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PunksTank 08-09-2012 10:02 PM

Gone are the days of horses and their girls
I'm not sure if this is the right place to post this, but I just read this article again after a long time and realize it is even more true today than when I first read it so many years ago:

Instead, Let's Try to Understand

It greatly saddens me that the days of little girls and their horse partners are gone. The woods and trails we rode are now housing projects and strip malls. It all has been replaced by high powered horses and structured "training" of both horse and human.

I thought for awhile that the training methods had improved to the benefit of the horse, but sadly, I was wrong, I can't even watch these well known "trainers." The appalling cruelty just blows my mind. I can't believe these trainers even have a following. The fact that the horses learn anything at all is a tribute to their intelligence and adaptability. Much of it is no better than the old "tie 'em down and buck them to a standstill" method from years ago.

They are not all bad, these trainers, but let your heart decide whether you want your horse to be exposed to these methods. Horses are extremely smart. They don't need painful repetition, they don't need to be terrorized into a "safe place." Once a horse understands a point, he never forgets. Make all your interactions with your horse as positive as you can, give him the benefit of the doubt. Horses are never wrong. Try to become his partner. If something negative happens, try again.

Horses are very forgiving. Reinforce positive - and avoid negative - situations, if you can. If a horse doesn't stand without ripping out cross ties, groom and tack up in his stall. Find the easiest, safest ways for the both of you in all dealings. Don't set the horse up for failure. Treat him/her like a beloved child. Show him what you want. Sometimes they need time to figure things out. You see that "aha" moment when they get it.

I was watching one well known western trainer as he forced a young horse to do a "departure into a lope, from a standstill, onto the correct lead, at the correct speed, with its head flexed behind the vertical, while giving to the bit to the left." Huh? I couldn't figure out what was going on, let alone this good horse, who was never rewarded by a release of pressure! This beautiful horse had no spirit left, he just gave in because there was no escape. He took the punishment and abuse because he was given no choices at all, until he accidentally landed on the right combination the trainer wanted. He was dull and broken. I had to change the channel. I could not watch anymore.

I'm not saying a horse doesn't need to be given a swat every now and then for an act of disrespect or foolishness (that is how they discipline each other, after all). Just stay within their rules. It's so much easier that way.

Horse and human partnerships must always be at least 51% for the human, 49% for the horse. That 1% for you makes you the respected head of the team. Use it to your advantage and have fun with your potential life mate and best friend. Your horse is capable of loving you all of its life.


cakemom 08-09-2012 10:07 PM

Not true in all cases....many a day you will catch my daughter plodding on that self same animal she jumps, ponytail bouncing and no saddle. As often you will catch the two of them sunning together, him grazing and her reading laying in his shadow. It's have to look for and foster it.
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boots 08-09-2012 10:08 PM

I don't see the horse world as gloomily as that author views it.

AlexS 08-09-2012 10:12 PM

There has always been abuse, and there always will be - but to say that the horse loving youth is gone, is simply not true.
This is propaganda at best to raise funds for a rescue I would image.

PunksTank 08-09-2012 10:41 PM

I guess I'd like to specify - this was written a few years ago, during a very gloomy time for our rescue - we had just lost a number of used up horses. I do agree the horse world is not so gloomy as how she put it at the time. I'm sure she'd also be less dismal about it today. It was not 'propaganda' if you read through the website you'll see a number of opinionated articles about the horse industry, yes it is biased, but when you devote your life to helping the horses thrown out by the worst of the equestrian community it's hard to remember there are good people out there. But I am amazed to see the numbers of girls who don't even know how to enjoy their horses!

