ESI Q and A Forums Home
 Search       Members   Calendar   Help   Home 
Search by username
Not logged in - Login | Register 

Too many excuses and not hard enough ?
 Moderated by: DrDeb  
 New Topic   Reply   Print 
AuthorPost
Helen
Guest
 

Joined: 
Location:  
Posts: 
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Thu Jul 19th, 2007 12:23 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Yes, I can understand your logic of undesirable action = undesirable consequences. I just think (though I can't prove it) that in a horse's mind such a punishment it pointless and unconnected to the action. For an electric or barbed fence, the reaction is literally instantaneous. I feel that the so-called 're-action' on our part has little or no effect. Perhaps, if the unwanted action was common enough and the reaction very swift, it might have some impact. But with common misdemeanours such as the occaisional nip, etc, it won't help.

I agree though that it does feel wrong, if by chance you are caught out, and the horse does get away with it, to do nothing. Any thoughts, anyone?

Joe
Member
 

Joined: Mon Apr 16th, 2007
Location: Texas
Posts: 282
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Thu Jul 19th, 2007 02:10 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Sam you ain't:

Here's the problem -- horses do not seem to connect any ex post facto negative consequence withthe action that caused it.  To give a broad example, if a horse breaks away from and runs off and then you catch and punish him, what he learns is that if you catch him, he will be punished.  In setad, you must be calm and pleasant when you catch him -- a major act of self control -- and make being caught agreeable.

I have never been able to satisfy myself as to how long a delay is enough to undo us.  Is it a minute, ten minutes, a few seconds?  All I can say is that the tims seems to be short, and that the response has to be just about simultaneous if it does not precede the action as discussed above.  So, an electric fence works, because every time the beast touches it, at that exact moment, he gets shocked.  I was once on a (naturally shod and worked, no show stuff) TWH stallion who chose to rear for some reason.  By pure conicidence there was an electric fence wire that ran overhead from the charger in the barn our to the fence.  The animal connected  his occipital crest with the wire while rearing, immediately dropped to the ground, and never reared again.

ANyway, I think part of the answer is that our reflexes ae not fast enough to provide a simultaneous response, and that is sub-optimal anyway.

Joe

miriam
Member


Joined: Thu Mar 22nd, 2007
Location: Minnesota USA
Posts: 90
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Thu Jul 19th, 2007 08:37 pm
 Quote  Reply 
One trainer I know said you have 3 seconds, after which it's too late.

As I get better in being early, when things happen and more than three seconds elapses, I return to head twirling, disengaging etc, until softness returns. One lesson this type of approach to horsemanship has taught me (and a good lesson it is too), is to let go of that emotion and return asap to softness. Forgiveness - it's a good thing to practice!

 

Joe
Member
 

Joined: Mon Apr 16th, 2007
Location: Texas
Posts: 282
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Thu Jul 19th, 2007 09:46 pm
 Quote  Reply 
As in many things, emotion is the enemy of judgment.

Joe

Pam
Member


Joined: Wed Mar 21st, 2007
Location: Lafayette, California USA
Posts: 146
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Thu Jul 19th, 2007 10:41 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Helen - I agree with you that a nip is just a misdemeanor.  I am aware that you have to do a correction in between the thought and the action and that is why I don't smack my horse for a nip.  It is pointless to him.  Because I am who I am and still learning so much about horses I figure I should just let it go until I have a better solution.   I have on occasion smacked my horse for a nip and only out of peer group pressure (I think Dr. Deb mentioned this earlier in the thread) not because I believed it to be effective. And guess what, it didn't cure him of his desire to occasionally nip at me.  Sometimes the pressure from other people can be a bit much and I can succumb to it.   And as lots of people think, which is not true, I am not worried about hurting my horses feelings or that he won't like me anymore.  I am concerned about being effective.  When I do something I want it to count, otherwise I am just like background noise to my horse.   I want him to understand in his own horsey way.   Call me a dreamer....

This has been a most enjoyable thread. Thanks for getting it going, Sam.  Everybody has been so good! 

