Work, this word has a negative association for a lot of people. “Work” has to be “hard”, “long” and involves “no fun” activities. If you are riding your horse or training him, do you refer to it as “work”? And what associations do you have with that word anyway? Think about it.
If Kyra “works” for me, it means that we are doing fun stuff, I invite her to be involved, I ask questions and she is entitled to have “an opinion” about her work. If she “complains”, that is a sign for me to be a better boss. In Dutch you refer to an owner as “boss” as well.
If she says “No” to one of my questions I want to figure out why and what I can do better in order to let her say “Yes”. My associations with the word work are “fun”, “learning” and above all it must be REWARDING in one way or the other.
I am convinced that people transfer their association that they might have with certain words to their horse. What emotions come up if I say: dentist, vet, trick training, trail riding? Are you yelling at the gate to your horse: “Come on the vet is here!” Or: “Come on we are going on a trail ride!”
To me “work” means a lot of good things. I never say about my horse: “That’s her job. She has to do it, because that’s her job.” Kyra didn’t come to me for a job interview. So I am not convinced she wanted to sign up for whatever I have in mind. I have a lot planned in my mind. I am sure she didn’t want to hear about that when she was 11 months old. 😉
Yes, I pay my horse a good salary for doing a good “job”. She is a loyal employee and eager to work for and with me every day. If I give her a day off, she is NOT pleased. She doesn’t want to stay in the pasture when she can be working with me.
My horse does sometimes complain about his job. Often this is when it is hard (walking outside, alone), in which case I try to comfort him a bit, try to make it easier. Or it is because he has to do something boring, walking around with little children on his back or getting brushed by those same children so having to stand absolutely still. He is a bit impatient for these things, but it’s just part of the job as well.
I do think he is over all thinking his “job” is fine, actually enjoying it most of the time. But it is his work, even when he has a moment of displeasement.