Do Horses Enjoy Groundwork/Rides? - Page 3 - The Horse Forum
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post #21 of 24 Old 04-12-2016, 07:35 PM
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I think there are also lots of little things we can do to make our horses enjoy going out with us more. I make sure to try to ride my horses with other horses often rather than only taking them out alone. That way the natural "moving with the herd" instinct is satisfied. Sometimes I plan a very short ride that ends in some excellent grazing, where we stop and the horses eat some better grass than they have in their own pasture. Sometimes I go out in the field and just give the horses a treat, instead of taking them out to ride.

If horses are ever reluctant about going out, I make sure to try to figure out why. Once it was because I'd heard I needed to toughen up my horses' feet by building them up to riding on gravel. I learned that even though the hooves looked fine, horses and other animals won't willingly go for miles down human-made sharp gravel roads. You can go a half mile or so if the horse has good hooves, but more than that will make any horse sore. Even if you build up to it gradually. I bought hoof boots and the horses once again liked going out.

Another time my horse got too fat and didn't enjoy going out as much until she lost a little weight. I've also learned horses can be sore after vaccinations and can use a couple days off.
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post #22 of 24 Old 04-12-2016, 08:06 PM
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: southern Arizona
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Originally Posted by Smilie View Post
...If my horses lived in pens like yours, BSMS, they also would look for any opportunity to get out of them, appearing very eager to hit the trails!
Although Trooper is fine with my daughter, he never acts eager to go out. Cowboy gets along well with older women, but he doesn't act eager to go out. Bandit does. I'm sure it is partially that he doesn't like the other two horses, and they don't like him.

But yes, I believe he LIKES to go out. He acts like he is enjoying himself on a trail. Like Mia, he looks around and is involved in a way Trooper does not.

If he lived on 100 acres of pasture, he might well feel different. As I wrote, "A horse who lives in a lush pasture with other horses he likes may not be thrilled with riding."

But I also believe it has something to do with HOW a horse is ridden. I think the Austrian cavalryman was right:
"it loves to exercise its powers, and it possesses a great spirit of emulation; it likes variety of scene and amusement ; and under a rider that understands how to indulge it in all this without overtaxing its powers, will work willingly to the last gasp,which is what entitles it to the name of a noble and generous animal...

..Horses don't like to be ennuye, and will rather stick at home than go out to be bored ; they like amusement, variety, and society : give them their share of these, but never in a pedantic way, and avoid getting into a groove of any kind, either as to time or place, especially with young animals...

...and a little reflection will generally suffice to point out the means of remedying something that, if left to itself, would grow into a confirmed habit, or if attacked with the energy of folly and violence, would suddenly culminate in the grand catastrophe of restiveness..."
I think a lot of horses are ridden in a way that takes the life out of them. Bandit's previous rider told me to just "Push him up to" anything that scared him. And Bandit arrived here willing to go forward, but inclined to sometimes explode. He showed no signs of being convinced the scary thing was not scary...just that he had no choice.

I think giving him choices, and letting him tell me when he was afraid, and seeking for a mutually acceptable answer is teaching him confidence, and confidence is far different than just calmness! A horse who expects to get scared isn't likely to enjoy the ride. A horse who knows his rider will work with him if he is genuinely scared, and TEACH him things are not scary, is more likely to enjoy going out. Heck, I like jogging, but I wouldn't like it if I thought muggers lurked around every bush!

In the 1800s, a dressage rider, F Baucher wrote:
"Now, I ask, if before overcoming these first obstacles, the rider adds to them the weight of his own body, and his unreasonable demands, will not the animal experience still greater difficulty in executing certain movements? The efforts we make to compel him to submission, being contrary to his nature, will they not find in it an insurmountable obstacle? He will naturally resist, and with so much the more advantage, that the bad distribution of his forces will of itself be sufficient to paralyze those of the rider.

The resistance then emanates, in this case, from a physical cause: which becomes a moral one from the moment when, the struggle going on with the same processes, the horse begins of his own accord to combine means of resisting the torture imposed on- him, when we undertake to force into operation parts which have not previously been supplied. When things get into this state, they can only grow worse.

The rider, soon disgusted with the impotence of his efforts, will cast back upon the horse the responsibility of his own ignorance; he will brand as a jade an animal possessing the most brilliant resources, and of whom, with more discernment and tact, he could have made a hackney as docile in character, as graceful and agreeable in his paces.

I have often remarked that horses considered indomitable are those which develop the most energy and vigor, when we know how to remedy those physical defects which prevent their making use of them. As to those which, in spite of their bad formation, are by a similar system made to show a semblance of obedience, we need thank nothing but the softness of their nature ; if they can be made to submit to the simplest exercises, it is only on condition that we do not demand anything more of them, for they would soon find their energy again to resist any further attempts."
I wonder if too many horses become jaded. Cowboy was branded a poor horse for a beginner rider - rebellious and mischievous, bucking and bolting regularly. Yet used in a way he understands - trail riding with another horse - he is outstanding. My wife is starting to get interested in riding again, because she enjoys his personality and she feels very safe with him.

