……Although knowing that we generally use aversives to stimulate responses in horses, this does not necessarily have to be negative, or a harmful experience. However, it may be beneficial to bear in mind the added effect which our agonistic intention may have in the learning/relational process.
We may consider other interesting ways in which horses resolve their encounters. Borrowing from the inference of individual recognition, there are also affiliative behaviors’ to consider in social relationships, be it interspecific or intraspecific. Text books or published studies have focused mainly on agonistic encounters, and how social species organize themselves through dominance hierarchies. Few texts actually mention affiliative behaviours’ such as those creating bonds and ties between individuals. Many social species live in breeding units, or families, and have more behaviours’ that strengthen bonds than those that weaken them, but little attention has been given to this category of behaviour.
Familiarity, friendship, trust or confidence are words currently in use in the horse world, albeit more so in the natural horsemanship world. The same people that use obedience and respect freely are terrified to use the word friendship or confidence, silly isn`t it?
The barrage of critique received by round penning methods may be useful in underlying some of the limitations imposed by different ways of thinking and relating to horses. Heavy critique has also fallen on Equine Sports in general, mainly by Natural horsemanship movements, so I can only hope this is not just some infantile retaliation.
The round pen is a very useful space, as is any other space.