Thanks,

Pam

Last edited on Thu Jul 19th, 2007 10:42 pm by Pam

Julie
Member
 

Joined: Mon Jul 2nd, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 56
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Fri Jul 20th, 2007 12:43 am
 Quote  Reply 
Hi all this is a fantastic thread full of info and help for all of us even if only used to ask ourselves some questions.

I hope an not speaking out of turn here but here in NZ I saw Dr Deb show us how to deal with a horse that was reluctant to be held and trying to nip ears back. She held her hand in that horses mouth till the horse realized there was no use trying to nip the hand was there with pressure and horse not able to bite like that so horse stopped trying.

I see Sam aints view of a person attempt to be safe by having respect from their horse (enough respect that they wouldnt nip in the first place but if they did and they did not see it coming there would  be some response from the affected person or horse) May be in the way Dr Deb showed us as above or as previously suggested head twirling or movement in some way.

Thanks for the good reading Cathie Julie 

Kallisti
Member


Joined: Sat Jun 2nd, 2007
Location: Tāhuna / Glenorchy, New Zealand
Posts: 40
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Fri Jul 20th, 2007 11:40 am
 Quote  Reply 
Hi All,

I'd like to give this one another go: advanced warning, been in 'head' space all day, no horsey(s) till tomorrow (city girl).

We have a phycologist friend who's a lot of fun to talk with. Recently, he discussed with us something called a 'nominalism', a trick of language if you will.

A nominalism occurs when you use a 'doing' word in a past tense, or make it absolute, a thing. The best example I can give you in the english language is the one he gave me: a waterfall. In some cultures, there is no such word as 'waterfall', instead, the word roughly translates to 'waterfalling'. So a nominalism is when we take a doing word and make it absolute, or a thing.

Without bogging everyone down further in definitions, (unless asked) can I pose the following question to you all. It's not loaded, I'd like to hear what you all think :)

In discussing 'the nip' are we making a fatal mistake of moving out of the present? What I mean is, perhaps the answer to whether or not to slap/retaliate could be answered so that everyone's answering right...thus:

If the horse is 'nipping', then a slap is appropriate.
'Nipping' implies either that you've caught it between the thought and the act as suggested, or Sam I ain't could be right also. 'Nipping' may also be when the nip has occured, but the horse is still in the space of nipping, i.e. the behaviour is continuing, he hasn't 'dropped it'.

If the horse has 'nipped', then a slap is inappropriate
'Nipped' could be after he's actually nipped and 'dropped it', or after he stopped thinking about nipping.

I'm hoping this brings us back to context - and keeps discussions in the present, as opposed to the past tense. We're all expousing the validity of 'being present' with our horses, yet we're not 'being present' with our discussing (yep, that's one right there).

Keeping present, or should I say present-ing,

[ FWIW this arose during some training - it's useful to use the 'ing' tense in negotiating. It's not a 'negotiation', which implies a fixed reality, it's 'negotiating', which implies much more flexibility in working towards outcomes/outcoming ;)]

Pauline Moore
Member
 

Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
Location: Crows Nest, Australia
Posts: 273
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Fri Jul 20th, 2007 12:57 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Thank 'ee kindly, Joe, for the feedback - it's always nice to know something has worked.

There are many readers of this forum who are better qualified than I to describe the nuts & bolts of how to relate to horses so they do not want to kick, bite, nip or barge over their owners, all these behaviours have the same origin and the same solution.  It is only in the last couple of years that I have discovered this new way of handling horses so have all the enthusiasm of the newly converted, but wish I had known this 20 years ago.  I can only speak of what works for me and hope that those more experienced will chip in to fill in the gaps that I will inevitably leave.

