Monday, February 22, 2010

Conversation with the Enemy

Well not exactly the enemy, this woman happens to be a friend of mine who generally is a 'good person' but our views on horses couldn't be more different. I try and avoid the topic of horses when we are together but since we both have them it can get a bit tricky.

I happened to see her over the weekend and almost every thing she says I disagree with. Doesn't make for an easy friendship that's for sure. Bear in mind though that I used to look up to her as a horsewoman so she is quite accustomed to me drinking in all her words of wisdom. Oh my how things have changed over the last few years.

A lot of her attitudes are everything that I think is wrong with a lot of the horse world. Again, at the very low end of the scale but I still find it incredibly hard not to rip her head off.

1. I am too attached to my horse. Sure, I will concede that maybe I am a bit, but her attitude to Fox is that I should just sell him. Over my dead body. And even not then. My partner has instructions on what to do should I die before Fox does. She doesn't get attached. She could sell her horse tomorrow and not really care where it went or what happened to it.

2. She treats horses as nothing but a commodity which is not the bad thing, it is her attitude that they are disposable. Her horse wasn't cantering properly and she couldn't fix it. Her thoughts were that he may as well be dog food. I told her that I would take him before that happened. She thought I was crazy. Thankfully her horse improved. When Fox initially hurt himself and I said how long the recovery would be, she said "but what if it takes longer?" I said "then it will take longer." "What if it takes two years?" "Then that will be how long it will take."

2. She is so, so rough with a horses mouth. She tried to tell me that a horse has hardly any feeling in its mouth and that I could pull harder and harder until he did what I wanted which at the time was forcing him into a frame.

3. She rides her horses front to back. As above she forces her horses into a frame. Her recommendations for Fox's recovery were that I start lunging him in side reins and getting him nice and round again. Um no. That when I start riding, I start forcing him into a frame again. Um no.

4. She ear twitches. Bad bad bad! If a horse isn't standing still enough to brush or plait etc instead of teaching it to stand still she just twitches it, neck, nose or ear.

5. She thinks I am absolutely mental to be riding bitless. Again not the problem I'm fine with people using bits but her arguments for using a bit are a little shoddy. I made a comment that I didn't ride in a bit at all anymore and said the only time I need it by regulation is when doing dressage or showing. She was very surprised that you could use it for x country and then seemed to think that it was just a backwater NZ rule but I gladly put her straight saying no those are British Pony Club rules. She seemed quite miffed. I went on to comment that I thought it was bizarre that they let people go x country but not do dressage bitless. She got all up in arms and said "but you can't do dressage without a bit." I asked her why not. She said "because a horse needs to be on the bit and accepting the bit." I said "the term on the bit is just an expression for the outline of a horse when he is collected and yes accepting the bit. But if your horse is properly trained, he shouldn't need a bit or even reins to hold that. It is called self carriage. If your horse can't hold that frame without help he isn't properly schooled or ready for being in that deep a collection." She seemed to grudgingly accept my point. Can you imagine what her poor horse would do if she asked him to carry himself?

6. Harsher bits are the answer to everything. Her horse has started leaning on the bit, I wonder why? Her solution - "I need a bit with more bite to it to teach him not to lean." When I was abusing poor Fox under her instruction, her answer to him not wanting to put his head in a frame was "you need a stronger bit to get him to listen." Thankfully I never took that bit of advice!

7. She wouldn't have let me buy Fox in the first place. Ok so this one is personal! I did everything right when buying him, I asked a million questions, rode him, had him on trial, got several experienced horse people to have a look at him. How was I to know that the seller had basically lied to me. And she seems to forget that the first time she saw him, she approved of him also. The injuries Fox has had could have happened to any horse I bought, we're just having a really bad run at the moment. And knowing her track record with behaviour problems it is highly unlikely that she would have noticed Fox's. And you know what, I would probably bought him anyway.

She is everything I don't want to be in a horse person. I guess in that regard I have her to thank for giving me such a strong role model of what not to do!


  1. I know exactly where you're coming from.

    I grew up in the middle of nowhere, and have recently moved to a new middle of nowhere.

    Ninety percent of everyone out here use spurs and don't really know how. I think they like the little "chink-chink" noise.

    They yank their horses' faces around when riding, and barrel around at top speed, then wonder why they can't get their horses to stand still.

    Their training methods have made their horses so dull that none of them have any personalities anymore.

    All you can do is grit your teeth and smile and nod and get the hell away from them as soon as possible. It's not worth the raising of the blood pressure to try to tell any of them anything :)

  2. Well, I'm from your school of thought. I het really attached to my pets. I can't bare to see them suffering and I always do the best I can to aleviate their pain. I don't like to see them sad.

    I am all for good training versus harsh methods but a bite or a kick will trigger a reaction from my part.

    I am from your school, but I know plenty of people who would rather take the short cut than spend a bit of time with their horse. Horses are our partner in our work or play and we need to treat them as equal (meaning, I am still the alpha mare), meaning that I won't run them when they are in pain, lame or sick. I will provide care to the best of my knowledge and will insure that my knowledge is always up to date and very diversified.

    Good work with Fox! Don't give up!

  3. If Fox is rude, he will get told off for sure! But in sayig that I don't chase him for hours in a round pen kind of tell off. He knows when he gets a smack with the end of the leadrope or backed up that what he's done isn't cool. He's a smart horse he knows. He might keep trying it for a while but he knows.