Trotters, Arabians, Donkeys and Other People - Page 59 - The Horse Forum
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post #581 of 2604 Old 07-06-2018, 12:12 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Australia
Posts: 7,862
• Horses: 3
I think that's a really good point about fear and control, @bsms . Conventional riding schools may work better for children than for adult beginners in part because children weigh less and bother horses less when they are unbalanced, and in part because children are often so delirious just to be on a horse's back, and so lacking in a sense of their own mortality, that they tend to have less fear than beginning adults do.

The very first horse I rode for my first lesson was a nearly 17hh Warmblood mare called Viola, who was a head-tosser on account of being uncomfortable in a snaffle - and who had wounded lips at the contact points, and should have been bitless at least until healed, and then tried in something different. I was barely nine years old and a bony little lightweight. Once I actually figured out a way to get on her back, I had a brief fright at how high up I was before falling off again within the same minute, as the mare trotted off tossing her head. Well, I do remember that hurt, but I got falling off out of the way in Lesson One, and the devil you know is less scary than an unknown devil. I was helped to the top of that horse again this time (probably just to ensure I got on again ASAP and didn't get much time to be apprehensive) and all I distinctly remember after that is how disappointing it was to trot, because of how rattly it was!

I was still a pretty green rider when I started riding the French mare less than half a year after starting lessons, and I think it was being on this fantastic horse that got rid of any last vestiges of fear to do with riding. I learnt to trust horses...

I also rode many hours on her by myself through the countryside, and later with my Arabian mare. I didn't tell my parents where I was riding to, or the distances. As far as they were concerned, I might as well have been doing laps of their farm, which I didn't like to do as it was consummately boring compared to proper exploration of the real world.

By that time, I no longer had a bicycle, because my father thought it was "dangerous" to ride bicycles around in Australia - even though he'd been fine with it when I was 6, and 7, and riding to my primary school in Europe like every other kid...

I got another bicycle donated to me as a mid-teen by a classmate who took pity on me. There was a hell of a row about it but nothing they could do because the bike wasn't kept on the farm. Funny you should talk about control... and funny how I have observed that people's psychological pathologies tend to transfer into their behaviour to horses and humans alike.

@egrogan , I see you skipped the intermediate step and went straight for the gold standard in transportation!
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Last edited by SueC; 07-06-2018 at 12:22 PM.
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post #582 of 2604 Old 07-06-2018, 01:10 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Australia
Posts: 7,862
• Horses: 3

@bsms , this reminds me of Expandafoam:

Except it doesn't seem to expand. Is it any good for fixing punctures?

Here's someone who mistook Expandafoam for hair styling mousse!

The luminous source and further information here:

Eastern European woman 'confuses builder?s foam with her hair mousse' | Daily Mail Online
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post #583 of 2604 Old 07-06-2018, 01:52 PM
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Vermont
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• Horses: 3
Originally Posted by bsms View Post
It seems it is all rooted in fear - OUR fear. And from the first post, it sounds like that is part of what Reken was trying to do - to remove the fear of horses. We fear, so we control OUR fear by insisting on total control of the horse. We solve our issues of worrying about what the power of a horse might do to us by insisting on total domination. Body control. How often have I read or heard that we need to be able to control exactly where the horse puts every foot - as though that is possible, let alone desirable?

I think a vastly better approach is trusting the horse. Yes, the horse will sometimes act in unhelpful ways. A huge part of learning to ride ought to be "How to stay on and not loose your cool when the horse does something unexpected"! But traditional riding is geared to preventing the horse from EVER doing anything unexpected, so the rider won't NEED to ride anything out.
I had to marinate in this part a little and come back to it, because it hit a little close to home. I am a somewhat nervy rider. Thankfully I have kind, forgiving horses who are easy to be around. But I have to admit that sometimes when Fizz (or Izzy in the past) gets my anxiety hormones pumping, I have reacted out of impatience and fear. I've jerked on a rein. I've given a hard poke in the ribs with my heels. And those reactions are about me feeling out of control and taking it out on them. I'm not proud of that. When my brain stays in the "thinking" zone, it's no big deal if Fizz tries to back up as evasion. I wait her out, let her circle once in the direction she thinks she wants to go, and then ask her again. Every time I've ever done that, she goes where I ask. It's when she is backing in a place that scares me (into another horse on a narrow trail, down a drop off) that I try to growl at her or give her a kick, and that just makes her back up faster.

