Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Sweden - the land of carrots and apples
It is real, I've seen it on video in a documentary as well.
Curly_horse_CMT: yeah, I'm serious. I think you people are imagining that fear because you think it's unatural. There is nothing that say a horse must be scared by having large predators aroud them. I can sense some level of being uncomfortable, but not any fear of the lion/bear. They're alreay so used to have those animals there and around them, they're no longer afraid of them. A scared horse wouldn't trot that casually and simply it just doesn't look frightened. On the documentary I saw it was even nuzzeling the lion (through bars) when they lead it past his cage. Their pens/cages were next to each other and the horse didn't mind at all. Didn't see any tension like that when the lion jumped up (on the film) either, other than that the horse threw his head up for a second in the landing, probably due to the weight.
I'm not saying that particular show is good, lots of things in the training methods and keeping of the animals could improve, but the horse was more nervous around the humans than around the lion. So I don't see anything wrong with the circus trick, if they just change to a bigger horse, smaller lion, care better for the animals health and train them differently etc. The thing with a horse carrying predator isn't that bad or weird.
And as I said; humans are predators too, we might not have teeth and fangs, but we have whips and spurs. We smell meat-eater and we move like a predator. Still we can get the horses used to us, so why it should be so bad and impossible to get them used to a lion or a bear, I don't see.
And this about circus acts altogether being bad for the horse just makes me laugh. (some previous comment). Dressage (todays, modern dressage), supposed to be the best and most constructive, sound, strengthening riding... started in a circus. (I guess western being the one most used for real work)
First there were academic dressage, then ''knightly'' games got forbidden on several locations, and english riding came to life; that is: trail riding, hunting, steeplechase and the like. But Baucher started mixing the old academic dressage with the new, free (english) riding. ''The new method'' is the base to what top riders use today. And Baucher got known for his training and riding - when he had become a famous circus artist and showed his horses on the circus. Modern dressage was born. I'm thinking of it because it's not the first time I hear especially dressage riders comment that ''circus tricks'' (mostly the spanish walk, prancing, bowing and the like) shouldn't be performed because it's no real riding and has no purpose. But what is dressage nowadays other than a form of circus? You show how well you and your horse can do different tricks that there is no use for in daily life, riding altogether is pretty useless in most cases, just good for our pleasure. Still that is ok, but circus acts are not? :P
But now I've wandered off the topic.
Well, that's my point of view. And I don't see any fear in the horse. It's perhaps a little stressed due to the crowd and the training it has gotten, but it's not afraid of the lion.
But I see problems with how everything is cared for, and the weight issues.
Then you can think I'm blind or whatever, but I know what a scared horse looks like. If I hadn't known that, I'd never come so far with groundwork wth my own horse, because I wouldn't be able to see when I was stepping on his limits and should stop to keep him from getting scared. I'm not a good rider, but I love to work with horses from the ground, and especially to get them used to ''scary'' things and see them overcome their fears. And I'm good at that.
Always keep your head up, but be careful to keep your nose at a friendly level.
Last edited by Zab; 10-20-2008 at 04:42 PM.