Times have changed and so should we. - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 33 Old 10-12-2013, 03:10 PM
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Quote: Nowadays horses are firmly established as companions in leisure. It is time we humans re-examined from scratch how we communicate with such unique beasts.

I also think it's time we humans re-examined from scratch how we communicate with each other.

It takes no time at all to "tell" something; so much stuff out there. I, for one, am getting the knack (at last) of ignoring verbiage: written (so much advertising!); heard (people talking out into space as they carry around cell phones---really more than I want to hear).

Just imagine if there were a Natural Humanship.
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post #12 of 33 Old 10-12-2013, 04:31 PM
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Beling, there is natural humanship. My father was a gifted speaker with an incredible command of the engish language. His speech was concise and direct to the point. He was brilliant at controlling an audience thro intonation of voice and body language, yet he was a humble man. His skills also worked one on one. Fortunately he devoted his life to the betterment of man.
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post #13 of 33 Old 10-13-2013, 08:32 AM Thread Starter
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Some of you may have wondered why I started a new thread entitled “Times have changed ……..” when there was already a thread, posted originally by CRK running entitled “It is times for change”

My reasoning was that it would have been inappropriate for me to try to take over someone else’s thread. But a second reason was that I was trying to make a subtly different point. Often the difficulty for the writer fails to make clearly one’s point when writing on an internet forum - especially on a subjects as complex as horse riding where there are inherently some significant differences in philosophy. There is also the complication of point of view - Americans judge matters in a slightly different way from Europeans, yet we try to communicate with each other in the same language - English. Incidentally English is not the dominant first language in Europe - probably German is the most used first language in the European Union, although English is the undoubtedly the second language for use cross border. Language is a complex issue and mutual comprehension is what ultimately matters. Since non verbal communication takes such an important place in the English language, it is easy to see why written words alone do not always convey accurately a common meaning.
I failed to make my point so here is a second attempt.

As an Englishman I would say that we British have an international presence in the equine world but I have to accept that the Germans, many of whom speak excellent English, also have an important role to play internationally in equine sports. The Germans often win at top level competition not only in dressage but also in show jumping. However the traditions followed by German riders tend to be different from those held by the average British rider ~ if there is such a person. German riders believe in order, permission and licence. Whereas we Brits will plonk a novice rider on a calm horse and lead them out of the yard and into the community. But maybe the time has arrived in this modern world where how we teach riding and attitudes towards the horse should be reconsidered.. Maybe it is time for us Brits, who live huddled together on a tiny island, the size of Alabama, rethought equine issues. The methods which were appropriate in the 1950s are no longer in keeping with modern day needs.

We Brits have an ancient road network which has its foundations laid down 2000 years ago in Roman times. Nowadays we expect the lorry, the car, the motor cycle, the push bike, the runner, the dog walker, the mother pushing a pram, and the horse - all to share the same stretch of road. That has to be a dubious policy, one inherited from a byegone era when blame played a lesser role in day-to-day attitudes. We Brits want to be able to sue in the courts for perceived negligence.

But on top of this dilemma there is the matter of training. In Britain we riders are not all taught in the same way. Already on HF, two threads have gone into detail about the concept of negative and positive instruction. Contributors had gone round and round in circles discussing the concept of how to ask a horse to do what we have asked of it. Yet on the same day further down the list of threads on the sub forum of “Horse Training“, a young woman looking for ideas as to how to bond with her newly acquired horse. When I noticed Dovelover’s thread, I wondered whether she had any idea that what we had been discussing in complex terminology, was relevant to her with her new horse.

Back on this Sceptered Isle, we Brits have the British Horse Society which arguably is the dominant influence in British horse riding but the BHS fundamentals are based on principles established by the military and the hunt and, more recently, the competition arena. We are not setting out to educate the amateur rider in the theories behind the sport. The novice has little idea of just how complex riding can be We Brits are not even fully agreed about how best to sit on the animal: - do we use the dressage seat or the hunt seat for every day riding?

Non verbal communication is at the heart of coping with the horse. Thanks perhaps to the growth of the sport, nowadays more is known about horses than ever. We have the ability to utilise modern technology to measure and evaluate the techniques used to ride and control a horse. We can measure the forces of gravity and the weights involved. We can measure the force impacting on the front legs of jumping horses. We can calculate and record the power exerted by a horse when carrying a rider. Yet we don’t seem to have brought this knowledge into the training of a novice rider. We are too keen to mount the novice up and call out: “walk on”. Tuition should start in the class room.

