes the horse’s guide or leader. Through rational dressage, one can also gain knowledge about how a horse think and acts.
Rational taming methods involve unmounted work, where the tamer is below the animal. Mounting occurs only after enough meekness is achieved, to the point where the horse perceives mounting as an act of friendship. We refer to this as “binomial bonding” where two different beings merge to form a single functional entity. Violence and force are never used and it is prohibited to touch the animal other than in a friendly peaceful manner. To extend the tamer’s reach we use a stick and cloth, this simulates the a human’s arm and allows us to tap or “tickle” the animal in a gentle fashion.
The whole philosophy is contrary to that of the traditional horse breaking techniques used by the Huasos or Gauchos, where they would insert a bit in the horse’s mouth, and coerce the horse by pulling on the
bit, or starve and whip the horse in a palenque. This makes the disposition of the animal fearful, and if fear underlies the relationship between horse and rider, the horse is less safe to ride.
Therefore, at Horseback Patagonia we use rational dressage techniques on all of our horses, which gives them confident and tranquil dispositions that they will pass on to our guests.