Over recent years I have several times heard Dr Deb speak of horses needing to 'know where it would be OK for them to stand' - heard the words but did not grasp their full meaning until I started experimenting with roundpen style work, which was something completely foreign to my English heritage.  In this country I had seen demos by the Queen's Cowboy, the orange-stick Man and local look-alikes, all of which seemed to me to be bullying the horse so I dismissed  such people as of no interest.  My best teacher has been my old thoroughbred who died late last year.  He was one of those strong-minded geldings who could control an entire herd with barely the flick of an ear and in the 14 years he was with me, I never saw him touch another horse, but he was the undisputed leader wherever he went.   I spent hours watching this old horse casually but confidently push other horses away from their hay piles, allowing them only a moment or two at each pile before he would again move them on.  There was no fuss, no threats, no arguments - he gave the impression that it had simly never occured to him that any horse would challenge him, so they didn't, life was very peaceful for every horse when he was in charge. 

Three years ago I acquired a young colt, and when he got to around 2 yrs old started ignoring me during the English-style groundwork we had been doing easily for quite a while, his attention everywhere but with me.  I had done a fair bit of starting young horses previously so was surprised by this and realized that he was only going to get bigger and stronger, while I would not.  I well remember the day when his front feet started to lift off the ground, and he tried to dash away from me.  I decided there and then that I had to change my approach completely.   I had an old cattleyard to work in, so I took off all his gear and copied the mannerisms of the old TB.  Totally ignoring the colt, I wandered about the yard busying myself with picking up stones, then I started shooing him away with a doubled-over lead rope swinging vaguely in the direction of his tail as I especially wanted the stones beneath his feet.    This went on for a good 1/2 hr - overkill for sure, I really didn't have a clue what I was doing, but he certainly became very interested in what I was doing.  At that point I started asking him to trot around the yard, frequently changing direction, and kept him at it with my eyes never leaving him until I felt I had his undivided attention.  Once I had that, I stopped everything, looked away from him, then casually walked up to him and made a huge fuss of him, spending a long time just stroking and scratching him.  He was a totally different young horse, standing perfectly still beside me, completely relaxed in every way, uninterested in all the distractions around us.

That day was such a revelation to me, I could hardly believe the power of what had just happened.  You'll all be relieved to know my technique has improved a lot since those first fumbling efforts so now it takes only a couple of minutes, if that, to ask for and receive the full attention of any horse I'm with.  Once that has been achieved, all question of biting or kicking just disappears - the horses are so relaxed they look almost sleepy, the ears are floppy and lower lip droops, they exude contentment and trust, staying with me although there is no restraint to keep them there.

With my own horses, this is the starting point for every session we have together, no matter what I have in mind to do later - if I cannot get and keep their attention while on the ground, there's little chance of doing so from the saddle.  The colt is now rising 4, still entire, and a joy to have around.  He's lost none of the cheeky exuberance that sparkled from his eyes the first time I saw him, but there is no possibility of him biting or kicking.  I've used this method with some of my client's horses also; last year I told the story of the wily old TB gelding who for years had been sedated by farriers in order to trim his back feet, no amount of threatening or hitting stopping him from kicking violently.  It took less than 5 minutes to gain the trust of this horse as described above, he then stood quietly relaxed, untied, while his back feet were easily trimmed.

I believe that this is what Dr Deb meant by a horse wanting to know where he can stand (but I hope she will correct me if I am wrong) - as I see it, the horse finds comfort, safety and contentment in being close to a person (or another horse) who acts as though they are in charge, it's as though all the worry of responsibility for their own safety has been shouldered by someone else.  I think that horses who scrap with each other over hierarchy, or with us by nipping, shoving or kicking, are not entirely sure of their safety,  feel quite anxious about life as they are just not completely sure of their position or role in the herd.  This was the gift of my old TB, showing me how to take on the posture of quiet confidence that horses can recognize as a source of security, and I still miss him greatly.

Clarifying our relationship with our horses so they are clear on exactly what their position is, has a domino effect throughout the entire herd, but it's getting late on a Friday night so I'll save that story for another day.

