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post #3171 of 3240 Old 10-11-2019, 09:52 AM
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I am loving, and living, this discussion!
Gottatrot needs to write a third book, about her observations and insights. I even have a title!
What you REALLY need to know about horses, our heroes.

I have always respected the horses personage. I think people who micromanage them are afraid of them, deep inside. Sooo many people, all so afraid...
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post #3172 of 3240 Old 10-11-2019, 10:09 AM
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...and Zeus would probably rob houses...

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post #3173 of 3240 Old 10-11-2019, 06:58 PM
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lol @egrogan ! Zeus would rob houses! He's trouble with a capital T, and anytime he is loose he is trying to find his way into the tack room, the container, or the house. I've truly considered letting him into the house, but one of the dogs struggles with her footing. It's like a fear thing for her on the laminate floor. So, I'm scared that he will come into the house and panic.

You guys would probably love cowhorse type competitions. You can't micromanage a horse in a cutting situation. Some people try, but they don't make it very far. You must allow the horse to make his own mistakes, try his own theories... you teach him the game, and the only way to be successful is if he loves the game. So, with this love of the game and an understanding of the rules, the rider must trust the horse to make the decisions himself. The rider is simply a passenger on a really fun ride. I've seen some people try and micromanage a cutting horse or a cowhorse, and they do alright, but they never make it to the top. They cannot compete with the best. If you ask me, their horses aren't happy either. They don't enjoy the game.

I think that a partnership is the goal. I am friends with my horses. Yes, even the ones who want to rob houses. I have a relationship with them, and although I am the one who makes the plan for the day, we complete that plan as a team. I must take my horse's opinions into consideration or my day is not a fun day. I think the people who micromanage horses are the people who micromanage people. I never did open your thread, but I am thinking that probably there are all kinds of people on it. Most probably are not the type who dictate every step, but there is always that type. I, like most horses, cannot tolerate that type of thinking. The bully intimidates me, and I will try to preform for a while, but if I decide I am done that is it. Probably a lot of horses are like I am. Actually, they are much better than I. They are forgiving and accepting and try their best. I think most people probably do.
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Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you? - Balaamís Donkey
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post #3174 of 3240 Old 10-14-2019, 11:53 PM
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Originally Posted by gottatrot View Post
Time to philosophize a little I guess.
I had to wait till I had the brainspace for this (last week wasn't good for that!) but now I've read it I just want to tell you I love this post, and the ensuing discussion.

The world simply isn't black-and-white. I would say we all operate with working hypotheses around here, as opposed to the more common thing of people operating with fixed mindsets. We're ready to modify our points of view as extra data comes in, and we actively look for data. And that's great, because even many scientists have confirmation bias and are avoiding thinking about data that doesn't support their current ideas... and I see less of that here, than I did amongst science colleagues, so take a bow, everyone.

I think part of that is that for some reason all of us are acutely aware of the complexities in the world, the limitations in human understanding and our own understanding, and that learning is never finished...

These things were subject to change. I think of my relationship with the horses more like a relationship with another person. If I think of it as leader/follower or dominance based, that makes my thoughts about it very one dimensional and shallow. To me it is more complex, and something that grows over time. To me it is more important to say, "What do I want to do about this one thing right now," rather than see everything as a black/white struggle to be in charge of everything.
Couldn't agree more...

I don't know how Hero views his behaviors, but probably he is like us and doesn't think deeply about the "why." When I took him for a walk yesterday, when we started out he did a little mouthing as if he was thinking about starting up some biting, and he leaped forward a couple of times. I didn't think "Oh no, he's testing me," but I wondered if he might be feeling insecure since he a) had barely been out of his field in a couple weeks, b) hadn't been handled by me for a while so wondered if everything was the same as before, and c) feeling nervous or energetic due to the fall weather and wind.
Yeah. And that whole "the horse is testing me / you" dogma is so unbelievably overapplied. It's like many humans think everything is always about them, and about "winning" - and that tells us more about the people who believe these things, than it tells us about horses, the world and general reality. They're always imposing their mindsets on what's around them, and not trying to see it from another perspective - such as the horse's perspective.

