Ignorance vs Stupidity
I have met many owners who are ignorant and many (though not quite as many) who are stupid when it comes to their horses. But, I've learned that I just have to step back and mind my own business - I don't know all and I can't expect people to put their trust in me, especially ones I just met.
But anyhow, how about I take a few steps back and fill you in on a couple things. Well, one - we recently moved our horses to a new barn, one with just a few other boarders. One boarder is a "older" (like, late 50's) couple who have never owned horses before and recently adopted a mare from the animal rescue league without any knowledge about her training and such. Well, that alone just kind of rings my bell that they took on this mare without research first, but like I said - I need to learn to let things go if I want to work in this industry.
So, this mare, her name is Princess and she really is a cute little thing. She's friendly and confident and seems to be a nice horse.
Well, I was out the other day and the woman was having troubles lunging Princess - she kept stopping and turning towards the center. It was easy to see why, the woman kept stepping in front of the mares shoulder and thus, cutting her off. Princess was just doing what she thought was right. So, trying to be nice, I politely offered some advice, explaining how when you lunge you want to stay behind their shoulder and drive.
The woman seemed nice enough, and very willing for help and asked if I would demonstrate. So, I did.
Well, I got the mare walking nicely - then asked if it was okay to trot. The woman said sure and so we started a nice working trot. After about a lap and a half, suddenly Princess locked her neck and literally sat back on her haunches and spun to the outside, yanking the lead out of my hands and nearly making me face plant. She then proceeds to bolt out down to her buddies in the lower paddock.
Slightly stunned and worried that the woman was going to be mad, I turn and looked at her. She just looked at me and giggled a little then said that she did that all the time.
I WAS PISSED.
My fingers were all raw and rope burned from having the lead dragged through them and my inside shoulder hurt from it being yanked on and this woman was giggling at an animal the size of a small car pulling me off my feet and if she did this "all the time" didn't think it would be a good idea to WARN me?
But regardless, now I had to work on this little issue of Princess's - I admit, I enjoy figuring out that kind of stuff. So, with permission from the woman, I go get Princess, who willingly is caught and brought back up. We start walking again and I'm just watching her, seeing what she was doing - I noticed quickly that she would attempt to lock her neck when she would pass by the arena door so I just gently tugged in intermedient little bouts to keep the bend in her neck and to get her attention back on me.
With her focusing nicely, I ask for a trot. Almost immediately she tries again to spin me off. But, I was prepared and kept a hold of her (but not without more rope-burns...). This time I caught onto her little "cue" that when she was going to try was she'd cock her hips to the outside so she had leverage to sit back and really swing away from me.
So, when I saw her the next time try and throw her hips out, I just stepped back behind her shoulder and really drove her forward. She was hesitant and tried and pull back again - but eventually gave in and went forward. She tried multiple times for the next five minutes both ways to pull her little trick again - and she spun around successfully once or twice, but otherwise understood that I had out-witted her.
Well, the next pass I just asked her to walk (as she was getting hot since she was VERY out of shape) and suddenly she spun without cocking her hip out and simply bolted. She did NOT care if I was dragging on the other end, she knew she was bigger and stronger than me and was gone.
Obviously not going be drug, I let her go.
This was the last straw. I don't tolerate, no, cannot tolerate that type of behavior - for the safety of me, and anyone that would be around her. She had learnt that she was stronger than me and I had lost her respect because of it.
I find it hard to understand how this concept eludes so many people, but it does. Horses are physical animals - they communicate through physical actions. You don't see them in the pasture walking up to one another and saying, "Excuse me, could you please move because I am the more dominate mare and I would like to eat that grass." No, the dominate mare pins her ears as a warning and if the lower horse doesn't move, she bites or kicks and displays her superiority PHYSICALLY.
Now that Princess KNEW that she could overpower me, and any other human for that matter, there needed to be an intervention or else to simply put it, she WOULD become dangerous.