I of course beat myself up overanalyzing these moments after the ride, and try to understand what I'm afraid of. I'm afraid of falling because it hurts, sure. For a long time, I was terribly afraid of the horse falling on me, and that happened this winter when Fizz fell on the ice. It was as scary as I imagined, but we fortunately both walked away (even though my legs were shaking!). She wasn't doing anything wrong though, and there was nothing that I could have done differently when that happened.

What I can't understand for myself is why sometimes she does basically the same exact behavior and it pumps up my anxiety while other times I can just laugh at her, roll my eyes, and keep going. Maybe it's ultimately unpredictability that is the most anxiety producing thing for me. It's hard for a control freak to suddenly end up feeling out of control...

@SueC - I thought you would appreciate this little wonder of nature unfolding in my yard and pasture. In the past week, these brilliant little wild strawberries have appeared everywhere. They are very tiny- maybe the size of a currant or small raisin- but they are the most strawberry strawberries I have ever tasted. You only need to eat one or two of them to be filled with the taste of strawberry long afterwards, like you ate a whole box of the stuff you get at the supermarket. They are hard to see down towards the ground under the long grass, but I have been walking around with my eyes to the ground to try not to miss them!
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post #584 of 2604 Old 07-06-2018, 05:51 PM
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: southern Arizona
Posts: 12,251
• Horses: 4
There may be fearless young riders, @egrogan . I doubt many adults are. I did a LITTLE riding when I was 20 and don't remember any fear...but age teaches us our mortality. It teaches how much things can hurt. When Mia was scared, she lost all thought of her surroundings. Stuff right in front of her? Yes. But things to the side or behind? She'd be backing fast toward a 10' drop, and I learned to pull HARD on the left rein (she turned better left) and spin her to face the cactus or drops she was about to take us over. THEN she would stop. I never had time to be scared DURING, but afterward?

I've jerked reins, cussed up a storm, kicked, had tantrums even. Mia scared me a lot of times. I don't think anyone behaves very admirably when scared. Maybe heroes do, but I wonder. When I was shot at (badly) over Iraq, I wasn't afraid. It was like being in a movie to me. I was curious about the ending, but not afraid. Over time, I realized that was a liability. Not something to admire. I read too many accident reports of guys still troubleshooting as their aircraft hit the ground. People would wonder why they didn't eject. Toward the end of my career, I understood. They were too much like me, curious about the ending but not really responding with an APPROPRIATE sense of fear. It is a flaw.

Horses are different. Horses have scared the daylights out of me, although bad things always seem to happen so fast that I mostly end up being afraid at the memory. And in the memory of my fear, I let anger take over. In my case, even after there is no reason for it. But riding has scared me more than I ever was flying.

What I heard during lessons and read in books seemed to focus on my controlling my horse, that where he puts his feet and how he moves is MY responsibility. I think that is a false teaching. And since it is false, it creates a disconnect that causes me fear. Because I know, in my heart of hearts, I cannot truly control any horse. I now think my responsibility is to try to teach him, incrementally, how to handle more and more things. My job is too keep him from being overwhelmed until we both have both built up to handling the problem.

I understand when people say you cannot trust a horse. But I also understand I must trust my horse. I'm not certain how to reconcile the two, though...
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Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #585 of 2604 Old 07-06-2018, 09:09 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Australia
Posts: 7,862
• Horses: 3
These posts are just amazing reading, @bsms and @egrogan . Thank you for sharing those experiences and thoughts. Chores to do and sun is shining, so goodnight to my US friends now and sleep well, and dream of nice rides!