I don't think about things as respect or disrespect. When my horses are new to me and I bring them out into new, scary and distractable settings, they often bonk into me and I have to watch carefully to not get stepped on. Over time these incidents become less, but it's not because I establish dominance or correct them for not watching my space. Instead, it's just like what you'd expect with another person. As we move around each other more, they become aware of how I move (different from a horse), and the space I take up. Then they try to avoid me. We all have to experience working together before we can become better at it.
It's so nice when someone gets it!

And the thing is, this doesn't seem especially hard to me. It's not rocket science, it just seems like commonsense to me. Unfortunately, it's not common enough...

Eventually, like yesterday, when we walk through a rough trail through the woods and fields, I watch the ground while sometimes having one horse behind, or in front, or both alongside me. Sometimes both are on the same side. But we all are watching each other, the space and the terrain. When it is narrow, I often walk between the horses with one in front and one behind. Sometimes the front horse might drag me forward a bit, but that's good because I want the horse to push through the things that block our way and if they need to hop or step to get over something I can't see, that's important.
That's having your mind engaging with the environment, and its complexities, and putting yourself in the horses' positions as well. As opposed to operating dogmatically with. "The most important thing in the world is that the horse always kowtows to me because I'm so much more important than it or anyone else."

I also think different horses might do the same behavior for different reasons. A horse might bite you as a warning, or as a rough idea of a game, or because they are scared. Of course we can always reprimand a horse for a bite, but we might consider what it is that the horse needs from us. It's not always strong leadership. You can be as diverse in your place within the horse group as they are with each other. You might say "I'll let you own this one thing," while insisting that you have say in another. They certainly understand when you are insistent, but none of us have to insist that we "own" everything. I believe that would be unnatural to a horse, and make them view us less as a friend and more as some kind of evil dictator.
Again, couldn't agree more, thanks for writing and sharing this!

Originally Posted by bsms View Post
Can't "like" this enough. I left the thread after hearing, once again, how all I know is based on books. That was never very true, and much of what I say now is based on observing what works/does not work with my horses. And watching how they interact with each other - successfully.
Been there, done that too, and couldn't believe it when I first came across it on the open forum as a newbie here giving some (solicited) advice to a young person, when people who'd never in their lives trained their own horses from scratch, let alone to competition level, were telling me I was "ridiculous" and so was the notion that anything about horses or training them could be learnt from books.

@DanteDressageNerd reports getting frequent advice on how wrong she is and how little she knows from people who've never done dressage or trained their own horses from scratch. I am fed up with the interminable hubris of ultra-ignorant people. And, those are also the ones that usually rise to the top in organisations, and politically - because "shiitake floats" and because ignorant people love the confidence and "alpha-ness" of other ignorant people.

It has nothing to do with what I've read because almost every book and every video tells me I'm wrong. Just as the government and my PA tell me I'm eating wrong, although my PA was honest enough to compare my blood work from last year to this. She then told me to keep doing what I'm doing - everything in my blood work shows improvement and I've lost 27 lbs and still losing. She was willing to adjust what she has been taught to match the results, which means she has a real place in medicine!
Excellent - the PA is learning something!

Do you know that story about baboons (I think it was) and the washing of tubers? These young baboons in a wild group being studied by scientists had worked out by accident that the tubers they were digging up tasted nicer when they were washed in water to remove the grit. Within a very short time, all the young baboons in the group were washing the tubers. But not the adults - oh no, they had nothing they could possibly learn from the youngsters. Remind you of anyone? Often, humans only take advice from recognised "experts" no matter how wrong they might turn out to be - and they do it at their own peril. Instead of using their own minds for observation and inference, for doing things by trial and error, and learning from life, not from "authority"...

But to do that, people need to take responsibility for their own lives and thinking, rather than defaulting to parroting the "authorities" and then blaming them when they end up being shown many years later to be wrong about something - but never blaming themselves for their lazy lemming approach to life, and failure to make full use of their own capacities... Don't think and take a stand, just parrot and then you can sue someone later when they're wrong...