At our rescue we have 14 horses who are completely unrideable, whether due to physical, emotional or behavioral issues they can no longer be ridden. But at the same time we have girls of all ages coming and devoting all their spare time just to love on these creatures! One of the girls was telling me today that at her riding school (she obviously rides elsewhere because we can't offer that for her) all of her horse-riding-friends are stunned and confused that she would 'bother' to come and spend time at the rescue, knowing she can't ride the horses!
One of the young volunteers has devoted 3-4 days a week for about 6 months now teaching our Very feral pony how to trust a human again. The girl is too grown up to ever be able to ride this pony, but regardless she spends all day sitting out front of the pony's stall or playing 'follow the leader' in the paddock with her pony (the girl is the leader, the pony follows her Everywhere). But she too, when she goes to her riding school is given crap about the fact that she's 'wasting her time' on a pony she could never ride! She has turned this pony who was so horrified of humans that in order for us to turn her out everyday we would have to make ourselves small and back up to her in an unthreatening way and grab hold of the short rope attached to her halter - and turned her into the love of this girls life! They are friends and partners - regardless of whether or not she can sit on the pony's back.

I am stunned to see people throw out horses that can no longer be ridden, or who can not ride 'up to their standards'. A horse is supposed to be your companion for Life - not until you get bored and want the next best model.
We are truly living in a disposable society, now even our precious horses are being thrown out and exchanged for 'something better'.

Now in saying this I realize this isn't always the case! So don't jump down my throat, I've heard a number of the sweetest life-partnership stories from a number of people. Unfortunately it is no longer the norm.

I also realize not all trainers are awful - but at the same time I see these poor animals who are trained to the level where they can't even move a muscle in their body unless it was asked for by their rider. People seek this out and drive for this - but honestly is this a partnership or a tyranny?
We have a gelding at our rescue who when we were young I'd plod along on around the field. He had been broken by a horrible human. The moment a human was on his back he lost his ability to think! If I (as a child) saw a bunny and looked in that direction he'd quietly walk himself into the wall that was between us and the bunny I was dazed looking at. Without thinking or questioning my judgement he would do as I asked. That's nice - but only really to a point! At what point are our horses trained too much? I like to call it 'trained helplessness'.

Again I realize this isn't always the case but it's a case I (at running a rescue) see far, far too often.

AlexS 08-09-2012 10:58 PM


Originally Posted by PunksTank (Post 1638607)
Again I realize this isn't always the case but it's a case I (at running a rescue) see far, far too often.

I can relate. I foster teenage human boys. 99% of the issues that they have come from their parents, it's really disheartening. But I have to believe it will get better otherwise there is no point in fostering these kids if they will all grow up to be the same parents their parents were.

The children who don't see the benefit in the child working with a pony who will never be ridden, I don't blame those kids - I blame their parents for not instilling better values.

We do live in a me, me, me society, and we need to try to overcome that.

bsms 08-09-2012 11:03 PM

Yep! My daughter & her high powered, cruelly trained horse...good thing she's beaten him into submission:

PunksTank 08-09-2012 11:07 PM

You're right - one girl at our rescue, her parents bought her a horse, then sold it because she 'loved him too much' they said, it was unhealthy for a girl to love her horse so much, she didn't have human friends. Well tearing this poor girl's best friend away nearly killed her, and did nothing to find her any human friends.

IMO having a relationship like that with Anything, an animal or a human, loving something so completely is SO healthy - it's so important to truly care about something outside of yourself, not more than yourself, but something else as well.

I admire you for fostering teenage boys - that sounds tough x.x

It is important to have hope for the future, but so often I find myself feeling more and more hopeless. Especially when being surrounded by the worst of the worst.

I definitely need more time in the light, but I do worry SO much because more and more I do see these people who just don't get it!

BSMS - thanks for your snark ;) I appreciate it. You're daughter looks like a doll! And the horse looks like a sweety. If you read my follow up you'd have seen that I do realize there are exceptions, I'm also not so dense as to not realize that not all things are black and white.

QHriderKE 08-09-2012 11:13 PM

My high powered, cruelly trained horses...

This was at least 3 years ago.

I am by no means a professionally trained rider. I learned to ride in stubble fields and on cattle trails in the pasture.
The days of horses and their girls are still around.

PunksTank 08-09-2012 11:16 PM

It's nice to see some of it is still around - please read my follow up - I still feel like I'm being attacked for what someone else wrote :P Again, I realize there are exceptions and not every horse is cruelly trained -.-' but I appreciate how seriously people are taking this story. I guess I was wrong to post it.

Just looking for a little hope.

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