Many years ago, while I was in high school, I worked with a horse trainer out west. Before she became a full-time trainer, Sandy was a flight attendant for a now-defunct airline, and I was a teenage boy, so of course I fantasized about her endlessly. She taught me many things (get your mind out of the gutter!), and one thing that I learned was about how to teach a horse to board a trailer. I’m sure you’ve seen horse trailers towed behind trucks, hauling horses from barn to show and other places, right? Well, they are narrow, tight boxes, and horses like to be where they have room to run, so convincing a horse that they should walk up a ramp and into an enclosed trailer can be a challenge.
Sandy explained to me that if you needed quick results–perhaps you had to trailer the horse in just a day or two–you had no choice. In that case, you had to take a direct approach, using tools such as a partner horse to help demonstrate the trailer was safe, a bit of fear and intimidation, lots of repetition, and a certain amount of brute force. It took a lot of work, and it wasn’t easy on either the trainer or the horse, and at best the horse would eventually learn to tolerate the loading process. And some horses never learned to load successfully–every attempt would mean a fight.
However, if you had a couple weeks, or better still, a couple months, there was a much easier way. Simply haul the trailer out into the middle of the field and leave it there for a few days so that the horse could get used to being around it. Then, put a pail of grain in the back of the trailer each night. After a few days of smelling the grain and edging closer and closer to try to reach it, the horse would eventually walk up the ramp itself to eat. Keep the process up for a few more days, and after that, the horse would be eager to board the trailer to look for a snack whenever it had a chance. When you needed to take the horse to a show, getting it into the trailer was not a problem.
Horses are not the same as people, and I don’t intend to equate teaching/learning the fine art of submission to trailoring a horse. However, I think there is a valuable principle here that can be applied to Dominance and submission, and it’s one I espouse frequently.
The slow and easy approach to teaching your partner the ways of BDSM is always best. And if you have a reward at the end of each adventure–a tingle of excitement, a rush of pleasure, a feeling of closeness, a warm and comfortable snuggle–that helps as well. It’s often tempting to want to go too fast–you have a goal you want to reach, or an activity you want to do, and you don’t want to wait! But forcing things even a little bit generally leads to fear and mistrust, and forcing things more than a little triggers safe words and ejecting from the scene. You and your partner have plenty of time together, and there’s no reason to rush!
If you go slow and easy, take things one step at a time, and continue to build the feeling of trust between you and your partner, you’ll find you can eventually lead them into even the darkest and narrowest places, and they’ll go there happily…joyfully. They know they’ll find excitement and fun and pleasure with you, and that they can trust you to keep them safe and whole. In the end, a slow and gentle approach will take you much farther than you’ll ever get going fast and furious. So learn a lesson from Sandy–I know I did!