Trotters, Arabians, Donkeys and Other People - Page 33 - The Horse Forum
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post #321 of 2159 Old 09-23-2015, 09:17 AM Thread Starter
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A re-post from another thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms
I cannot speak to those who compete with horses. But for those more interested in trail riding or even just arena riding for fun, getting a horse who feels free to talk with you, who interacts with you and who is engaged in what you both are doing together - THAT feels like 'horsemanship' to me. Not just riding, but understanding and interacting with the horse. Teaching the horse confidence with humans. Getting a willing partner instead of just an obedient servant. To go from being the command center to the coach...


My reply was:

We started with arena and trails for fun 35 years ago, with our family's first two horses. (Dad had ploughed with horses as a young boy, and been taught by the farmers he worked for in order to help support his family during the war, when his father was in a Siberian prison camp for years, to drive carriages and ride bareback on the carriage horses as well.) This was exactly our ethos, and it seems it's a far more common ethos in Europe than in Australia or the US. Lisbeth Pahnke-Airosto sent me a recent copy of Ridsport (Swedish horse magazine) for which she wrote some features. She and her team have just finished arranging the 2015 European Championships for ponies in Showjumping, Dressage and Eventing (and Lisbeth was happy that the Swedish got the bronze medal ). She also pointed out to me an article on horse education written by a Bulgarian trainer she works with, and I'm not surprised that all the photos show happy, relaxed horses and humans who have a very obvious affection for their horses (the biggest photo shows the trainer and horse cheek to cheek with the most marvellous expressions on their faces). Now I just have to translate what he's actually saying from Swedish to English!

Anyway, Lisbeth Pahnke-Airosto wrote a very influential and educational series of horse novels based on her own experiences, that guided and inspired many young riders in Europe, including yours truly, from the 1970s onwards. It was this very ethos that was embodied in her books and that she passed on to many of her readers. Lisbeth Pahnke-Airosto can speak to this ethos working wonderfully in competitions - Showjumping has been her personal favourite. And our family can confirm that this ethos also works marvellously in competitive harness racing, which my father has now done for 30 years (coming runner-up in the Triple Crown Classic with his very first horse as a qualified trainer-reinsman back in 1986, and having had a row of successful horses over the years). I can confirm it works marvellously for competitive endurance, ridden gymkhana events like barrel and bending races, and dressage and horse shows, which I participated in with my late Arabian mare, who was the first horse I trained from scratch, and educated to saddle and harness according to this ethos... which was an ethos that was also shared by my instructor in the European riding school where I learnt to ride at the age of nine.

Nobody I knew in Europe ever did "join-ups" or anything like that, and we've never done that either. The European style of training is very different. It has a spectrum ranging from kind to cold like anywhere, but in my youth I was surrounded mostly by people with the kind approach, who, it was my observation, never seemed to have the same sorts of problems with their horses as the ones who didn't seem to prize making a genuine connection with their animals, and who were in it mostly for ambition.


I'm just going to post the two photos that went with that baby-sitter quote bsms has been citing, so people can see for themselves what that looked like in harness education:

This is my father and me in the mid-1980s training Classic Juliet to go in the cart when she was somewhere between one and two years old, which is the usual age we were getting young horses used to a cart.



At the critical stages we always had two people with a horse. Here I elected to drive and dad to lead. This was her first lap around the sand track with a driver. She'd been long reined extensively in preparation and had been familiarised with the cart. Next stage after this would be my father driving and me babysitting at the head, without a lead rope, just for the horse's confidence. The person at the head got pretty fit!



If you think about it, the babysitter who continued to mentor from beside or in front of the young horse was taking exactly the same physical, and psychological, position as the mother of a foal will. We found that this helped the young horses' confidence no end, and they soon did independently what they had been taught initially with their babysitter present - just like in a herd learning situation. (In a herd, the inexperienced horses will never be pushed to the front in a scary situation - they will be shielded by their mothers, and other mentors. Yet many humans will, unnaturally, push the horses to be the first when there is a scary situation...instead of protecting them.)

I make a similar argument about the helpfulness, in certain situations, of getting off a riding horse and adopting the same physical and psychological position when dealing with something scary or new. I always find the horse really relaxes if it sees me touch the thing of which it is so frightened. Pretty soon, in most cases, if you give it time and are relaxed about it (and don't try to
force the horse closer), the horse will be approaching and sniffing the scary thing itself.