PS: We had wild strawberries in Europe and it's exactly as you say, @egrogan ! Enjoy enjoy enjoy!

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post #586 of 2604 Old 07-07-2018, 01:56 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Australia
Posts: 7,862
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This poem seems pretty topical here, so I thought I'd post it.

The Road Not Taken
Robert Frost, 1874 - 1963

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

From The Poetry of Robert Frost by Robert Frost, edited by Edward Connery Lathem.
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post #587 of 2604 Old 07-08-2018, 11:18 AM
Green Broke
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 4,950
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You're supposed to spray the cheese on crackers. Since I'm lactose intolerant and can only eat real high fat cheese, I've never tried it. I imagine it has a lot of of chemicals in it and is probably not good for you as is the case with most processed foods which are in abundance in the US. I suppose my German heritage is coming through here, we love real food :)

Oh thank you kindly for the invite, I'll be sure to stop by if I ever get to that item on my bucket list.

We have a lot of barn sitters in the area who cover for barn owners when they go out of town; but give your remote location it's probably not that accessible to you.
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post #588 of 2604 Old 07-08-2018, 05:48 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Australia
Posts: 7,862
• Horses: 3
@frlsgirl , maybe when we no longer have a special needs horse, we can travel again with a sitter.

For the last four years we've been doing lots of TLC for our ancient gelding Romeo (almost 34) - those twice a day huge bucket feeds to mix up and get the moisture just right, for which he comes into our garden and then stays as long as he wants, and making sure he has the right rug on for conditions, since he is like a hundred-year-old human and needs help with regulating his temperature. But he's so happy, and still in reasonable condition, so we can't bring ourselves to put him down, not while he is still going around with a big smile on his face.

And that smile just got bigger because we bought him a new snuggly winter rug this week. The old one was getting leaky and worn, and I noticed he had cold hip bones under it. The new rug doesn't let a drop through and the quilting is super fluffy, so now everything is extra toasty, and he loves it! He's such an expressive horse. He's always putting his head on my chest for a big bear hug and he's a big cuddlebug. Just loves being brushed, and turns this way and that to tell me where he'd like more brushing.

Such a character. And he's always going around the house windows looking into them to see where we are!

Morning Pleasantries I – Red Moon Sanctuary, Redmond, Western Australia
by Brett and Sue Coulstock, on Flickr

Morning Pleasantries II – Red Moon Sanctuary, Redmond, Western Australia
by Brett and Sue Coulstock, on Flickr

Morning Pleasantries III – Red Moon Sanctuary, Redmond, Western Australia
by Brett and Sue Coulstock, on Flickr

So what sorts of cheese can you eat? Is mozzarella too lean? Is Parmesan OK? Swiss cheese?
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post #589 of 2604 Old 07-09-2018, 03:31 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Australia
Posts: 7,862
• Horses: 3
A Walk With Julian

Julian has been with us for over half a year now and is doing very well. He loves all the space and his social group, and actually grazing fulltime! He also loves discovering new things in this world. That's why he is always looking around at this and that, and going up the tracks a fair way by himself, and further if his friends come along.

It's also why he followed Sunsmart and me up the central sand track a few weeks ago when we were riding - with Chasseur in tow. A noise at the end of our track startled them so they ran back that time. Ongoing readers of this journal will know that he followed me up the track recently when I was going to the horse graves with flower seeds:

He's constantly coming up to us to check out what we are doing when we are outdoors. Here, the donkey girls decided to join in:

So this is a photo of an ambidextrous, simultaneous ear scratch for Julian and Mary Lou, with Sparkle saying, "I'm here, what about me?" and the dog hovering jealously in the background - sometimes you'd have to be an octopus...