Oh and by the way, the most arrogant prats I've ever had to deal with when teaching weren't the A students - never the A students. It was the odd C student who didn't even understand the concepts properly, and appeared blissfully unaware of this fact, who thought they knew more than everyone else in the world...

At some point I have to decide to trust a book or an "expert" - and in horses, anyone who has ridden a lot of horses or owned them for decades is an "expert" even if their advice consistently gets bad results - or I can trust my lying eyes.

It is frustrating on several levels. This simplistic, "Horses are either leaders or followers" mentality is what several riding instructors have told me. It is what almost every book I own preaches - excepting Tom Roberts, maybe. And yet it fails the test I learned long ago in science: "Can your mathematical model PREDICT future results? If not, your model isn't good enough." So...you change the model's math. You do NOT insist reality change to meet your model!
Yeah, the reason I was drawn to Tom Roberts' manuals when I was training my first horse is because he is one of the few published horse people who used his own brain to try to work things out empirically, and because he felt it was supremely important to try to understand the horse's perspective when working with a horse - and because what he said was gelling with my own observations about horse behaviour, and teaching me more about it than I knew when I was 11 - but also always asking me to test these ideas out, to keep my own eyes open, to improvise. Observations, inferences, trial and error, respect for the horse as a horse. And this coming from someone who started training people to ride and working with the "problem horses" in the army at age 16 - someone who worked in the real world, not some esoteric specialty.

Reading what he had to say is very much like reading what the people in our little journal group have to say about their dealings with horses. It's based on the same sorts of things.

Love the rest of that post of yours and the discussion that followed and would like to say more, but I really must go do some work!

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Last edited by SueC; 10-15-2019 at 12:09 AM.
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post #3175 of 3240 Old 10-15-2019, 12:50 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by SueC View Post
I think part of that is that for some reason all of us are acutely aware of the complexities in the world, the limitations in human understanding and our own understanding, and that learning is never finished...
...That's having your mind engaging with the environment, and its complexities, and putting yourself in the horses' positions as well. As opposed to operating dogmatically with. "The most important thing in the world is that the horse always kowtows to me because I'm so much more important than it or anyone else."
Really good insights, loved your whole post.

Yesterday my sister and I ran the 6 mile (10k) run over this bridge.

It's the biggest run around here with over 3,000 participants. Very fun. I told my sister we don't know how to race, because we strategize but we never put it all out there. For example, I comment throughout, and sometimes holler stupid things, and if you're racing you don't have the breath or energy to do that. Our goal is to be somewhat comfortable, and enjoy ourselves, so we can still be doing it for many more years.

My talent is to be the pacer, and I take pride in my ability to maintain a very consistent time of our choice. My sister gets caught up with the adrenaline at the beginning and rabbits off. Then I try to pull her back, and she resists, and later she tries to pull me back, but I resist. We run together and then at the very end sometimes one of us pulls ahead. This time I finished slightly in front of her in 59:10. We were happy, 17th and 19th in our age division out of 237.

My point with all of this: you may notice the uphill on the bridge in the picture. It's almost 6% grade. Tried to train for it some, but it still made my legs cramp up. So today my legs are a little sore.

Today Cass and Brave's owner texted me to see if I wanted to ride at sunset. So I took Hero out for a ride, then met up with her and rode Cass. We did quite a bit of trotting, big trotting. My leg muscles were crying out "why are you doing this to us?" but it was so fun I didn't want to stop. We went a few miles. Cass is the Friesian cross, and his trot is so big. It was a toss up whether two pointing or posting was less painful, so I alternated.

For Hero, we continued working on going out to the beach alone. He did so amazing and I was extremely proud of him. We worked on being very calm, picking up the trot and canter on the way out whenever I asked, trotting on the way back and then walking quite a bit (to stay calm and not rush home).

