Differences in horse culture - US/AUS

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Differences in horse culture - US/AUS

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  • Culture differences in equine owners

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    06-03-2009, 10:15 PM
Differences in horse culture - US/AUS

Being a member of this forum has opened up a whole new part of the horse world that I previously knew nothing about. It amazes me how different yet how similar the horse world is between Australia and the USA. I guess I started this thread to comment on a lot of the differences I frequently come across on this board, I find it very interesting! It boggles the mind how much there is to know and learn about horses, none of us should ever stop taking in as much information as we can, the good and the bad.

The main one: Barns vs. Agistment.

From what I've read on here, if you don't have your own property in the US, your only option for horse ownership is to keep your horse at a privately owned barn, wether it be pasture board, stall board, or a mix of both. There is a BO that governs the way things are run in the barn (and fair enough) and often disagreements arise due to rules, other boarders, etc. Barns can have their own show teams, and are often discipline specific, I.e. Hunter barn, Western Pleasure barn, etc. Barns sometimes will have a resident trainer for a trainer who regularly gives lessons at the barn. Barns also tend to have their own facilities, I.e. Arena, (indoor/outdoor) round yard, wash bay, tack shed etc.

Compare that to the most common method of horse ownership in Australia - Agistment.

In cities (at least my city) there are government owned agistment centres where people can 'rent' paddock space. You get a spot amongst 10-30/40 other horses in large paddocks, a couple of yards for sick/foundred horses (amount/quality varies) and in some places rudimentary facilities - enclosed paddock for riding, some places have outdoor arenas, basic jumping equipment, etc. No place to keep your own gear or feed. Managers of these paddocks are only there for uokeep of pasture and fences, they never interfere with the actual horses, that is the owners responsibility.

There are also privately owned agistment complexes, which are more similar to the American 'Barn'. There are normally a few stable blocks, many paddocks, indoor/outdoor arenas, round yards, holding yards, wash bays etc. various types of agistment on these places, private paddock/share paddock, Stable & paddock combinations, Partial board (they feed/rug in the morning, you do at night, etc) and ful board (all feeding/rugging/stabling done for you) These places often have riding schools based in them, and/or resident trainers and many host their own events.

I don't think I have EVER heard of a horse being on pure stall board in my city, I think it is a more common occurance in the US. The majority of horse owners I know keep their horses in Government paddocks as explained above for around $20pw.

Many people from the US are flabbergasted that my horses live in a pasture 24/7, and don't have a shed/stable to go into. Over here it's the norm! I think my horses would go nuts locked in a stable for any more than night time, I like to think they enjoy their 'horse' time.

Another difference: Rugging.

We have a huge ruggng culture here in Aus, and I don't think it is very big in US except for show horses.about 80% of horses I know in my city are rugged in one form or another through winter, and probably 60% year round. For us, rugging regulates coat, warmth, wind/rain protection in winter and sun/insect protection in summer. Many horses here are clipped in winter and rugged to allow for heavy workloads.

From what I know unless you have show horses ruggin is much rarer in the US. When I was over there last year in April/May, the horse I rode was clipped and not rugged, which is nearly blasphemy over here!

And another, BIG one: Trainers.

Common questions here: Do you have a trainer? Ask Your trainer. What does your trainer say? Take him to a trainer.

I don't personally know anyone in my city who consistantly works with a trainer. Part of it is accessability. As most people don't keep their horses in 'Barns' Trainers are hard to find and expensive to use. The most training many kids get is from volunteer instructors at pony clubs and other youth organisations. Many others just learn by trial and error. Another factor is that trainers in certain disciplines can be hard to find. There are plenty of Dressage/Eventing/SJ trainers, but find a campdrafting/cutting.cow work trainer in Canberra? Get real. The closest trainer to me who teaches my discipline is about an hour and a half away.

We still turn out as decent riders. We just learn from trial and error.

And a pet peeve of mine: The whole western Vs. English mentality in the US.

It seems that in the US, trail riding is majorly a 'western' discpline. Cow work is Western. Rollbacks, good stops, haunch turns = Western. In Australia, you don't ask 'western or english?'. You ask 'what discipline do you do?'. Riding is riding. I think I know 1 family in the part of the horse community I am in with a western saddle. Yet we do cattle work, station work, campdraft, slide stop, spin, rollback. We also do dressage, SJ, eventing, on those same horses. We just ride. It is all horsemanship, I don't understand why it is such a big divide over there. Why should someone be looked down upon is they barrel race and don't have a western saddle? Over here the msot popular saddle for barrel racing outside of rodeo is a stock saddle, and guess what, the times are just as good :] So what if you want to practice dressage but don't use a noseband? It doesn't mean your horse can't do dressage or can't barrel race or can't chase cows because, shock horro, you don't have the right saddle. If you had to have the exact gear to ride horses, many of us should never had started riding in the first place.

Another thing that ties into this, the idea that your horse must be in a curb bit to neck rein. This idea is absolutely ridiculous! Sure, a curb will refine rein signals. But the whole point of neck reins is that the horse responds to the pressure of the rein on his neck, along with leg/body cues. The bit doesn't even come into proper neck reining!

