To “Break” or “Start” – Does it Matter?

We used to use the term “break a horse” when it was time for a horse to be ridden. Break a horse meant that the horse learned to be ridden with a saddle.

Now the term is “start a horse”. Start a horse means that the horse is “started” under saddle: the horse learns to accept a rider and learns basic riding “etiquette”.

One might think there isn’t much of a difference or it doesn’t make a difference whether you say “break” or “start”. It matters. Words still matter.

 Words have the power to excite, inspire, elate, sadden, frighten, anger or give hope.

The definition of break is to separate or cause to separate into pieces as a result of a blow, shock, or strain. Does anyone want to be broken? Would anyone aspire to be the recipient of a blow, a shock, or a strain?

If you think about it, why would anyone want to shock or strain an animal?

Breaking a horse was not a term that was used or used once in a while. It’s a term that was used over and over again. It became normalized. Everyone used the term, probably with little thought about the consequences to the horse or human.

If the process to be under saddle starts with the violence of a blow or shock, how can it ever become positive to the horse? How can the horse and rider have a positive experience when it starts violently?

Words may not matter as much as we think they should. But words still matter. There is a huge difference between breaking a horse and starting a horse. What words make a difference in your life?

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