Some people were acting strange in the dune grass, creeping up where there is usually no one. This made Hero zoom forward several times, so I got off and had him eat grass, then walk calmly near me. Our ride was short because I'm building him up gradually so he thinks "this isn't so far," and realizes it is easy and he feels good and confident.

I think he will be a good horse to go out alone with, fairly soon. He's quite brave, honestly. Didn't even flinch at the cars and barking dogs on the beach.

Cass' owner showed me a huge area on top of the dunes where it is all mowed with rolling hills, where she likes to ride when the tide is in. It will be fun to take Hero over there soon.
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post #3176 of 3240 Old 10-15-2019, 01:15 AM
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Out of left field, I truly think that this is an example of a piece of music which can teach you more about life and relationships, including with horses, than a whole swag of current "authorities" on such things.

Maybe that's because music engages more than just the cerebrum, and cuts to a more elemental level. Maybe it's the joy there is in harmony and play and learning things.

And the equines seem to think it's nice too. I had this CD on when Mary Lou and Sparkle came up into the house garden to keep me company and eat lavender clippings before, and they play with their ears and get crinkly happy-eyes when this stuff is playing through the window into the garden. It's not any old music, these two seem to especially like folk fiddle.
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post #3177 of 3240 Old 10-17-2019, 09:42 PM Thread Starter
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I've been thinking about risk assessment and how and why we decide certain things are safe or unsafe to do.

Obviously, it's a big part of our every day life, and something we have to continually assess and reassess. I think it's important to use logic in our choices, but "logic" is not always easy or clear, and as some have pointed out in this journal, research and statistics can often be skewed, or have too many variables.

Some things that have been driving my thoughts about this are recent accidents with horse trailers by a couple of forum members, reading about several runners that were killed by lightning this year, and it seems like several times when I wandered over to another forum that has a lot of sport horse reports, there were articles about riders severely injured and killed by rotational falls when horses fell while jumping.
Along with this, I was curious about how healthy or unhealthy it is to do more extreme distance sports like the Ironman triathlong, ultrarunning or even marathons.

It was interesting to read a couple of studies that seemed to show there is damage to the heart muscle after running a marathon, which recovers after about a week. But those who regularly run marathons or do extreme feats of endurance often ended up with scar tissue in the heart, so it seems that an extreme level of strain over and over is much less healthy. Not trying to make myself feel good about my own exercise choices, but the research seems to show that exercising at a moderate pace with 15-50 miles a week is extremely healthy, but adding more miles/time or a faster pace don't add to your health, and in the end might cause some health issues.

The older I get, the more I learn that balance is key to everything in life. Hurting ourselves more or being extreme about exercise is not really better than the other extreme of rarely getting off the couch.

Learning how to assess risk is something I am continuing to do throughout life. I don't want to limit myself by fear or undue concerns, and understand that accidents will always happen. Life is unpredictable. The fact that some runners have been killed by lightning this year probably doesn't mean running outside is too risky, but rather that it would be wise to consider the weather and go under cover if it gets stormy, even if you are in a race.

Always in the back of my mind I have had this fondness for the idea of doing more jumping some day. I've only jumped a little, and never higher than about two and a half feet. I've jumped enough to know that it's very tricky to stay on over a bad jump, and that it's not too difficult to jump on a horse that is good at it.

Lately, however, I've been considering that one of the most dangerous things that can happen with horses is for them to fall, and the worst accidents I've seen personally have been when horses fell with riders. When horses jump, it increases their likelihood of falling by quite a lot. I've been noticing that unlike many other things, the experience and training of horse and rider do not seem to make a terrible fall less likely.

I'm thinking that unlike some of the other things I consider and still continue doing, jumping is heading over to my list of things that are just too risky. Jumping is fun, but to me it's not more fun than many of the other things I do with horses, to the point where I think it is worth the risk of a bad injury to myself or the horse I am riding. I'm not saying I'll never pop over a log if the footing is good on a whim, but when I really separate out all my reasons for wanting to jump, I think there is a large component of ego in there, or me feeling like I would be a better rider if I could jump better.