Best wishes to all - Pauline

Last edited on Fri Jul 20th, 2007 01:13 pm by Pauline Moore

Joe
Member
 

Joined: Mon Apr 16th, 2007
Location: Texas
Posts: 282
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Fri Jul 20th, 2007 02:42 pm
 Quote  Reply 
I hope DD WILL weigh in if we are going astray, but your latest post helped clarify some things for me.  I think you are much further along that I on the thought/ practice that I expressed above about projecting calm confidence and control. Let me express the same in human terms if possible:

Much of my professional practice in business life has been to turnaround or "fix" businesses that are not performing to the owner's satisfction.  Honestly, there is no possible way for one person to do this -- it takes a team; a motivated team, and the team is going to be made up of the people who are already working there.  A good part of what I do is to "project" (for lack of a better word) calmness, confidence, and "being in chargeness."  People respond to this with a great boost in morale which in a team setting in like the difference between being in the dark and turning the lights on.  It does not involve yelling at people or bullying or anything of the sort.  It is "presence," confidence, calm, and as I said before, the projected certainty that someone is in charge.

This, when projected in a way that horses understand is what I think you are saying.  Without going into war stories, I can say that although not as far along as you by a long shot, I have found this to be true.  I'd say that the horses understand what I project to them, but my projection is kind of crude and inefficient, if that makes sense.  I think the trick is to learn more about how to read them, and how they best read us.

Sam
Member
 

Joined: Tue Jun 12th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 149
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Sat Jul 21st, 2007 08:30 am
 Quote  Reply 
Hi, Sam I ain't again, and yes this is an intersting thread.

It does seem through reading the replys that there are 3 different owner groups here.

The "professional" owner that has as Joe says has "presence, confidence, and is calm and projects certainty that someone is in charge. Pauline wrote about her old TB horse ".  There was no fuss, no threats, no arguments - he gave the impression that it had simly never occured to him that any horse would challenge him, so they didn't, life was very peaceful for every horse when he was in charge. Should every horse owner not aspire to have that manner, that status, be that leader ?

Pauline also wrote " as I see it, the horse finds comfort, safety and contentment in being close to a person (or another horse) who acts as though they are in charge, it's as though all the worry of responsibility for their own safety has been shouldered by someone else. Can't argue with that either, all makes sense to me. I bet most professional owners and trainers  don't have horses that bite and kick etc, for they have the experience, dedication, will and nounce  to know how to lead and be around horse.

Clearly though, there IS another type of owner that are NOT leaders. The 'Dominated". Pauline again wrote Clarifying our relationship with our horses so they are clear on exactly what their position is, has a domino effect throughout the entire herd.  Can't argue with that.  Pauline also wrote "I think that horses who scrap with each other over hierarchy, or with us by nipping, shoving or kicking, are not entirely sure of their safety,  feel quite anxious about life as they are just not completely sure of their position or role in the herd.  Sure I say, but not the last bit. Its perhaps not their lack of position or role with-in the herd but with-in their human interactions. The lack of experience and desire or perhaps the too easy and "soft" going nature of this type of owner could easily result in a horse that misbehaves, not the horses fault, it has no leader.

There is a third group, "The Wooly Woofters" who own horses because they're just "Big cute cuddly teddybears" They can own bad mannered horses with little respect  and more vices and its the  horse that is the leader.

To you horse owners in the first group I salute you, I've seen in person and on videos, owners like you, and your magical to watch and your horses are indeed lucky.

 Those in the last group with no aspirations to lead should give up ownership and buy a cat.

Those in the 2nd group should do all you can to improve your knowledge and skill and realise you must lead with clear leadership and be the Alpha horse. That way you'll teach your horse not to bite and I won't have to get all primitive and smack/whack him for doing it.

Just to finish, Kallisti wrote "If the horse has 'nipped', then a slap is inappropriate
'Nipped' could be after he's actually nipped and 'dropped it', or after he stopped thinking about nipping.

