The memory of pain.
As a child we might have the misfortune to touch a hot kettle or pot on the stove and burn our hand and forever remember that feeling.
That feeling will give us caution around similar situation for the rest of our lives as we transfer the memory of the pain to other circumstances.
The memory is lasting long after the pain is gone.
This is also true for emotional experiences in our lives as we encounter. Circumstances that stress our ability to deal a problem that is presented to us may cause great emotional pain and distress.
It can take a life time to overcome these events.
If we do not find a way to deal with these past troubles,then we are burdened by their load as we travel through our life and they may effect everything else that we do.
This has everything to do with training horses and how horses think.
They may catagorize things in a different way than we do but if something has not been a good experience,then it is to be avoided in the future.
The memory will stay until replaced by another or at least the pain is diminished.
How do you deal with this with your horse and is it at all important to you?
Can horses have bad mental health?
Excellent post. I can say with absolute certainty that horses CAN have bad mental health. My horse WAS a perfect example of this when I got him. He hated people, would bite, kick, rear, charge and was said to be dangerous, vicious and unpredictable. His experiences with people drove him to be like that, he found that being aggressive made people leave him alone, thus he was protecting his dignity, something that had been taken away from him on more than one occassion. He had no play drive (when interracting with people) and he had no try.
We also need to remember that bad mental health also shows in the horse's physical appearance. A dull coat, bad feet, mental issues such as weaving, cribbing, etc., bad attitudes, a tendency to get ulcers, etc. can all steam from bad mental health.
This issue was EXTREMELY important to me, and still is to this day with any horse I work with...what is his opinion of me? Am I someone he truly trusts and respects? Am I someone he feels comfortable enough with to express himself? Will he play with me? Will he try his guts out for me? Is his expression a happy one?
It's a great post. I already predict lots of arguing going around. Lol!
First of all I always care whether horse will have or had a bad experience or not. That means any kind of experience: too rough training, whip, trailering went not so good and all. What I am trying to avoid is to hide from facing the issues if the horse has a bad memory about something. I usually give little time and approach, say, trailer again. If I need new approach or help from the trainer then I look for it.
Can the horse have mental issues? Yes, it can.
I am a "lucky" owner of the horse with really bad experience as yearling caused by the man. I knew what I'm getting but even though I didn't expect it to be THAT bad. Took lots of time from her to start to be fine with people around, and even though she obviously doesn't like men much and more relaxed with the women.
Also I used to work with the horse (not mine), which was hit in head (and I suspect not just once) with shovel (or something like that). He even had couple permanent bumps on forehead. I spent over year, but he still reared any time someone would raise a hand next to him or just moved suddenly. Eventually this horse sent a rider to ER, and almost flipped over with me on his back, so I stopped riding him after that.
I sure hope my guy remembers being zapped by the electric fence and holds a healthy respect for it for the rest of this life.
I always always pick unbroke young studs, geld them immediately and thus don't have to deal with issues.
Mental health can not be cured only controlled through medication. What do you do for a horse??? You sell them and make a better choice.
My mom's mare Ginger I have spent years with working to get over her past instances. You could tell she was abused and handled very harshly. When we first got her it took me two hours to halter her and and then another two months realize the halter nor I was going to hurt her. But she still had the association of the halter with unpleasant stuff. So I'd halter her to groom and treat her.
When we got her she'd been turned out on pasture for four years and just bred to. Before that she had a cowboy wannabe type owner who was the one who abused her.
I was cleaning her stall once when she was eating in it. I picked the pitchfork up to toss some of the poo over the door and into the wheelbarrow. She spun around so fast and a hoof flashed about three inches to the right of my face. She was shaking too. So that's how I found out she'd been beaten with a pitchfork.
We are still working on her getting used to ropes. Like roping ropes. We were told her poll was dislocated with one at one point. She's a lot better and it's taken a while to get her to the point where she'll just have her back stiff and head up when I'm swirling it over her and laying it on her.
Oh and you can tell she was beaten with a whip. It took me a long time to get her to not bolt when I had a whip in hand while riding. I usually just ride with a dressage whip. She understands now that I use it as a cue not a beating stick.
There's a lot of other little quirks about her that stem from her past treatment. She's progressed far enough that I don't really do anything special for her anymore. We've got most of the issues worked out.
You just take it slow, remember what was done to them (or find it out), work on one thing at a time, and make sure to love on them a lot.
I always enjoy reading what you have to say. Your posts are always well written and give me something to really think about. I think you should write a book, if you haven't already. You're definately on my "favorite people" list for the horse forum ;)
I don't really have much to say about the topic. My mare and I have gotten through alot with patience and an open mind. I guess I was blessed with a relatively sane minded horse, despite some of the things she's gone through in her past. Her past is still a rather foggy area. All we really know is that she bounced from home to home untill she ended up, some how, with the woman who starved and mistreated her. There were many things that she was absolutely petrified of, including men. During the time we couldn't ride because she was too skinny, we worked extremely hard on ground manners. We tackled everything she was scared of on the ground. I honestly think all she really needed was someone to understand her and give her the training she needed. She is also now completely in love with my father.
It's hard for me to write everything she's overcome, but if you could see what she was like then, and experience how she's like now, you'd understand that she's a completely different horse. We went very slow and worked on one thing at a time. She's the coolest horse I've ever known.
Young people seem to have a special connection that we old fogies dream of.
I think that the older that a person gets,well they can become set and unyielding to the world and just get a bit sour about things.
I think horses see that or smell it of something.
It is sad that the longer that you live then there is more opportunity to collect bad (if you let it) and the burden can effect so many things around them.
A think horses can be like that too and the more they get passed around the tougher things can get for some of them.
It takes someone like you to come along and make a difference in their life.
you are all thinking like predators and how we think, not how horses think
horses live in the moment
am I being hurt or not
am I safe or not
survival comes first
extras are a matter of repetition and muscle memory
It's interesting enough though that mental sick horse I used to take care of owner did not want to get rid of. They didn't want to ride it either themself, but put people on him pretending to be great riders. Just to cool them down. I think it's very sick. Especially considering the fact the horse could kill them any moment.
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