Elsewhere in life I can find onerous the German attitudes towards order and discipline - “Alles ist in ordnung”. But I do appreciate why they lay down rules in the world of horses. I have ridden with German and Dutch riders across the wild moors of Wales. I had no criticism of their competence, they each had been schooled well.

I’d like to know more about how they tackle the teaching of horse riding in Germany and I suspect I’ll come to think that some of their ideas ought to be brought into the British Equine world.

Of course this new schooling, strongly influenced by our German colleagues, will have to be given in English. Certainly my own conversational German is not good enough to absorb the teaching.
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post #14 of 33 Old 10-15-2013, 03:24 PM
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The big change, I think, is in the diversity of humans' relationships with the horse.

It isn't so much a question of what is right and wrong; I believe the modern horseman really loves his horses.

But it's no longer always a matter of, say, use in competition, or on the trail, or ranch. There are many of us, I find, whose horses really are family. We enjoy caring for them. Personally, I enjoy the riding. I'm not into a lot of groundwork, but I know several ladies totally fascinated and fulfilled by doing groundwork and very little riding.

I'm forever striving for something. It's the schooling I enjoy, it's all-important to me, and the conversations I have while riding is what I value most. Although I began dressage training using German methodology, I realized it was not my "style", and when my teacher moved, I threw away the flash noseband and went "liberal."

I guess what I'm trying to say is, "horsemanship" is not only a "sport"; it can be a way of life.
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post #15 of 33 Old 10-15-2013, 04:01 PM
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Funny you say I bonded with that horse. I did not own him. I did not care for him. He was a lesson horse.... and we really spent little time together other than a few rides one winter in an indoor arena.

I don't really believe in "bonding" per se. I think you get on and see how you go together and move off. Bonding is for dogs. Horses are for work.

I have had a few horses over the years. Most had to work in some fashion or another with cattle and all had to learn the basic tenants of dressage because a balanced horse is an easy horse to work.

Quite honestly, I view horses as livestock. They prefer to live with other horses.

This does not mean I do not like them or enjoy them.. and I surely do enjoy training them. That one horse was special for me to ride. There is no doubt in my mind if I got hung up in the tack and he spooked he would have killed me and not thought about it twice.

A dog might miss me a bit.
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post #16 of 33 Old 10-15-2013, 04:29 PM
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Barry, I'm a German living in the US taking dressage lessons from a Brit. You might say that my lessons qualify as an international incident ;)

She's actually one of the best trainers I've ever had the pleasure of working with. She is very orderly and structured - perhaps the reason why we get along so well.

Regarding communicating with horses, we work on whispering our aids. She says "always ask politely first but when you don't get a response, ask firmly."
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post #17 of 33 Old 10-15-2013, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Elana View Post
...I don't really believe in "bonding" per se. I think you get on and see how you go together and move off. Bonding is for dogs. Horses are for work...
My mare likes me, to the extent she likes any human - but she has come close to killing me during bolts. Our gelding does NOT like me. He prefers to avoid me - but he is a very safe horse to ride. My conclusion, which I've shared with some NH friends, is: You ride the training, not the bond!

My mare is a much safer ride now than she once was. It isn't because she likes me more, and not really that she trusts me, as an individual, more. She just has been ridden more, and started to develop a HABIT of obeying, and has started to learn that HUMANS - not bsms personally, but humans as a category - often know if something is worth being afraid of or not.

Our "bond" in no stronger now than it was 4 years ago, but she is much safer to ride - including if I put a new rider on her back. Every 1000 times she obeys, time 1,001 becomes that much more likely. It's the training, not the bond. I think that is something the cavalry and many ranchers understand. The greatest failure in modern riding, IMHO, is its quest to turn a horse into a dog.
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post #18 of 33 Old 10-16-2013, 09:10 AM Thread Starter
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Agh, wuld the Giftie gie, the gift to see ourselves as others see us

Quote: The greatest failure in modern riding, IMHO, is its quest to turn a horse into a dog.

OH BSMS - in those words you betray yourself. When I read your posts I read your mind ie "that the mare Mia steals all your affection and that the gelding doesn't like you". In your writing you betray your emotions by what you say and your choice of words. You join the club of horse lovers - which undoubtedly you are - and you direct your affection to a female horse - which sometimes tries to dump you. Where else have we men met with a similar situation when dealing with the females of the specie?

Why do you think so many of us give most of our spare time and a sizeable amount of our income to a four legged animal which can't speak our language? We use horses - as we also do dogs or even cats - as a recipient for the emotions which otherwise we may not have.