Italicised parts were excerpts from the original post. To me, of course, this is all second nature and makes complete sense in a way that some of the ideas I've seen on horse training really do not. Some of them seem to completely ignore that the horse is a sentient being with intelligence and dignity, and no less an intrinsic value than a human being actually (although many people subscribe to the humans-as-the-pinnacle-of-life idea...well, I don't, and as a result of not looking at horses with low expectations, I see how magnificent they actually are).


Discussion here:

www.horseforum.com/member-journals/bandit-cowboy-bsms-muddling-through-together-622121/page2

It's nice to see the level to which some of the journal discussions around here have been rising!

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post #322 of 2159 Old 09-26-2015, 10:32 AM Thread Starter
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Since we live in an area of scenic beauty, I often post photos of our hikes and climbs on this journal. Here are some recent photos from the Kalgan River walk (3h, 12km, twisty-turny uphill-downhill):


Brett at the rock pools at the start of the walk.



Old stone house on the river bank.



Brett amongst typical streamside vegetation.



The dog always enjoys our bushwalks (when we're not in National Parks, where dogs aren't allowed).



I also enjoy the walks, and they're getting my fitness back to pre-bronchitis and pre-building levels. Before building we used to walk seriously for hours every weekend, and do small strenuous walks or cycles several times a week.



I love our dog, she's such a hypercharged canine, hardly stands still!



She spent a fair bit of time in the water as well - she swims like a hydrofoil, with her chest lifting out of the water and leaving a giant wake behind her. All the dogs we've had enjoyed swimming, but none was so lightning-fast in the water...



I love the one ear up, one ear slightly tilted thing going on with our Jess!


...my horse also thanks me for working on my fitness, it makes me a better rider.

I kind of burnt out several times over the past five years with unrealistic schedules coupled with a strong work ethic. I am now learning that I actually do have to take care of myself first so I can properly attend to the things I have to do (and don't have to do all at once).

Does this strike a chord with anyone? How old were you when you learnt this? (My husband was born with it! )
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post #323 of 2159 Old 09-29-2015, 01:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SueC View Post
I kind of burnt out several times over the past five years with unrealistic schedules coupled with a strong work ethic. I am now learning that I actually do have to take care of myself first so I can properly attend to the things I have to do (and don't have to do all at once).

Does this strike a chord with anyone? How old were you when you learnt this? (My husband was born with it! )
Ummm, I'm still trying to figure this out. I do take care of myself but my ambitions often exceed my self-care measures, if that makes any sense? There are just so many things I want to do! I just always feel like I'm going to miss out on something if I don't keep pushing myself. Maybe I'll settle down once I hit my 40s
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post #324 of 2159 Old 10-21-2015, 05:05 PM
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Sue? Hello? You've been unusually quiet. Hope everything is ok.
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post #325 of 2159 Old 10-21-2015, 05:51 PM
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Yes, I sent Sue a PM a few days ago but haven't heard anything. Hopefully she's just busy...
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post #326 of 2159 Old 03-20-2018, 04:09 AM Thread Starter
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This journal has apparently been re-opened - testing!

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post #327 of 2159 Old 03-20-2018, 05:32 AM Thread Starter
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Well hello, old friends and general readers!

It's been a busy couple of years for me and so I made a priorities list and there weren't 40 hours in the day to do everything.

Of late though I've been thinking about continuing with the online horse journal. I've had mixed feelings about that - for a number of reasons. One complication is that I'm a professional writer, and if I blog something online and decide it's good, it really complicates being able to publish it in the "real world".

Another is to do with how I feel about the journal - there is one thing that really bugs me about it. Apparently it's a common phenomenon: The pressure to really sanitise how you talk about your birth family, even if it's a really unhappy family and atrocious things happened on a generally daily basis. I've got a good friend who blogs on mental health and trauma recovery and works professionally in that field, and we've spent a lot of time talking about these kinds of issues. And the upshot is: You've got to be honest, and you've got to tell your authentic story, not just the glossy version that avoids embarrassing other people who did things they shouldn't have. There is way too much cover-up of wildly unacceptable behaviour and playing "happy families" to the public, and it's actually hurting everyone who is still in these kinds of unacceptable situations, because it adds to the conspiracy of silence.