It will come as no surprise to any of you that I DO NOT agree with that. We do not know for sure how long is too long. The next day is too long, but who's to say how long they think about what they have done ? Can you say definitively ? If it  took me 2 seconds to react to his bite than thats how long it took. Hard luck. He did'nt bite again, it worked. It might be 6 months before I touch a horse again, it might be tomorrow. If his owner has'nt shown leadership, has'nt shown domination and got on top of what he's not allowed to do and I get nipped again, I'll dominate and correct as before. At the end of the day, its up to you Gals and Guys to do a better job and produce safer horses for you and non horsey people like me, to be around, simple !

Thank you for the opportunity to respond.

Joe Sullivan
Guest
 

Joined: 
Location:  
Posts: 
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Sat Jul 21st, 2007 02:07 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Sam:

The kinds of owners you mention do exist, but the universe of owners is more complicated than that.  Not to go into too much detail and hijack that thread, but there are plenty of professional trainers with whom no one should leave a horse, and plenty of amateurs who control their animals as described.

As to timing, I kind of fall in the middle on this argument, but leaning heavily towards Pauline.  I have seen a sharp snap on the halter have very good effect, and think I have seen the occasional good slap work, usually with an abrupt, harsh word (not necessarily unprintable --could just be HO!).  However, there is just no doubt in my mind that anticipation and cutting off or making the undesirable behavior hard for the animal is far better. 

Sappiness about horses is rampant.  My theory on that, in brief, is that few people actually live with the beasts anymore and know them AS ANIMALS.  Rather, they know them as horsie-in-a-box, a pretty utility vehicle that is brought out of a stall for them for an hour or two when they feel like riding.  If you don't really know the beastie, you can easily project lots of nonsense onto him that is rooted only in your fertile and romantic imagination, including above all, anthropomorphisation.

Pauline Moore
Member
 

Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
Location: Crows Nest, Australia
Posts: 273
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Sun Jul 22nd, 2007 01:40 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Second Sam queried the comment I made about our relationship with the horse having an effect on the role of that horse within the herd, so I need to tell part 2 of my story to explain what I mean.  This will take a while so anyone who is already bored with my ramblings might want to skip to the next thread.

If the events with my colt as a 2 yr old was an eye-opener, then the orientation of my learning curve rocketed to straight vertical with the arrival of the colt's sire a few months later.  I was not looking for and did not need another horse, but as soon as I saw the ad for the colt's Dad, the decision was made that he must join us - pure emotion and no logic but I have never regretted the choice.  To make matters worse, this 8 yr old was unbroken & unsocialised - like most breeding stallions he had been isolated since yearling age - and I had the crazy idea that he should learn to live with my 2 TB geldings and his own colt.    The story of his integration kept my friends riveted to their Inboxes for weeks, but as part of that process in the first few days, I would lead each of the geldings up to the rails of the yard that housed the stallion.    The younger TB who is still with me, was certainly intimidated and not at all keen to approach the yard.  The old horse I referred to in the previous post was extraordinary in his reaction, or lack of it, I should say.  On one side of the rails was the stallion doing his best to be threatening - up on his hind legs, striking, trumpeting, charging at the rails (I might have admired the performance if my knees weren't shaking so much...), on the other side of the rails, only an inch out of touching distance, stood the old TB with one hind leg resting, looking utterly bored.  He did not for one second even acknowledge the existence of the stallion, just gazed straight through him.  After 2 days of this, the stallion gave up trying to impress the old horse, and instead became very interested in him.  To cut a long story short, there was no difficulty at all in having the stallion live with the 2 geldings, the old TB was still very much in control.  Different story with the colt however, his brazen cheekiness was breathtaking.  In the first few moments of their being together in the same paddock (despite all my admonishments that he should just stand still and allow Dad to sniff him all over) Superbrat initiated a boxing/shoving match whilst still chewing the large wad of hay that was hanging out of his mouth both sides.  Next came the 'chasie' game in a large circle around the 2 geldings who were more interested in their hay - he'd kick out at the stallion, then gallop off, after a couple of laps he would dive in between the geldings for protection and a breather, then dash out and start the whole thing again - had never had such fun in his life.  It took the stallion nearly a week to isolate the colt and banish him to exile at the other end of the paddock - now he was left with the dilemma of how to take the leadership of this little herd from the old TB but still stay friends with him, spending his days trailing after the geldings, tolerated but not fully accepted.