We have a long weekend this week, and this lovely sunny morning, Brett and I were embarking on a walk around the farm trails with our dog, when Julian intercepted us with interest and exchanged pleasantries. On the spur of the moment, we decided to take him with us. I just clipped him onto the dog lead and off we all went, up the central sand track into our bushland reserve, and I was explaining to him that today he'd get to see the very end of the track, and the secret meadow there near the gates, and then we'd take him around the swamp track, which he'd never seen before, and then he'd know where these tracks led and how to get back to the pasture, for any private jaunts around the place he might be planning.

The donkeys do it all the time, but the horses haven't gone right around to the back of the property and around the swamp since my Arabian mare died. Julian, however, has been very interested in the tracks, and on several occasions has led at least one friend nearly to the back gate before coming back the same way, presumably because his best friend Chasseur is too chicken to want to explore where all these bogeymen surely live in the bush.

Julian himself was an unflappable yearling, and when he was a young horse in racehorse training, the first time he saw an emu, he tried to race it down the training track (where it happened to be running too) instead of spooking away from it, and that was always his standard reaction. I co-educated him in long-reining and cart breaking, and later strapped him for races, when back visiting at my parents' place on holidays or weekends. I even picked out his name, simply because it was such a logical suggestion that it just stuck: Classic Juliet's son, and Romeo's nephew, simply had to be Classic Julian. And after all, Julian Lennon's Salt Water was getting a fair bit of airplay back then, so that kept this lovely name floating in the foreground of the names memory.

Names had been a bit of a sore point. My parents had named a mare Teen Force, for goodness' sake, like some kind of 1970s adolescent superhero gang, or a teenage boy band. And ridiculously, their most successful horse, a lovely chestnut stallion whom I refer to as Chip, they registered as More Chips. But then, Australian Standardbred names are often nothing to write home about; they are frequently mis-spelt homophones or weak puns, like Hezavillain, or, from a current race programme, Tellmetoattack, Ella Gant Player, Gotta Xcellerate, and Hy Leexciting - have you ever heard so much tripe not coming from a parliament? Has it never occurred to these people that horses are beautiful creatures and shouldn't be stuck with such tacky monikers? That they deserve real names, not the best efforts of a drunk Scrabble party for people who failed spelling?

So anyway, Julian came walking with us today, and he's such a good horse - walked along exactly next to me, no pressure on the lead at any point, calm and companionable and very interested in his surroundings. It reminded me of the times I led him around the warm-up track at the races, which is what I used to do when he came off the horse float and needed to stretch his legs for a bit before tacking up for the race. I was there the weekend he won his first race, at his second start. I actually am not a fan of horse racing in general, I like more complex and communicating equestrian pursuits rather than just going around a track as fast as possible, which seems such a hamster wheel to me. But I love the horses, and Julian was and is no exception.

Julian is just such a pleasure to work with, and so interested in working, so we have decided to take him along regularly now, twice a week at least, when we walk the dog. He enjoyed his discovery tour today, and when we came out on the Middle Meadow from the swamp track, and he knew where he was again, I unclipped him, and he was aware that I had, but he just kept walking with us, dropping his head to graze every now and then while we waited in the sunshine keeping him company. That's what he does, if there are people he doesn't run straight back to the herd, even though he is herd leader and really loves his best buddy, and likes all the others in the horse-donkey group.

I'm playing with the idea of saddle training him; that's no big deal with an ex-harness horse who's been there, done that, and I think he would enjoy the outings. Only thing is, I don't have time/energy to ride two horses really. Maybe I could if I got up earlier. Anyway, taking him on regular walking tours of the surrounding areas will be an excellent start.

I'm so glad he is not alone in this sand hole anymore:

Now he's got grass and space and friends all the time.

And I'm so glad about that. I don't know if many people understand the sheer pleasure of just having horses around, that's not dependent on riding them or winning prizes. I do love to ride, but love having them around even more, sharing our space.

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post #590 of 2604 Old 07-09-2018, 03:53 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Australia
Posts: 7,862
• Horses: 3
Image location for sand hole photo, for those whose browsers aren't showing it:
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donkeys , free-ranging horses , french trotters , life & the universe , riding standardbreds

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