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Horsemen: Where has our common sense gone?

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    07-12-2011, 11:56 AM
Originally Posted by thesilverspear    
Yep. But my point is that for the sort of horse owner you're describing, if it wasn't NH DVDs, it would be something else. "I'm cranking his face in with my chambone draw reins combo and he's still trying to kill me. Maybe I need a standing martingale as well."
That has not been my experience.

Non-Kool-aid drinkers do not tend to be so wrapped up in one system that they are closed to the idea of input from the outsider.
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    07-12-2011, 12:02 PM
It's definitely been mine.
    07-12-2011, 12:11 PM
I'm not opposed to NH as a whole. In fact, I use some of the elements with Aires (our personal favorite is the "What's this?" game that our friend taught us who uses CA's methods). HOWEVER, I personally don't think it is for every horse. The gelding I used to have was "trained" by some of those "Kool-aid crowders" who watched the Parelli DVD and then thought they were all-knowing.

Dakota is 3/4 arab and 1/4 saddlebred and will take advantage anywhere he can. He was fat, lazy, spooky, and a downright pill when he was sent to my friend for "re-training" because his owners couldn't handle him. He was lazy because, according to his owners and what they "learned" from PP, if he acted spooky or afraid of something while under saddle, they got off him and put him away so it wouldn't cause him to be afraid of whatever it was. So, he learned VERY quickly that he could just act like he was spooked and it got him out of work. Same thing on the ground. He would spook at his own shadow if he thought it would get him out of doing something he didn't want to do. It took literally DAYS of a stronger hand forcing him to confront the things he was "afraid" of before he became even remotely sane in-hand. It took further days of forcing him to stand tied on the wash rack before he stopped dancing around because his old owners used to put him away if he acted antsy (because, again according to them, PP said to). It took WEEKS of daily work to teach him how to lunge (because, according to his owners, PP says not to lunge) to get him to where he was rideable again. When my friend did ride him, he pulled his head so far into his chest that his chin was literally touching his chest. Why? Because these people who swore by PP rode him in a martingale that was adjusted to keep his head that close in.

However, the spooking and all that weren't his real issue. His real issue was the fact that their trainer (who was a self-taught PP disciple) would not correct the tack problems, but kept stepping up the harsh aids in order to get Dakota to behave. They started him over 24" fences as a 3yo because their "trainer" said it was okay. Dakota loved to jump until it started to hurt. As a 5yo, he started having arthritic changes in his hocks and refused to jump because it hurt so bad. So, they switched him to Western pleasure (he is SO not a WP horse!). Their saddle was too small and pinched Dakota's shoulders, so he let them know he didn't like it by becoming difficult to handle. The "trainer" put him in a twisted wire snaffle straight away. She didn't even TRY to figure out what the underlying issue might be. That ticked him off even more, so the "trainer" had them riding him in spurs (rowled Western spurs). That made it even worse, so they tied his head down to his chest. However, after a few months of working with him, a saddle that actually fit him pretty decently (never met a horse so hard to fit a saddle on!), and calm, consistent training, I was riding Dakota in a french-link snaffle with absolutely no training aids. He was calm (bordering on half-asleep lol) and responsive. Never tried to balk, spook or run off with me (like he did his old owners). Yes, I had to shank him quite a few times to get him to listen and stop being an idiot. Yes, he got fisted in the ribs when he tried to dance over the top of me while I was wrapping his legs before a workout (apparently any sort of "violence" is strictly abhorred by the NH crowd?). But, that's what it took for this 900lbs horse to realize that 170lbs me was in charge and that his stupid BS wouldn't fly. No amount of wiggling the lead rope to make him back up or any of that stuff was going to stop him climbing up my shoulder when he thought he saw something that *might* spook him.

We have a lady at the stable where we board that did Parelli with her arab gelding. When I mentioned that I had to shank Dakota, she nearly blew a gasket. She spent a good thirty minutes lecturing me (without me able to get a word in edgewise) about the evils of shanking and violence against horses in general. She said just wiggling the lead rope at him would have been enough. As soon as her steam ran out, I informed her that Dakota had initially been trained using PP's methods and that was what caused me to have to use such a stern hand with him. Her gelding got out the other day (she lives 2 hours away) and it took FOUR people a good thirty minutes just to catch him in a stall he'd wandered into because of the Parelli games she uses (the "Catch me" game or something like that?). When I brought that up, she had no response other than "You didn't play the game right." I'm sorry, but I shouldn't have to play a game (that I have no clue about) with another person's horse in order to catch it. None of the other horses (that were trained with more traditional methods) are difficult to catch in the turnout, but her gelding is nearly impossible. Just sayin'...

