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post #21 of 29 Old 04-09-2017, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by JCnGrace View Post
I've seen a few supposed experts ruin horses and I've seen beginners do right by their first horse as well as what the article talks about. I think that new owners who want to learn, not to proud to ask for advice, are willing to listen to that advise and aren't too fearful to use that advise can do ok.
I don't think common sense and listening to horses can be taught. Certainly not quickly. But I was the person who started by buying some horses and keeping them. None of them starved. None of them turned mean. None of them became a nightmare - literally.

Mia had a lot of issues, and since I was totally new at the start, it took a long time to work through many of those issues. I traded her, after 7 years, to a guy who wanted her primarily as a brood mare, but who also enjoys her competitiveness (they like racing their horses informally). And when she isn't heavy with broodmare duties, she is "a kid's horse". She still spins hard sometimes, 1-2 full circles, for no known reason, and then looks back at her rider as if puzzled by what has happened. But she is still considered a kids horse because she is responsive and tries hard, and the very open country she now lives in agrees with her.

Lilly was a totally unbroke 6 year old Arabian mare. Yes, we hired a pro to "break" her, and to teach us about horses as she did so. Lilly was the horse my youngest started riding lessons on. She & Trooper eventually developed an intense dislike for each other, and the rest of the family wanted to keep Trooper. So we sold Lilly in 2010, and she has lived since about 2 miles from here. I'm told she is a good trail horse. I believe it, because she was very sweet.

Trooper was a ranch horse. He was loaned to a different ranch, had holes the size of the palm of my hand spurred into him, and still has scars 9 years later. He dislikes men and me in particular, but he's the only horse my youngest really enjoys riding. He is also a very good ride when I ride him...but we don't enjoy each other, so I ride him a few times a year.

Cowboy was a BLM mustang who had at least 6 previous owners. He was used for several years as a lesson horse. He was given to us, free, because he was rebellious and inclined to run off with people. A few years later, he still is very afraid of round pens and only now is getting OK with an arena. He is also a totally reliable trail horse. He is the horse my grandkids will almost certainly learn to ride. Riding yesterday morning, there was a tricky spot with lots of rocks and steep slopes, so my daughter and I dismounted Trooper and Bandit and led them across that drop into and climb out of a wash. My DIL rode Cowboy, because everyone knows Cowboy will figure it out. He is a wonderful 13.0 hand fat pony. Even if he was free, including free delivery, because he was rebellious.

Bandit is the horse I traded Mia to get, sight unseen. I was told he was good, fast, but would get very "feisty" at times. When he arrived, and needed to deal with a human neighborhood and a type of desert where visibility is very restricted, he was very spooky. Put a lifelong rider once onto his neck, bucking and resisting.

Yesterday was only the 5th or 6th time in the last 4 months that I had him out in the desert. We went into a section he hadn't been in for almost a year. He spent the first 15 minutes being his super-aware self. But he would go past things, reluctantly, with just a touch of my heels. And after the first 15-20 minutes, he settled down. At one point, we were passing some machinery that was humming, and just past the machines was a teddy bear cholla that was about 6-7 feet tall. I figured if he did anything stupid, I was going to get a shoulder full of teddy bear cholla. Look them up. But I decided to trust him, and he behave beautifully. I think he may someday rival Cowboy for being sensible and reliable...and maybe be that way in a year or so.

Now lets discuss the other side. A neighbor about 1/2 mile away told everyone we would fail as horse owners. And SHE had owned horses for 40 years, and owned 3-4 horses at the time. WE would be a total disaster.

Our farrier noted, however, that she traded horses out about 4 times a year, always complaining that the sold horse had turned out to have problems. After listening to her for a couple of years, the farrier told he SHE was the one with problems - that her horses couldn't compensate for having an idiot as an owner. Got him fired, and the woman moved away about a year later. Still searching for a well-behaved horse...

My SIL's grandmother is wealthy, and raised a lot of horses. Usually had about 20. Showed them and competed. He was required to go help her every weekday. His advice on horses was "Never turn your back on a horse. They can't be trusted."

After spending some time around Mia and Trooper and Cowboy, he admitted my horses were not anything like his grandma's horses. But of course, his grandma was "qualified" to own horses. He had owned them her entire life. She raised them and competed and showed with them. SHE was qualified. And of course, I am not. But my SIL trusts my horses, and refuses to even visit his grandma's place.

Heck, the place were Cowboy was a lesson horse was run by a woman with 40+ years around horses, who gave lessons and had spent decades showing and competing. Yet he arrived terrified of round pens and very uncomfortable with arenas, convinced his best option was to get a rider off of him. And now I plan to have my grandkids learn to ride by riding him.

I'm not buying the "Need years of experience to own a horse" or "Need years of lessons to ride a horse" lines. It isn't NEW owners who ruin horses. It is BAD owners. People like the professional cowboy who spurred bloody holes thru Trooper's skin. Or the lady who kept buying and selling horses, looking for one who would be a trustworthy trail horse.

It isn't too hard to figure out how much a horse needs to eat. If they lose weight, feed them more. If they gain weight, feed them less. If they have special needs, work with a vet or a more experienced horse owner to figure out what to feed them.

A newbie who just buys a horse WILL need good advice, and won't know -at first - what advice is good and what is bad. But most horses are forgiving, and they recognize if someone is TRYING to do right by them. And there are a lot of good horse owners who will gladly give advice - if asked.