So, explaining this to the woman, I ask if I would have permission to put a lead shank over her nose so their was some bite and give me some leverage to work with, since we were just using a flat nylon halter.
The woman shakes her head and says, "*enter natural horsemanship big-shot name* doesn't BELIEEEVE in using chains, and that horses can be taught without out them with LOOOOVVVVEE and patience!!"
While yes, most horses CAN be trained with lots of patients and *cough*love*cough* (>.>;), when a horse doesn't have a care in the world about hurting ME and dragging me, how in the world am I suppose to "talk with it, and convince it to be nice and not try and kill me when she gets the slightest bit tired..."
No, you can do anything you want with your horse and chose to use patience and "love", but only AFTER you've gained the horses respect and it understand that YOU are the boss, and YOU are in charge. Period. And that is done with the horse's natural language: PHYSICAL body communication.
I tried to explain that the chain wouldn't hurt her, it would just apply more pressure in a more concentrated area and make her listen (a little fib, but it's mostly the truth... If Princess throws herself into the chain, she's hurting herself. She'll figure it out quick enough NOT to do it. Just like if a horse runs up to the dominate horse and the dominate horse bites, guess what! That horse ain't going to run up on the dominate horse any more or is just going to continue to get bit! Horses AREN'T STUPID!).
But there was no use. But - I did convince her to let me put her in a rope halter with some pressure points on the nose band...
With that, I went and grabbed her, we worked for about five minutes. Waiting for her to pull her stunt and when she did and succeed to spin (other wise I would attempt to push her forward and prevent the entire incident), I just sat back and held on with all my might - if I kept onto her and she understood that she couldn't get away from me like that, I would end it on that note (after having her lunge for one turn just so she doesn't associate spinning and pulling back as stopping).
That's exactly what happened and you would be AMAZED at the change in Princess's respect for me as the leader.
Before when just simply leading her, she would always be pulling - trying to walk in front of me and lead me. But after, she actually kept her shoulder behind mine and quietly followed.
So I explained to the woman how I could see that Princess now was respecting me by how she was accepting being followed and that I didn't recommend lunging her on her own unless she felt confident being able to handle Princess's stunt - explaining that she would try again. I also stressed that you CAN'T loop the lead in her hand when she lead her because that is how you could potentially be dragged. She smiled like this was no big deal and thanked me for my help.
Well, feeling generally accomplished and helping someone from potentially being hurt - I went and finally played with my horse after working with Princess for a good two-hours.
Next day I get out their and the woman is their with her 14 year old granddaughter and the gdaughter is lunging princess with the excess lunge twirlled around her arm - the woman not even in the arena but in the tack room.
Honestly, did she not see her 900lb animal lift ME off my feet and would have dragged me if I had not have been able to let go. Now, I'm not a twig of a girl, I've got muscle and meat on my bones - this little girl IS a twig and from what I could see, didn't look like she knew what she was doing. Oh, and Princess was back in the nylon flat halter when I told the woman that she was welcome to use my rope one and I highly encouraged it.
But, I knew that I shouldn't push it - I've had my mouth get me in trouble so I just said "Hi," and went to get my horse in the pasture.
And guess what? As I'm walking up here comes Princess running down - thankfully without a little girl drug behind her.
I ground tied Jag (my gelding) and grabbed Princess and the woman comes running down and takes her. And guess what - she take Princess and puts her back in the pasture after that.
So, I guess my point about this novel of a post is that like the saying goes - you can take a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. At first, the woman was just ignorant as to the severity of the situation - but now - after I've tried to educate just a slight bit (and I like to think I might no SOMETHING, even if just a smige since I've been working with horses consecutively for nearly 10 years and am now going to college FOR horses and LOVE to learn from people whenever possible) and she just blew it out the window and not only is endanger herself, but also a kid - she's just ****ing stupid....
Comments? Any similar situations? Do tell!!!
P.s. Sorry for the novel... This really got under my skin.