There was no real change for the next 2 months - the old TB was still in charge and the colt was still in disgrace, and I was beginning to despair that he would ever be accepted back and that I would have to abandon any thoughts of having them all live together.  During this time, I had done very little with the stallion beyond routine feeding, hoofcare etc - I was still unsure of myself and him and gave priority to having them all integrated, so I now thought I might as well get on with doing something with him, nothing was changing in the paddock.    Over the next couple of weeks I cautiously tried a few different approaches with the stallion, finally doing almost exactly as I had with the colt some months before and was very happy to find that day for the first time an almost identical response despite his entirely different nature - his focus was with me completely and he became very soft and relaxed.    This is a day I will never forget as on that same day, just 2 hours later, the stallion calmly and confidently took possession of the old TB's pile of hay - the leadership had changed and everyone was happy, no fuss, no arguments etc, and within 2 days the colt was accepted back into the herd.

I am still stunned to think that resolving my relationship with the stallion was the key to all 4 of them being able to live harmoniously.  I had no idea that certainty of role was so important for them, and that without that their own relationships could not be fully settled.  It gives me a great deal of pleasure to think of my beautiful old TB being looked-after by a devoted and protective stallion for the last year of his life.  The colt and the stallion are now good mates, sharing the friendship of the other gelding - it is such a privilege to be able to watch how they interact, learn from it, and use it to help me communicate with all horses.

Sorry this has been so long, but in summary I think it is exactly as you said, Joe, the more we can learn to read them and understand how they read us, the better the chance that we can enjoy everything horses have to offer with complete safety, for ourselves and others, and the less chance that horses will be abused for behaving in a way that is natural for them but misunderstood by us.  We speak of intercepting between the thought and the action - but is it not even better to ensure the horse never has need for the thought?

Best wishes - Pauline

 

Marion
Member
 

Joined: Wed May 16th, 2007
Location: Canberra, Australia
Posts: 9
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Mon Jul 23rd, 2007 02:45 am
 Quote  Reply 
Hi Pauline, 

I really liked your post.  I too, have a young colt.  Your story is both good reading and informative for me.  The socialisation of colts/stallions and their relationship with their handlers is something that I am starting to explore.  I'm careful to care, but not treat him as a pet.

Thanks for your story,

Marion.



 


Sam
Member
 

Joined: Tue Jun 12th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 149
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Mon Jul 23rd, 2007 03:04 am
 Quote  Reply 
Hi Pauline

Believe me, from a now non horsey person, I enjoyed your response.

However, and you might have guessed this would happen, I'm not 100% convinced your observations were totally correct. You wrote "his focus was with me completely and he became very soft and relaxed.    This is a day I will never forget as on that same day, just 2 hours later, the stallion calmly and confidently took possession of the old TB's pile of hay - the leadership had changed and everyone was happy, no fuss, no arguments etc, and within 2 days the colt was accepted back into the herd.

You could not and would not have seen ALL that happened between your horses prior to the stallion finally taking control, There are 24 hours hours in a day, 12 of which you'd would'nt know what was happening and 12 during the day when you may happen to see something. If the TB and stallion did have a time of reckoning, this may have lasted just afew seconds which you would have had little chance in a 24 hour day of witnessing. Sorry to be the one that spoils a great story, but there is another less magical and idyllic reason  for what happened.

You also wrote Pauline "and the less chance that horses will be abused for behaving in a way that is natural for them but misunderstood by us.  We speak of intercepting  between the thought and the action - but is it not even better to ensure the horse never has need for the thought?

Are you not just making excuses for horses here ? Are you saying if they do something wrong blame the human, as whatever it was they did , it is something natural to them and we should have understood it, we'll yea, thinking about it your right. The horse wants you to move so naturally he might ask you to move then kick you or bite you too tell you too move and its us, the humans fault for misinderstanding his natural behaviour and receiving the kick or bite. YEA RIGHT !,  He should respect you enough not to do it in the first place.