Yet I know this is not always the case, since I've personally known several riders that did not have a strong position although they jumped higher than I ever have. The key was that they jumped on more predictable/auto horses rather than tricky ones. And even if it were...riding has to be about two circles merging: one being what is good for the horse, one being what is good for me, and what we do together should only be what is included where those two circles mesh together.
Ego has no place in horsemanship.

Ego can make us take risks that would otherwise be outside of what we might consider acceptable. But still there is the balance of having a quality of experiences, doing what you enjoy without limiting yourself by fear and breaking down what your motivations are. I'm sure many of you face these types of decisions all the time too.
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post #3178 of 3240 Old 10-17-2019, 10:26 PM
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Risk assessment is something to consider. Cash falls. He has gotten better, but for a long time there was the thought by many that he needed to go back to the holding pens. The risk was too high, because it is very dangerous to fall. I didnít know what to do and struggled for a while.

I wanted him to improve, and very luckily he has improved a lot. He still occasionally falls, but I like to believe it will only get better and better. I obviously chose not to send him back to holding, and I believe that was a good call on my part.

I enjoy jumping some. Bones is super fun to jump. Bones is also extremely athletic. Iím not scared to fall on him, but would I ever jump Cash? Probably not. Risk assessment does come into consideration for me there.

I do a lot of dangerous things. I guess I chose to live. Fear is a big issue for me, and I can see how it could keep me from doing anything. I would prefer to do many stupid things rather than be afraid.

Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you? - Balaamís Donkey
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post #3179 of 3240 Old 10-20-2019, 03:33 AM Thread Starter
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@SueC , can you play that fiddle piece? Great music. We're still playing the violin and cello often here.

Originally Posted by Knave View Post
I do a lot of dangerous things. I guess I chose to live. Fear is a big issue for me, and I can see how it could keep me from doing anything. I would prefer to do many stupid things rather than be afraid.
I like this so much. I think it's a good philosophy to err slightly on the side of being stupid than to err on the side of being too afraid to enjoy life.

Today I had a great ride on Hero.
If I have someone to ride out with regularly, I tend to not put in the work to get a horse really good at going out alone. Still, I'm the type of person who can enjoy riding just as much either way. There are challenges to going out with others, and there are challenges to going out alone.

I think Hero is going to be good at riding solo. I'm glad, since Halla was very enjoyable to ride alone, but Amore always struggled with the concept.

A nice thing about taking Hero out alone is that I can do the best ride for him, based on how he is feeling at the moment. If he struggles, I can easily get off and make things more positive, and this seems to be helping him a lot.

It was supposed to be windy and rainy all day. However, this afternoon things cleared off and the weather became a series of short squalls.

There are two things that are making working with Hero so much more positive than it used to be. One is that he is a horse that accepts and adapts, so if I do something consistently he no longer gets upset about it. The other is that he watches me and listens to me all the time now.

I was thinking today that if Hero improved as much in the next year as he has in this past year, I would put little children on him next fall.

Something I am really wondering about...how many horses that keep getting very worked up are having some kind of pain? It makes me wonder about Halla, if she did have some kind of pain I never understood. Nala is such a hot horse, but when I look at her back and her hooves, I could suspect she might have pain in either. I just wonder how much adrenaline makes horses work up super high from things that might just make them work up a little, if pain is involved.

For Hero, anyway, he can certainly spook now and then, but he is completely different in his attitude now. He doesn't get worked up and stay there, and his "up" is now like a 4/10 compared to a 8/10 before.

So today, I brought Hero down to the barn to tack up, and he just stood there and ate stuff, and didn't dance or paw like he used to. He doesn't mind the girth, or bridle, it all seems comfortable for him.

We went out, and he walked slowly but just kept going toward the beach without stopping. When we got into the neighborhood, one of those squalls hit. The wind whipped up to about 30 mph and it started raining. Hero stopped, I got off and led him for a bit, and let him graze every half block or so for a few seconds.
Last year he would have been very upset about all of this, and jumped around or tried to bite me. He actually was pretty contented taking bites of grass, and his eye wasn't pleased but he was resigned.

