How to know who/what to believe - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 32 Old 10-05-2014, 11:00 AM Thread Starter
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Question How to know who/what to believe


I'm about as brand new to horses as one can be. I've been volunteering at a local rescue for a few weeks now and have taken my first riding lesson (at a separate facility).

I've had to come up to speed very quickly working at this rescue. I'm working with some serious horses, ex-racers, and they don't put up with much greenery. So far I think I'm doing pretty well. I can lead all the horses where they need to go w/o much fuss. I understand the basic idea of making sure the horse regards you as the leader.

I've been scouring the internet trying to educate myself on horsemanship in general and any knowledge I can get to make this job go more smoothly and to keep the horses happy.

As I'm sure you all know the internet is full of info, good and bad. It also seems to get grayer than that. Perfectly competent trainers seem to have very different opinions about various things. There seems to be some conflict about "natural horsemanship". One noted youtuber is all about natural horsemanship, all rope halters, bitless riding, etc. Aside from his misogyny (you all probably know who I mean now) he seems to have good information. But you can find videos that range from disparaging "natural horsemanship" entirely to ones that acknowledge it as an ideal but maintain that it's not always realistic. This is just an example.

So how do you know who to believe? Or maybe a better way of phrasing this is how do you know who to believe in a given situation? The woman who runs this rescue has been working with horses her entire life and I implicitly trust her but already I've noticed she does a few things that at least some internet folks would disagree with.

Trust me, the last thing I intend to do is get into this woman's face with "ohhh but xxx on the internet said do it this way." I just want to be educated enough to know when there are alternatives that can be applied to horses I eventually deal with outside the rescue facility.

Is there a book that acts as a "bible" of accepted horsemanship?

Thanks in advance
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post #2 of 32 Old 10-05-2014, 11:14 AM
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Experience & finding out what works best for you is your best teacher.
What works with one horse/person may not work at all with another. That's why there are so many opinions/methods. We never stop learning.

Asking 'why' will often give better answers than asking 'how'.
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post #3 of 32 Old 10-05-2014, 11:36 AM
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You can ask 100 different horse people the same question and get 100 different answers. Use your common sense and the answers that sound like BS throw out. Retain the rest and pick out the one that resonates with you the most and try it. If it doesn't work move on to the next you like best, etc...

There is more than one way to achieve a good outcome and this is an important thing to learn as a new student. I like to pick the brains of horse owners who have horses that I admire. Not for beauty but their health, attitude and level of training. A person who has a horse that does what the owner asks but doesn't do it willingly or because it's scared not to then I'm not so interested in what they have to say.
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post #4 of 32 Old 10-05-2014, 11:46 AM
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No, there is no definitive text. Every adviser is working from his own knowledge or experience which may be broad or may be limited in one way or another.

People use the same terms to mean different things and/or different terms to mean the same thing. Try to find out why a person says to do something a certain way and try to determine if their reasoning makes sense. Try to find consistency in what various people say. Realize that what works in one particular situation may or may not work in what superficially appears to be a similar situation. Try to determine why it might not have worked in the second case.

Experiment by trying different techniques or slight variations of a technique. Pay attention to subtle as well as less subtle reactions of the horse.

If there is a choice of more than one way of doing something, always try the kindest method first. That said, protect yourself in a dangerous situation.

Training riders and horses to work in harmony.
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post #5 of 32 Old 10-05-2014, 12:08 PM
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What type of riding are you learning? There is no such thing as an authoritative book, but there are some pretty well respected ones, depending on style.

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #6 of 32 Old 10-05-2014, 12:33 PM
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There is only one universal thing to always follow. Never rush or take shortcuts when handling horses as those are the times you are most likely to get hurt. Be safe, always.
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post #7 of 32 Old 10-05-2014, 12:37 PM
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When I start something new with horses, I always get around people who's horses I like. If they have horses that I would love to ride or own, and the people ride in a way that I would hope to, those are the ones I learn to emulate.
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post #8 of 32 Old 10-05-2014, 12:41 PM
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Read and watch as much as possible. Horses are like people - they have personalities, thoughts, opinions, experiences, memories, etc. A method that works well for one trainer you see in videos may not work well for the horse you have in front of you. The horse in front of you may do well with a different style, or need a little mixing depending on what you're doing. The horse in front of you may be stubborn with some things and terrified with some others.

Most people won't try to intentionally steer you wrong, but they can accidentally do so.
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* I'm often reading and posting from mobile and Siri loves to make a mockery of the English language.
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post #9 of 32 Old 10-05-2014, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by boots View Post
When I start something new with horses, I always get around people who's horses I like. If they have horses that I would love to ride or own, and the people ride in a way that I would hope to, those are the ones I learn to emulate.
Amen to this!!!!!!

Mark, very well-worded original post. I see success for you.

One thing I try to remember...If the horse is not "getting" what I am asking, then I must not be asking in a manner he understands. As a handler/rider you cannot allow the horse to call the shots but sometimes looking at it from what might be their perspective helps.

Good luck to you! Keep us posted on your progress.

If you ever find yourself in a fair fight, it's because your tactics suck. ~ Marine 1SGT J. Reifinger
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post #10 of 32 Old 10-05-2014, 01:20 PM
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every rider or trainer who has any advice worth taking has learned what they know over a fairly long period of time. it's cool that you are ramping up to speed so quickly and managing so well. that is commendable. jsut keep in mind that to be able to put into affect what you see the internet trainers talking about, or observe in real life from more experienced folk, takes TIME. there is just no other way. So, your confusion will sort itself out, in time.
gotta just be patient.
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