Okay, I think that's about all i've got for now. Feel free to correct any misconceptions, error, whatever. And feel free to debate or discuss anything i've said :]
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    06-03-2009, 11:04 PM
That's all very interesting Wild Spot. I'm Canadian and I've also noticed some differences just between here and the U.S. Like how many people in the U.S. Say that all school horses are robots and non-school horses are so much more wild and dangerous and more advanced in their training. I know a lot of high-priced, privately owned horses that are a lot calmer and dumber than some of the school horses I rode! I think it's because owning a horse is so expensive here that many people continue taking weekly lessons because it's all they can afford, so the riding schools need to have horses for more advanced riders.

Another thing that's different is how Americans talk about taking dressage lessons vs. hunter/jumper lessons. Here you do both until you're experienced enough to pick one to focus on, you don't start out specializing.

Re stalls. I think in our cold climate some breeds need to spend at least part of the time inside. BUT, I don't understand why people think that just because a horse needs to be inside means they need to be in a stall. Lots of people sometimes turn their horses out in indoor arenas - Why couldn't that be a permanent arrangement? Sort of like an indoor paddock. But that's just my personal thought.
    06-03-2009, 11:09 PM
Another thing that's different is how Americans talk about taking dressage lessons vs. hunter/jumper lessons. Here you do both until you're experienced enough to pick one to focus on, you don't start out specializing.
Agree with this. When you start out here, you simply do 'lessons' until you have your own horse or have been riding at that school for a number of years. It's only when you start wanting to compete etc. that you branch into dressage lessons or jumping lessons.

I coul definitely see the need for some kind of shelter in Canada, you guys sure do get cold! But I agree, stables are not the only way to do it. I guess the only problem with an indoor arena could be with too many horses one could get cornered and beat up.
    06-03-2009, 11:24 PM
Originally Posted by wild_spot    

The main one: Barns vs. Agistment.

Another difference: Rugging.

And another, BIG one: Trainers.

Common questions here: Do you have a trainer? Ask Your trainer. What does your trainer say? Take him to a trainer.

And a pet peeve of mine: The whole western Vs. English mentality in the US.
As far as barns go, in the US we don't have government supported facilities. No way would that fly here! But, I don't think there's that much difference between what you describe and boarding a horse. We've boarded at a guy's house. We've been the only boarder. He's a horse trainer also. He does his own hooves. But...he also owns a bunch of rental properties and a business. Horses are his pleasure, not his only source of income. Rules...well, it's his house. We're only boarders and we can stop by whenever we want. We didn't sign a contract.

I don't know anyone who uses stall board or keeps their horse inside a stall. Heck, our barn is open so the horses can get in if they want and out if they want. They are rarely inside.

We have fancy boarding stables with trainers and we have very casual arrangements. There's no one type of situation.

Rugging?? Do you mean using a blanket? I see no need. Heck, in the wild they don't use them. Even those who show don't necessarily use them. I've never seen a clipped horse.

Trainers: Well, everyone defines that a bit differently. Our trainer is a friend of my stepdaughter's. He chose our horse for us. He's giving us lessons. He has boarded our horse. He will help me choose our next horse(s). Sometimes a trainer might be your very knowledgeable horsey friend. People who work 40-60 hours and have horses on their back acreage just usually don't have the horse sense to know how to properly train a horse.

English vs Western: I've got a secret for you. I have NEVER seen an English saddle in real life. Ever. I've never heard it asked "what type of riding do you do?" That's because everyone here assumes you are riding a Western saddle.

By the way, we use a snaffle. We neck rein in a snaffle. Don't like curb bits personally.

BBs may not actually be the best representation of reality.
    06-03-2009, 11:29 PM
I hear you Wild_Spot. I have learned a great deal since joining too. Yes, there are many things about the horse world in the US that make no sense whatsoever. LOL. Of course, I am kind of the exception to the norm over here. I have never worked with a trainer (not counting my Dad) but learned most of what I know through trial and error and error and error...... ;) I can't really comment on the whole "barn" thing as I have always had personal property to keep my horses on. I believe that the whole stalling all the time thing is to blame for many of the vices that American horses have; cribbing, weaving, pacing, excitability, even biting, kicking, and sometimes colic. Most of which could be completely avoided with proper training and some turnout. None of our horses have ever even worn a rug except for Flash back when he was a show horse about 15 to 20 years ago. They all live outside year round with nothing more than some thickets and trees for protection. None of them have ever had a problem with that.

The tack differences: yeah. I have no problem whatsoever if someone wants to barrel race bareback or work cattle in an english saddle. Most of the saddles we have here were specifically designed for that particular discipline; barrel saddles are small and lightweight with a tall horn, roping saddles are heavy and strong, pleasure saddles are lightweight with a comfortable seat, etc. BUT, that shouldn't mean that a person has to have that particular saddle to do well in the competition. When my dad was showing, he would use the same saddle in roping, reining, WP, working cow horse, and whatever else he showed in and still won. Now they have saddles that are completely different for each discipline and you are looked down upon if you do WP in a roping saddle. I don't get it either. LOL.