When we got close to the beach, the wind and rain really picked up, and he set his lip on me which was him saying that he should be biting me. But I said quietly, "No," and turned to see he was watching me intently. It was like he wanted me to know that he wanted to bite me, but he still was going to listen when I said not to. Since he is listening and watching now, I don't have to be loud.

Once we got down on the beach, the wind and rain died down suddenly. I got on and walked Hero, and he seemed to feel energetic so I asked him to trot and canter. Those he picked up right away. Nice and smooth, no bucks or even hint of one.
I wanted to go to the parking area where I rode with Cass and Brave recently. My idea was to go to that parking lot this time (about 3 mile ride round trip), and then the next time go farther to the trails.

Where the beach met the asphalt, there were several cars and logs and Hero stopped and wanted to turn around. So I got off and led him, and soon we found some grass to eat for a minute, and he became cheerful.

We went around the very large parking lot. There is a raised curb all along the center of where the cars parked.

After I got on, Hero stepped onto this raised curb, and then I asked him to step down a few times but he could not seem to figure out how. There were several cars parked, and a couple of them had people inside. We had to ride down the middle of them, all the way to the end, until finally Hero figured out he could step down off that curb again. He's been on curbs before but I guess it just looked different today.

I rode all the way back to the bottom of the dune, but then Hero looked up and could not find the courage to walk up it all alone. You can't see what might be waiting at the top, and I guess that's a bit scary. So I got off and led him, which seemed to make him happy, along with several pauses to eat grass along the way. I got on and rode the rest of the way home, and Hero was very calm and relaxed. We came across a group of 8 deer, but Hero is very good about not spooking if he sees something like deer, even if they boing around. Amore can see deer, but still get startled when they actually move.
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post #3180 of 3240 Old 10-20-2019, 08:03 AM
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I think with jumping, it helps to have a horse that is naturally swift on it's feet. I guess 12yrs ago when I evented I always looked at horses who were naturally surefooted and quick to protect and save themselves. I think the better a horse is trained and the more fit they are, it helps. As well as skill of the rider but falls and accidents still happen regardless of how well the horse is trained or how good the rider is. Once the fall happens, you're right it all happens the same.

I notice jumping is a lot of instinct and of course training and feel matter but I find with jumpers, people either have that talent or they dont. Nicolai (the former international GP jumper that rode Wonder and owns Ranja) had such an incredible talent and feel for horses. He can make horses jump brilliantly and WANT to jump with confidence that would never dream of jumping but something in him is able to inspire and make the horse confident. He said when he rides, the horse tells him how to ride. And I notice jumpers tend to do that more than dressage riders (my theory on why jumpers can ride Wonder but dressage riders cant get him on the bit or steer). A lot of dressage riders like to put horses into a box and are so locked into their system of how is "should be" that they never stand outside of the box. They're so busy trying to conform the horse to their model that I feel many fail as listening to the horse. Even ones that have been trained by top and olympic riders, they almost do it worse sometimes. People either have the instincts and feel or they dont, training and teaching can make it better but I find more and more people have feel and instinct or they dont. Jumpers seem to listen more to the horse and rely more on instinct. I find jumpers (the good ones) cooperate and listen to the horse more vs dressage riders often have an tell-demand system that I simply disagree with.

However I do see where people starting in jumpers go much too high, too soon and just run horses at fences and dont care about how unstable their position or poor their eye is. It takes a lot of work and training to become good. And I think a lot of horses enjoy jumping, as long as riders are fair. I think versatility is important.

Im really glad Hero is coming around and come so far this past year! I think with these guys it just takes time, especially if they have a past and history. You've done a lot of really good work, you should be proud of how far he's come. Especially if he's more confident and learning how to be secure in scary situations! I am however deeply jealous of your beach rides! I'd love to ride Wonder on the beach! Maybe next summer!
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