The opinions expressed in previous entries may or may not express the current opinion of the author.

Monday, July 26, 2010

More Musings on Dominance

To the woman he said, "I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you. (Genesis 3:16)
This "curse" - relegating the woman to a subjugated position under the male, longing for him, yet oppressed by him - I always pondered in terms only of how it affects humans. Yet now I think it applies to all creatures.  And what creature comes to mind?  The horse of course.

The effects of God's "punishment" (which of course isn't a punishment at all but simply the inevitable result of man doing what God had warned against, which is why he warned them in the first place) are not sinful in themselves.  It is not sinful to be sick, for example, although it results from a disruption of the natural order. Many effects are an unfortunate, if arguably necessary, adjustment to post-fall conditions - meat eating, for example.  And the dominance of the male over the family group - "he shall rule over you."

Do I want to take for my role model the stallion - the oppressive male - who may protect the herd - but who is filling a role made necessary by the collapse of true virtue?

Take Chloe, for instance.  Chloe hates being bossed around.  But I really don't think she enjoys being dominated by a horse any more than by a human.  The only preferable thing about being bossed around by another horse is that its orders come in short, sharp bursts, followed by long periods of non-interference.  Sometimes I think Chloe would even rather go and face the wolf alone than suffer being pushed around by another horse or a human.

Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling (who has me enthralled and dazzled, as you may have noticed) talks a lot about obtaining "submission" from the horse. I don't really know what I think about this vis a vis the great KFH, but here's a provisional thought:

His horses seem genuinely contented, focused, relaxed, and interested.  He says he is achieving this by his non-violent "dominance" techniques. What if that were not the case? What if the horses were just being really nice to him because, as well as being consistent and fair, he sincerely tries to be nice to them? What if the part of his method which is most effective is not the one he believes is most effective?

Klaus is dazzled by the stallion's charisma the way I am dazzled by Klaus:
Anyone who has ever encountered a truly dominant stallion or mare is impressed above all by that creature's incredible presence and the force of its personality.  There is such power, such dignity, that hardly anyone would dare to question such a being. (Dancing with Horses, p. 32)
(I think the "or mare" is in there only as a superficial nod to evenhandedness.)

"Your desire shall be for your husband" ..... we witness the male's charisma, power, and presence - we (even men) desire it. We incline toward it with a longing which should properly be directed only toward God. It is right to love it; to be subservient to it is to acquiesce in our own downfall.

I've quoted this before, but I'll quote it again:
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. (Isaiah 11:6)
In this weird path I'm on, a path I've been almost tricked into following, I have to try to emulate not the stallion but the "little child."  How does this work?  When I figure it out, I'll tell you.


  1. June, I am just catching up on your last few posts, which make fascinating reading. I can so relate to your experience with your friend. Having set rules and boundaries may seem to make interactions with horses safe, but take away totally from the reality of the interaction in the present moment.

    I also love Dancing with Horses, and have wondered about Klaus's emphasis on dominance. The closest I came to understanding it was to think of him as quite male in his outlook whereas Imke Spilker for me has a more inclusive, less linear, more female (?) approach.

  2. I think his emphasis on dominance is to some extent a filter, allowing him to make sense of what's going on.

    Today the "reality of the interaction in the present moment" consisted of the horses being just kind of annoying and uncooperative and even downright bratty (except Chloe of course!). And I did sort of say to myself what you're saying, Maire - this is how it goes today, so go with it.

    The maleness thing, too, makes sense.