Recently I suffered a bout of insomnia which was eventually cured by a powerful sleeping pill which came with warnings on the packet. I had been diagnosed as being in a severe state of depression. The psychiatrist likened it to bereavement depression. The question arose as to what had been the trigger - well the obvious answer was the well documented need 12 months ago to put down my mare. However around the same time in 2012 my two dogs had reached the end of their lives. The dogs I replaced in my life very quickly and as I write they both sit at my feet patiently awaiting me to take them for a walk in the pouring rain. Tommie and Missy have unquestionably taken the roles of Rocky and Jenna. They now have the cushy life which was denied them in the puppy farm from which they were rescued.

As for the mare, well, for a multitude of reasons she is not to be replaced. In the consideration of my taking on a horse, there are other weighty matters which should not be ignored by any responsible horse lover, particularly one of my age. But there is also the risk that I might experience yet again the emotions I felt should the need arise to put the horse down. During my long with horses I have had to put down five horses and each time the emotional cost increased.

I guess as yet you have not had the need to put your own emotions to the test. Then you may see that your feelings towards Mia are deeper in your psyche than you are presently prepared to accept. Maybe inappropriate for me to say - but I hope so.

I personally will openly acknowledge that saying "good bye" to a faithful domesticated animal can be a traumatic event. For months recently. I cried tears whenever I spoke to a stranger about DiDi. The only other creatures which have given me so much pain upon their leaving my life and going on their way were four horses and twelve dogs.

But, No, a horse can't sit on my lap, nor can it ride in the back of the car.
No, I did not deliberately set out to turn a horse into a dog, but the two very different creatures tend to occupy the same segment in my mind. They both have managed to kid me into giving them tidbits and they both have spent some of the precious time of my life.

But there again some of my favourite memories are of me riding my horse in the woods with a Labrador named Stomper riding at heel.

The Scots have a very apt saying about seeing themselves as others see them. I see you as a devout horse (and probably dog) lover. That MIA has wormed her way deep into your psyche.

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post #19 of 33 Old 10-16-2013, 11:44 AM
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I will disagree on the training being more important than the bond. I've owned and worked with many horses over the years and its very evident that many horses will work much better for the person they have bonded with than they will for another equally good rider. Our cob does everything
better' for our son who she sees as 'her human' and she spends the first week of him going back to college in a very sulky mood and I've known many horses that would only be caught by their owners and horses that were well trained but still acted up with some people and not with others
I was once married to someone who was in the mounted division of the UK Cavalry and they allocate each 'rider' a horse because they believe that a better partnership is produced that way as horse and rider develop a bond - the police in the UK do the same thing. I have also seen many big tough army men in tears because 'their horse' had been written off as no longer fit for service - in those days the horses were always shot when this happened and not retired to a life in a nice grassy field.
You really think that these horses are treated just as work animals?
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post #20 of 33 Old 10-16-2013, 12:16 PM
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Trooper & I have NO bond. But I've ridden him hundreds of times, and respect him as a horse. He accepts that I respond to him, and 'appreciates' me as a rider. But we don't like each other. I never look outside and think, "This looks like a nice day for riding Trooper". Yet when I ride him, he is a safe, responsive, obedient horse...we just don't click.

Mia & I have always liked each other. I suppose that is why I bought her. But while she has always liked me well enough, she was dangerous for me to ride for a long time. Why? Because she lacked training. OK, and because my riding sucked - but my riding sucked on Trooper, without Trooper becoming dangerous. It is training that keeps you safe and enables you to control a horse, not 'bond'.

The two are independent of each other. You can have a bond with a horse whose training sucks, and none with a horse who has very good training. Wanna guess which of those two is safe to ride?

Ideally, you can have a horse that is well trained and that you enjoy. But you ride the training, not the bond. Even now, I would be safer riding Trooper in the desert than Mia - because it is training that keeps you safe on a horse, and Mia is still a work in progress.

This is the lie that to many in the NH world push: "bond = control". How many threads are there with the advice 'You need to build a bond with your horse' when the root problem is a horse whose training has holes, or who has learned how to ignore his rider? You can train a horse to follow you around in a round pen like a puppy dog, and still have her go mindless under saddle. Want to guess how I know that?

Once the horse is trained to habitually obey his rider, then any bond will become better. And if there is no emotional bond, at least the horse is still safe and responsive. An emotional bond - which definitely exists between some horses and their riders - improves the effect of training. But for safe riding, training is the critical factor. "Bond" merely builds on that base.

I'm looking forward to riding Mia today. I enjoy her company. There is a zero percent chance I will ride Trooper today. But Trooper is still the safest and most trustworthy horse I own...
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