This journal really looked at two things: The past, and how I got started with horses, and how my birth family started racing horses - and the present, i.e. horsey and donkeyish goings on at Red Moon Sanctuary, the property my husband and I have together - with the occasional scenic side trip. The present story shall be continued, and I've got no mixed feelings about that.

As regards the past, there were a couple of times I squirmed when people commented about what a lovely childhood I had - based on the presented sanitised material that showed me growing up with horses. I did comment along the lines of, "Postcards always look better than the real thing!" - see right at the top of this page:

https://www.horseforum.com/member-jou...479466/page12/

That was putting it very mildly. I've no intentions of boring everyone with the nitty-gritties of an isolated and unhappy childhood in which the horses - along with other animals, and books, and poets, and musicians, and logical thinking and reasoning, and some good teachers at school - were what in many ways saved my sanity and gave me hope for the future - a hope that was indeed eventually justified, looking back from the other side of 40. I just want it on the record that things were not OK when I was growing up - and to send a big hug to anyone out there who went through awful things with the people who should have created a safe and nurturing environment for them as children, and an even bigger hug and "hang in there" to any young person who is still in that situation - please believe things can get better.

There is a lot of material available these days on growing up with toxic families - some of it is excellent. One of the things that's a common refrain is that the broken things in families often don't change - only you can decide to change, as an individual, and to become who you want to be, and to work on the dismal unconscious brain programming that comes with growing up in a toxic family. It doesn't matter how much you stand on your head and wiggle your legs, or bend over backwards - other people aren't suddenly going to be nice or to treat you with respect or to see you for who you really are instead of a projection they made - they have to decide to do that, and often they will not, for all sorts of reasons.

Any people versed in psychology who have read back over this journal will undoubtedly have noticed that I basically held up my father in some kind of heroic role, which is how I was conditioned to treat him as a child. It didn't sit comfortably with me as an adult to present him like that, because it is so far from complete. Yet if I hadn't then there would have been serious repercussions at the time - but those potential repercussions no longer bother me. And that was a trick and a half. And reading back over this journal, it's also really obvious to me that the parent-child relationship was in many ways reversed - with the child supporting the parent in their hobby and cheering them on - not vice versa - and the vice versa didn't happen in my childhood. Don't imagine that my parents went around taking photographs of me working with horses unless they were specifically cajoled into it, or that they cheered me on - they did not. It was my job to cheer them on. Well, I quit that job a while back. Energy and time are precious, and these days I'm more astute in how I allocate them.

So, back to horses.

I will update that extensively and soon.

In summary: Romeo is, amazingly, still alive and kicking and turned 33 late last year. He costs an arm and a leg to feed with special "porridge" we make up for him, but we didn't think that was a good reason to put him down. He's still enjoying himself way too much for that.

I'm still happily riding Sunsmart, and he's great. Unfortunately, we had to put down his mother late last year due to a pituitary tumour, aged nearly 28. Her brother Chasseur pined - well, they all did - but Chasseur in particular, because his sister had been his best buddy. What with ancient Romeo hanging around our garden a lot of the time doing his own thing, and me wanting to go riding with Sunsmart without piteous neighing and panicking from Chasseur, I needed a new paddock buddy and adopted Julian (referred to earlier in this journal) out of his 15 years of solitary life in a small sandyard, and he instantly buddied up to Chasseur, and all is working well again. Photos of all that coming up soon.

And the donkeys are all well, all three of them, and are enjoying Australian national fame by being having their exploits in print, and also being the current friendly face of Grass Roots magazine: https://www.facebook.com/GrassRootsAust/

And Brett and I are well too and enjoying life.

More soon!

Best wishes to all

Sue
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post #328 of 2159 Old 03-20-2018, 09:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SueC View Post
This journal has apparently been re-opened - testing!
You are back
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post #329 of 2159 Old 03-20-2018, 09:09 AM Thread Starter
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Well hello to you too, Swiss Miss! To what do I owe the honour?

Best wishes to you!
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post #330 of 2159 Old 03-20-2018, 09:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SueC View Post
Well hello to you too, Swiss Miss! To what do I owe the honour?

Best wishes to you!
Lol. I was lurking while you were still actively writing (before your "vacation" from HF), but was often wondering how you are doing
Was always in love with your house
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