How long does it take to ruin a horse?
A week at the outset. And can be accomplished in a couple of days.
I've seen well trained, respectful horses, that would hard tie, behave under saddle and on ground, who never backed an ear, or made a threatening gesture, turn into completely dangerous animals in just that little a time frame.
An owner/handler who allows horse to get away with murder, who tiptoes around them and overlooks any sign of aggression from the horse.
I've seen a mare that I handled every day, that was NO trouble at all, could hard tie her for hours, and she would go to sleep, could groom her, pick up her feet, tack her all without any problem. This mare was 8 and shown all her life basically.
Goes to owner's barn, where handlers are A) into the "oh you are so sweet" mindset, or B) totally new with horses and into the kissy kissy feed treats game.
In one week mare had turned into a complete idiot that was fast becoming dangerous.
Actually sat back on crossties, and flipped herself because was being tacked up.
Every horse in that barn acted that way and it was for no other reason than horses were spoiled and not made to mind.
Every horse that I have been around that has had problems? 99% of them are because the humans around them either had no idea what they were doing, got mind melded into "oh my horsey loves me" set, or ignored the common sense of others around them.
In some cases, horses ended up going down the road because the owner had ruined them to point of no return, and in others, horses ended up seriously injuring owners, or killing them, and ended up paying the price.
Horses can kill you in a Georgia heartbeat. They will not think "Oh, I shouldn't have done that" as much as "I showed them!"
And nothing more aggravating to sensible horse people than to watch someone continually doing something stupid with a horse, who then asks for advice because of problems they are having, and who then proceeds to tell you why your advice is wrong.
I am not going to play games with horsey, nor am I going to stand and try to read mind as to whether or not little horsey feels like working that day. And I am not going to put up with any attitude at all from a horse.
They aren't dogs, don't care if you show up or not, as long as there is feed, and would just as soon run you down as look at you if they know they can.
In a heartbeat. Horses are better at reading people than the highest paid shrinks. If the person isn't a good leader the horse may promptly take over and do as it pleases. This often leads people to think the horse was abused.
Much of what you say is true!
I have a new livery here a week. I went to collect the horse which was turned out in the field. He came to call, haltered easily but once out the gate he started to barge, no respect for nervous owners space at all.
Owner was worried. I offered to take him and warned that if I did then he would be in so a shock.
I took his rope, gave him a whack across the chest with the rope, which was then threaded over his nose. One hard jerk and I had his attention. Leading was not brilliant but it was under control.
Next day when the owner went to change his rug he was barging around and feeble attempts to correct were useless.
Before she went to the field to turn him out I gave her a chain across his nose, when he started to barge she (on my command) gave him a hard jerk. His head went up and he looked at her as if to say "Ouch" and walked nicely alongside her.
We spent 20 minutes in the arena stop, start, back and moving away. Owner was so happy to have control.
No problems to and from the field.
In the stable he would barge to the door. Pushing him back meant owner had to push with her shoulder. Enter a hoof pick. Point in his chest and he moved back straight away. I explained about not letting him move at all and if he did then he was made to go back further than he moved.
In less than a week he is now standing untied for a rug change without moving. He moves when asked in the stable. Does not try and snatch his food.
The owner has learnt the importance of consistency, of taking charge, of not being frightened of being tough.
The horse is happier for having what are, at the moment, tight boundaries, these can widen when totally established.
Owner is surprised at how she suffered his ill manners for so long and even more surprised at how easy it has been to reform him.
These people rarely want to compete, they are 'happy hackers', they let the horses get away with things because they know no better. Once it is explained and they are taught how to get these manners, generally they are only to happy to become the leader of their horse.
I work at a stable of 30-odd horses once a week, and I see lots. One of the horses there, you are not allowed to touch, not allowed to talk to him in anything other than drill sergent voice, and punish everything with a punch to the nose. On the other hand, we have a horse that they allow to roam the aisles, free, to nibble everyone's hay. I tend to go for a happy medium- no barging, no biting, no kick, but I do pet them when they do well and reward them for working. After a 30min-1 hour ride, I give the horse a peppermint. All the horses I treat like that won't run away in the pasture, both the horses before do.
I have to admit, I do put up with a certain amount of ill manners while feeding, but only from the 41 and 37 yr old. Even then, I only tolerate a nudge. I'm trying to teach the 1 1/2 year old to back off while I pour feed and not pin my arm or bite. Owner's response? I'm being cruel and no longer allowed in stall. I have to stretch my arm out to pour in bucket, leaving it vulnerable to bite/ram/breaks. :?
There are many ways to "ruin" a horse,not just spoiling it on the ground.
You can haul incessantly on its' mouth, bang mindlessly on it's sides, run it up every hill, allow it graze anywhere it has a mind to, ride it in a painful saddle. keep it in a tortuous tie down, you name it.
You can ride it with no finesse, forget to offer any kind of release when it is earned, use conflicting aids, and more. make a well trained horse become a lug on four legs.
It's kind of like the more highly trained a hrose is, is like a very sharp blade; it dulls easily if you don't sharpen it regularly and use it with respect.
Great old story about this in a book called (I think) Horse Tradin' a collection of true stories, about 50 years old now. The story is titled, "The Easter Lily," and it's about a beautiful dapple grey mare who doesn't make a wrong step or misbehave as long as you ride her in the turnout, but would try to kill you if you leave it. The cowboy (author) buys the mare and drags her home while riding his good ole' mare, "Beauty". The "evil" mare drags her feet, falls over as if in great pain, when they stop for lunch at a small town...with spectators, etc. When he gets her home, he feeds her solo, and works her to listen, then finds the original owner. He gives the mare to her with the caveat that she'll move her mare so as to not let the BO continue this scam.
I wish the numerous spoiled/ruined horse stories we read could be laughed it as much as this story. =/
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