I except some people abuse horses, what I do not accept is an isolated slap or a whack being defined as abuse.

Horses naturaly do this and naturaly do that so thats their excuse ? Horses live in our world which is not natual to a horse but they have adapted over the centuries to it. How natural is it for a horse to have a rider on its back or to pull a cart, or be put in a horse float or have metal bits nailed to its feet ? Domesticated horses live by our rules so why cloud some of our rules by adopting theirs ?

Appreciate the opportunity to respond


Pauline Moore
Member
 

Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
Location: Crows Nest, Australia
Posts: 273
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Mon Jul 23rd, 2007 12:32 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Right on cue, Sam #2 - I knew someone would tell me I'm dreaming but just before you write me off as another of the 'woolly woofter' brigade, I'll have to tell you how I know the stallion and the old TB had not exchanged roles before that day - I was trying to keep it short, believe it or not.

For those first few weeks of the stallion's presence in the paddock, one way (amongst many) for the old TB to reinforce his authority was to deny the stallion any contact with the other gelding (he's my friend, you stay away from him).  Any time there was any activity in the paddock, even me just going in there to do some chores that took me close to where the horses were grazing, the stallion would become anxious and start to dance around the geldings, nothing threatening to them or me, but clearly upset.  Whenever this happened, the old TB responded by placing himself between the stallion and the other gelding until everything had settled down again.  On 'That Day' I referred to above, this same charade was played out when I went to fetch the stallion early afternoon, so I know up to that point there had definitely been no change in the hierarchy.  Sure, 'something' else could have happened within the next 2 hours that I did not see, but if it did, it was still after my session with the stallion.  From that time on, there was no more anxiety behaviour from the stallion when anything was going on in the paddock, and no more preventing access to the other gelding by the old TB.   To a less dramatic degree, this same sequence is repeated with every horse whenever I take this approach, they all become extremely relaxed, the eyes are soft, sleepy looking, completely content, motionless.  There have been no exceptions, either with my own horses or with others I have never previously met, and I'm still learning - anyone can do this.

I did not say that an isolated whack is abuse (I was speaking in general terms, not thinking of you or anyone else specifically).  I've done it myself and much as I would hope I never do that again, no-one can be certain what they will or won't do until the situation actually ocurrs, so I don't judge or condemn anyone for using force, just think there is a better way.   I thought I had already stated clearly that I do not ever think it acceptable for any horse of any age, breed or gender to nip, bite, kick or shove their handler, even though that is part of the interaction between themselves.  When horses bite or kick each other, it is after a warning or a series of warnings have been given, but we may not have seen or understood those warnings, no different to a dog growling a warning before a bite, except that horses can't growl.  I also do not think it acceptable for a horse to be giving us a warning or a dog to growl at us, but that doesn't mean I want my horses or my dogs to behave with a rigid robotic compliance because they are scared to do anything else. 

We all have a choice how we go about dealing with issues like safety around animals but we have to understand that with each choice there is a consequence.   Woolly woofters might well find themselves with a few injuries here and there that they hadn't reckoned on.  Others who prefer to use an occasional slap or whack should keep their fingers crossed that they never are tempted to use that method on a horse like the Arab stallion that Joe told us about - it would have taken a great deal of skill for Joe to save that situation with no-one getting killed. 

There are other consequences also.  For those who think of a horse as a sort of furry motorbike substitute, then an expressionless machine-like obedience is probably exactly what they want.  Those who want to see the artistry and magnificence that is hiding inside every horse, will choose a training method that does not supress any of their natural joy of life.

When I watch the 2 stallions at play,  my greatest ambition is attempting to replicate from the saddle even a tiny fraction of their spontaneous beauty - might never get there, but it's a lot of fun trying.    We all have a choice to make.

Best wishes - Pauline


 Current time is 11:24 am
Page:  First Page Previous Page  1  2  3  4  5  Next Page Last Page  




Powered by WowBB 1.7 - Copyright © 2003-2006 Aycan Gulez