As for the NH making horse training "dummy proof"'s one of my FAVORITE quotes by British author, Douglas Adams:
“A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.”

I think that this is the case with NH. It makes every armchair cowboy think that they're a trainer, when all they end up doing is ruining a good horse (as in the case of my Dakota).
    07-12-2011, 12:16 PM
The only training videos I own are by John Lyons. I have a number of books on riding/training, and most of them involving working with the way a horse thinks, rather than contrary to it.

I fail to see any harm in that. I've met cowboys who thought spurs were used to punish, and cowboys who used spurs to get outstanding performance from a willing horse. I've seen ranch hands (and non-ranch folks) use come-alongs to force a horse in a trailer, and others who taught their horses to load.

Frankly, anyone who uses the "I'll beat the hell out of you" method of training a horse is not a horseman at all.

Teaching newbies like myself how to read a horse's body language is NOT harmful in any way.

I don't know any Pat Parelli games, and I don't have a TV so I don't watch Clinton Anderson. I will say that John Lyon's approach, used by a trainer we hired and, to the extent I can, used by me when I work with our horses, has been very effective with 2 horses, and is working (slowly) with my third. The two horses trained using those principles were a 6 year old unbroke Arabian, and an Appy/Arabian cross who had been abused by cowboys on a working ranch, and who has the scars to prove it. The third is my very stubborn, dominant and fearful mare...I suppose I could shoot her, but I'd rather try to teach her instead. Forgive me!

Natural Horsemanship doesn't involve blowing unicorn snot into your horse's mouth. It does involve correcting the horse in a way the horse is capable of understanding, without just beating the tar out of the horse.

Yes, I've hired a professional trainer to help us - but she is here once each week. I'm here all the time, and training my horses for good or evil every time I'm around them. Running a horse ragged in circles every time you ride him is NOT NH. Accepting bad behavior is NOT NH. Buying a DVD & some overpriced gimmick is NOT NH. And spurring your horse bloody in anger is NOT being a good cowboy.

There are idiots everywhere, including ranches and NH clinics. I've also been given excellent advice from both cowboys and NH trainers. The trick in life is learning to recognize BS, regardless of who slings it.
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    07-12-2011, 12:52 PM
Monty Roberts' method has allowed me to gain more control over Hugo. I tried others, Monty works for us.

I think the biggest problem with NH is the layman thinks/believes that reading a book or watching a DVD equals a bypass to massive amounts of time and hard work. Yeah, Pat Parelli or Clinton Anderson may be able to quickly turn bad behavior around but these guys have been doing this for YEARS.

Cesar Millan frequently states that although he can 'work miracles' on dogs in minutes it comes from years of practice. His method works for me and mine. I have three rescue dogs who have benefited greatly from it. I've studied and practiced and made mistakes but I kept at it. Heck, I even used the techniques on my son. Tssst brings my household to a standstill. I have become calmer and a much better leader as well. I consider the seven years it took to get here to be time well spent.

The fact is, no yahoo will ever be able to watch a DVD, go to one workshop or read a book and become a 'Horse Whisperer'. Nice fairy tale but not reality. It takes much time and hard work to become a good trainer.
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    07-12-2011, 12:55 PM
Originally Posted by AmazinCaucasian    
I have a problem with Natural Horsemanship. Every time I click on a youtube video that looks cool, but turns out to be a NH follower, I want to vomit. Somebody's crouched down with their "ears laid back" trying to imitate Pat Parelli or trying to join up like Monte Roberts. Looks so silly.
I have to say that's a harsh statement. Most people will never be Clinton Anderson, or Monty Roberts, or John Lyons and realize that, however I do NOT see why they can't practice their methods and why they can't take videos and share them. I take video of my rides all the time (to see what I do wrong and what to improve). Sometime I do share (mostly shows), and I'd be appalled to hear someone says they want to vomit looking at my video. If you want to vomit - don't watch!