The rebellious horse is a caretaker horse - IF ridden in a way he understands, by someone who will work with his nature instead of trying to remove his nature. My wife rides 6 times a year, but he works WITH her on a ride...yet was the horse no one wanted because he was a jaded, bitter, resentful lesson horse.

The problem wasn't that Cowboy was a bad horse. It was that he was too good a horse to be ridden in endless circles as a lesson horse, by people who treated him more like an ATV than a thinking being.

When horses don't like to be ridden, it may be they just don't like to be ridden. I have no doubt some of them just want nothing to do with humans. That is their nature. But I also think a lot of horses don't enjoy being ridden because they are ridden without regard for their nature. Some horses thrive in the arena. Others on a trail. Some ridden with precision, others with free rein. But if one rides a horse contrary to the horse's nature, should it surprise anyone if the horse becomes resentful - the grand catastrophe of restiveness - as Cowboy did?

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #23 of 24 Old 04-12-2016, 08:33 PM
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Well, we are getting way off on a tangent again!
None of my horses are rebellious, whether arena ridden or out on the trails. Sure they seem to be enjoying looking at the scenery, but little short recreational rides are not really 'work'
Ride a horse several days in the mountains, putting in full days, and those horses are very happy when they get back home and can relax in their pasture!
We can also all agree as to what makes a horse arena sour
None of that translates into being able to sit down with your horse, and ask him as to whether he would like to work several days ina row, or stay in that pasture, eating green grass with buddies.
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post #24 of 24 Old 04-12-2016, 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Smilie View Post
...None of that translates into being able to sit down with your horse, and ask him as to whether he would like to work several days ina row, or stay in that pasture, eating green grass with buddies.
Nope. No way to know that for certain. But what I think we CAN know for certain is that there are things we CAN do to make being ridden more pleasurable to a horse.

And here is an example from a ranch:

Trooper's sire hated being ridden. For some time, he'd bite at anyone who tried to ride him. He'd buck and try to dump his rider - a college room mate of mine.

But when he got a chance to work cattle - really ROUGH cattle - he loved it. The rougher the cattle, the happier he was. He also liked being ridden LOTS of miles. When he put in 50 miles a day, he was a happy horse.

Once they realized that, they used him for the hardest work they had, and he stopped biting. Stopped bucking. Stopped trying to dump his rider. Because being ridden meant leaving a pasture...but it meant going for 20-50 miles, or being loaded into a trailer and going somewhere to work rough cattle.

He's dead now, but my old room mate has a photo of him on the wall, surrounded by a wreath made from his tail hairs. And the guy who told me, in college, that horses were just equipment will tell stories about that horse, and swear he has already ridden the finest horse he'll ever be privileged to ride! But the key was finding something the stallion really wanted to do. When the stallion viewed his rider as an enabler, rather than an oppressor, his attitude turned around.

Are many horses like him? Nope. But the cavalry officer cited before had ample experience with long rides, and he thought horses could be trained to look forward to riding.

Another cavalry officer, writing in 1916, rode his horse Kingfisher 580 miles in 28 days thru the deserts and mountains of northern Mexico, on half rations most of the time. With gear and supplies, Kingfisher was carrying 220-250 lbs total - and Kingfisher's weight measured just under 800 he was carrying 30% of his own weight. He said of Kingfisher:
"In this drive he had but little grain, and that corn which he had never before eaten, no hay and what dead grass he could get during the night...He negotiated the snows of the mountain passes, he sweated through the noon-day heat of the lower levels, and he shivered at night from the icy winds of these high altitudes.

He never showed any signs of fatigue, never lost courage, and was a constant inspiration to his rider. He lost but little flesh, always moved with a quick springy step with head and tail alertly raised, animated and watchful. In battle he was fearless, being quite content to keep on the firing line without fuss or objection."
Would Kingfisher have been happier in a pasture, grazing? Maybe. Then again, maybe some horses LIKE "...amusement, variety, and society : give them their share of these, but never in a pedantic way, and avoid getting into a groove of any kind, either as to time or place, especially with young animals..."

Horses are highly social animals. I think it is a mistake to assume that we cannot provide them with things they enjoy, even while "working". It seems to me too many assume horses cannot take genuine pleasure in being ridden - but does that indict the horse, or the rider?

BTW - when I got home from deployments and working 12+ hour days 7 days a week, I really looked forward to lazing around...but not forever. And I always preferred to deploy and do my flying in the real world, where it mattered, to doing desk work at home base. I was glad to get home and be with my family, but my family knew I was also glad to deploy and go do my job. I'm not sure horses are entirely different, although we cannot ask them.

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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