I was in a situation this week where I was asked to help out with a horse that wasn't doing what it was being asked to do. The request was reasonable and being made in a calm way. The interesting thing to me was that the instant the horse didn't comply, the time factor kicked in, and the stakes were raised. The situation escalated. My only contribution to the situation was to suggest that the request be made in a different way. One the horse might accept more easily.
It worked. I felt good seeing what I considered a success. The horseowner's response was this:
"You can't let them win these little battles."
This jolted when I heard it, even though I suspect I've said the same thing myself in the past. But hearing it this week I realized I no longer see my encounters with my horses as a series of battles I must make sure to win. Rather, I see my encounters with my horses as opportunities to have a conversation, to make a connection, and to find places where both I and the horse can be calm and happy.
It's interesting to encounter other people and their horses. It teaches us a lot about ourselves.