Now... I don't practice NH. As well as I don't like working on ground unless there is a real need (I prefer to get on and work). However while back when I just started my horses (having very limited experience) I found "Respect on ground" by CA to be very helpful to address problems I was having with my qh. It was easy, straightforward, and had lots of common sense in it. And I do use a stick (bought at the Expo for $8) for trailer loading and sometime ground work when I bring them up after the winter break, because I like it more than whips for use on ground.

There are people out there who believe in NH and do it. They are happy with it, and it works for them. Many don't go for $40 carrot sticks or $30 halters. And I don't understand why such people don't deserve a respect from those of us, who don't practice HN.
    07-12-2011, 01:22 PM
As a Former Parelli student I totally agree with you. I was 16 and I saw the awesome things that they were doing on their horses. Jumping over picnic tables bare back- it was breath taking. Fast Forward a few years and my now husband and I are at a horse show and my horse is getting a little worked up. I began to lunge him and asked for a stop- And then I hear roars of laughter from my husband. He is crying he is laughing so hard and he asked my why I had to bow and kiss my horses ass to get him to stop. After re- watching the DVD's I was appalled at how horrible the training method is. My husband is currently re- training me with the Ken McNabb approach. My husband was an apprentice of his a few years ago and I cannot believe the difference in my horse with a "Cowboy" trainer. I agree with your definition of a Cowboy- Just because you wear a hat does not make you one. You have to earn it.
    07-12-2011, 01:33 PM
Originally Posted by kitten_Val    
...However while back when I just started my horses (having very limited experience) I found "Respect on ground" by CA to be very helpful to address problems I was having with my qh...
I've been working Mia from the ground for a while now. She gets afraid and then spins herself out of control. And unless she has learned how to have bad diarrhea at will, it is genuine fear - and I'm getting too old to want to deal with bolting all the time.

Most of the ground work I've done with her has been letting her spin up, then working her to calm her down. When I started, she could spin herself up for 20 minutes of out-of-control running. Now I can spin her up, say "Easy", and she slows to a walk (about 80-90% as of yesterday).

I also used some of the same principles to teach her to stand quiet while tied. Her first lesson was painful - literally, since she fell at a gallop! (Glad I wasn't on her at the time!) But by the end of the session, she was standing quietly tied. I'm still working with her on it, but she is standing quiet on 12" of slack - this from a horse that broke a hitching post the first day I had her. My goal is to have her standing quietly at a post near the road with me not there - and I'm not there yet, but then, I need to bury a post there first...

That doesn't mean I plan to ground work her forever. But both the vet and farrier have commented on how much quieter and relaxed she is now, so it is working. I hope to start riding her again next week.

Maybe there are others who could have just beat her into submission, or maybe there is a NH trainer who could have done the job in a day. Don't know. I'm what she has...and I don't think I'm wrong to work with her instead of sending her to Mexico.
    07-12-2011, 01:41 PM
Originally Posted by bsms    
Maybe there are others who could have just beat her into submission, or maybe there is a NH trainer who could have done the job in a day. Don't know. I'm what she has...and I don't think I'm wrong to work with her instead of sending her to Mexico.
bsms, I was told several times to get rid of my horse(s). Which would be most probably straight on meat truck. Well... I just decided to go through frustrations I guess. So far it was quite paid off when I started to show this year. So as long as you have a will and courage (and patience!) why not?

BTW on side note, CA methods worked greatly for my qh and didn't work for my paint (who is completely different). So as with any method, it's not for every horse and you have to adapt good suggestions from everyone depending on horse, problem, and situation.
    07-12-2011, 01:42 PM
Originally Posted by DraftyAiresMum    
As for the NH making horse training "dummy proof"'s one of my FAVORITE quotes by British author, Douglas Adams:
A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.

I think that this is the case with NH. It makes every armchair cowboy think that they're a trainer, when all they end up doing is ruining a good horse (as in the case of my Dakota).
I guess that was kind of my point using the term "Dumbie-proof." Now, I don't use any of the NH stuff myself, but, for the "armchair cowboy's" out there, I think that there is a chance they are going to ruin a good horse regardless. Even if they aren't buying a C.A. DVD, there is some unknowing horse owner out there surfing to learn how to join up.

You can't make an animal, with its own brain and thought process, "Dumbie-proof." They are animals and can be unpredictible. But I can see why PP, CA, and the others want to make a dime on the attempt. People will buy it, that's the sad part. It works for some, not for others, and these TV trainers are making money on it.

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