There is nothing wrong with riding your horse all their lives in a snaffle. I personally prefer to have my broke horses in a curb because it does refine the signals and makes reining and control easier when you have your hands full with a rope or something else. A curb is not necessary, but it is handy. It really is amazing how much you can learn from people that live on the other side of the world. :)
    06-03-2009, 11:36 PM
BBs may not actually be the best representation of reality.

I have NEVER seen an English saddle in real life. Ever
Really??? That boggles my mind, lol.

I do get that there are different situations in different parts of countries, different states, rural vs. city etc. It seems though that the majority of Americans on here either keep their horse at their own property, or in a barn. The way it's talked about on here makes it seem very foreign to what we have here.
    06-03-2009, 11:38 PM
It really is amazing how much you can learn from people that live on the other side of the world.
I agree; There is so much information I have taken in just by reading a lot of the posts on this site. Things such as HYPP and HERDA for example are rarely talked about here, I think if I asked the average QH owner with Impressive or Poco Bueno horses what either of those things are, they would look at me blankly.

There is a wealth of knowledge out there, I just want as much of it as I can get :]
    06-03-2009, 11:43 PM
Many people from the US are flabbergasted that my horses live in a pasture 24/7, and don't have a shed/stable to go into. Over here it's the norm! I think my horses would go nuts locked in a stable for any more than night time, I like to think they enjoy their 'horse' time
Aha! I have kept my own horses out 24/7 in the pasture with no run-in. Sam has sat, very happy, out in his little green heaven in the middle of a ranging thunderstorm. I used to keep him in the paddock when the weather turned bad, but Loki turned the whole thing into soup from chasing him around!

Now Loki's mended in his ways and they get along fine. I've stopped putting him out 24/7 since it got so hot. Even with plenty of water I worry. Sam's old...I just don't want him having a stroke xD

We still turn out as decent riders. We just learn from trial and error.
Same! I don't have a trainer, don't want a trainer, don't need a trainer. Trainers are expensive and I am to overprotective of my herd to allow some stranger to be teaching them anything.
I took maybe a years worth of lessons. I learned how to sit, hold my hands, and how to steer. Everything else (staying on in the midst of a buck, handling a spook, staying seated in a rear...) I learned all by myself.

I learn constantly from trial and error. Sam refused to go, so I gave him a harder kick. But I was to focused on my kicking to see that my reins were to tight...I was sending to many cues! I now focus as best as I can on everything, as I realized my error and corrected it.

I am an 'advanced beginner' I know enough to stay on and handle my hyper/distracted/spooky horse. I am in the midst of completely training...from ground to saddle and beyond...my three year old. He is moving at remarkable pace...without a professional trainer :)

The bit doesn't even come into proper neck reining!
Curb? Pah! I ride with a hackamore. I ride my only-trained-to-a-bit Loki in a hackamore (sin!). My horses neck rein just fine thank you xD

I ride Western mainly because it's comfortable. I enjoy the cushion and security, also because I am not advanced enough to keep my seat in an English style saddle. Not enough muscle, hehe.

On the topic of 'proper gear'. I have exactly:
One bridle
One saddle
One saddle blanket
One cinch

For three horses!. One isn't riding yet, but still! I do lots of stuff in my one-little-western saddle. I can do trail rides and training to just plodding about and ponying kids. It's not 'BLING! FLASHY!' but I'd most certainly be happy to show in it. I talked to some girls once who had 'nice stuff' (for there shows apparently), and some regular.

This concept is strange to me, honestly. Why have more than one good saddle? Unless you have more than one horse, of course. I'm right now looking into buying another set of tack, but only so that I am able to ride at while my brothers are riding, or have another person ride with me.

But to have a specific set of tack for one or two specific uses seems kind of silly. I would like a English or Australian style some day, but that's only because there rather comfortable, and it's something different:)
    06-03-2009, 11:47 PM
About the trainer thing I don't have one either. If im having a problem with my horse I usually ask a friend or one of the adults at my barn for some advice. Plus lots of trial and error.

And the Western-English thing. It bugs me too. Most people that I know ride in both. No one has ever asked me which one I ride just because most people in texas assume you ride in a western saddle. I love to ride in both. I originally learned to ride in english.

One more thing about the lessons. Where I live when you first start riding its all about the basics such as seat and all that good stuff. Then when you move up a level you start learning the basics of both dressage and hunter/jumper stuff. Then after that you get to decide which one you like the most. I personally hated dressage and loved, loved, loved hunter/jumper. But now my love is western and speed events and such.
    06-03-2009, 11:51 PM
Yay, there are lots of like minded people on here :]

Inregards to saddles, my favourite saddle is my Wintec 500 I got 8 years ago. It's really starting to wear out now!

Now that I am getting into showing i'm getting a handmade stock saddle, but it's taken me 14 years of riding to get here, lol. For years I just did everything in my Wintec, put it on all my horses, and had no problems.

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