I've had people ask about getting horses. I tell them about Mia, and what we went through with our horses. If they still are interested, I give them the name of the lady who did so much to help us, and who trained Lilly and Mia and who worked with Trooper. But there are also a LOT of experienced people I wouldn't allow to get on my horses.

And while neither my horses nor I are perfect at anything, the trend is our friend. We are all improving. Together. But then, we - my family - pay attention to our horses. I'm not sure that can be taught.
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post #22 of 29 Old 04-09-2017, 01:24 PM
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"forever. and ever.

First. . .Lessons.

Next. . . Income.


Then. . .a horse of your own."


I would change the above to:


First...RESEARCH!!! AND LOTS OF IT!!


Next...Lessons


Then....Income


Last....a horse of your own

First rule of endurance riding: If you know ANYTHING, know your horse.
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post #23 of 29 Old 04-09-2017, 05:19 PM
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Some people seem to take offense at the word "lessons". I translate that as not always meaning formal lessons that one takes from a paid professional (which should be the first choice if available, in my opinion) but rather being mentored by a very knowledgeable and experienced horse person. I didn't take professional driving lessons to learn to drive a car, but neither did my parents give me the keys and let me out the door and onto the highways with no experience.


Some people have had successful "learn as you go" experiences with horses, but they would be in the vast minority. The most dangerous attitude, in my opinion, is one who doesn't think any kind of lessons or mentoring from someone of experience and knowledge is necessary. Having lessons and gaining knowledge beforehand saves lives, both horse and human. Following the advice of this article would help one lower the risk of damaging a horse or themselves. I think a snob is someone who thinks they know everything and have no need to continue learning, while thinking they are better than everyone else.
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post #24 of 29 Old 04-09-2017, 08:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms View Post
I don't think common sense and listening to horses can be taught...

...I'm not buying the "Need years of experience to own a horse" or "Need years of lessons to ride a horse" lines. It isn't NEW owners who ruin horses. It is BAD owners. People like the professional cowboy who spurred bloody holes thru Trooper's skin. Or the lady who kept buying and selling horses, looking for one who would be a trustworthy trail horse...

...It isn't too hard to figure out how much a horse needs to eat. If they lose weight, feed them more. If they gain weight, feed them less. If they have special needs, work with a vet or a more experienced horse owner to figure out what to feed them...

...A newbie who just buys a horse WILL need good advice, and won't know -at first - what advice is good and what is bad. But most horses are forgiving, and they recognize if someone is TRYING to do right by them. And there are a lot of good horse owners who will gladly give advice - if asked...
...But then, we - my family - pay attention to our horses. I'm not sure that can be taught.
Good points. The most important thing for the horse is not what you know but who you are inside. It's not the lack of income or knowledge that becomes the problem, but the attitude. As someone mentioned, if you are caring and paying attention and get yourself into a situation where you can't afford to feed the horse or give it care, you will either pick up another job or income source, or you will find the horse a better situation.

My mare was not abused primarily by the lack of income, but by stupidity. If you can't figure out that you "asked someone, and they said feed a flake of hay," and that the horses' skeletons are visible outside their body but you still don't feed more, you're having a lot more problems in life than being ignorant about horse care. You're selfish, stupid and have no common sense.

When I was 8 years old I would have figured out that even if someone said to feed a horse a flake of hay, if my horses were looking too skinny they would need more food.

It's the same with people who buy untrained horses or just get a horse and then learn how to care for them. They might ask some silly questions at first, but if they have common sense they will figure out that they don't know how to put a saddle on correctly or how to deal with their horse trotting off with them, and they will ask for help and find the answers. They will want the best for their horse and will worry that what they are doing is wrong.

That is one place where I disagree with the article. People won't ruin a well trained horse just by being a beginner. The first mare that was given to me as a teen was an older, well-seasoned mare and I'd had no lessons at that point in my life.

If I'd been a beginner with no common sense and an uncaring attitude toward horses, I could have created problems such as balking or bucking. But as an animal person, I paid attention and listened to my horse. I'd read about the fundamentals of riding and what I didn't know, the horse taught me.

It wasn't that she was an unusual and patient horse. She wasn't, really, just an average half-Arab mare. But if I used a rein wrong and she protested, I listened. I didn't try to teach her from my ignorance, I let her teach me. We got along very well, and any basic book will tell you about the other things that horses need such as hoof and dental care, worming, and feed.
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post #25 of 29 Old 04-09-2017, 08:49 PM
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Bsms, you are an anomaly, not the norm, I am very sorry to say. You do research on horses, and seek literature for advice, most other folks do not. I am the last one who would discourage anyone from owning horses, as the industry is declining but I have seen too many acquire a horse and then lose interest in it because they won't put the time into learning how to handle the dang thing, or refuse to believe horses need dental care, proper farrier work, etc. If they had done it properly from the beginning there would be a chance they would still be involved with horses. Years of experience also does not mean well behaved horses and good riders/trainers, more often than not that is the case, but some people just get really good at doing the wrong things and stick with it for ages.
In this day and age of declining equine ownership, low attendance at shows, rezoning of horse properties and less hay/forage growers, the last thing I want is to discourage someone from owning a horse. However when done without any preparation and training, it fails and there goes another potential equestrian and one day with me and my horses and passion for showing, will be a dinosaur.

I am not here to promote anythingNo, that's not true, I am here to promote everything equestrian and everyone enjoying horses!
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post #26 of 29 Old 04-09-2017, 09:57 PM
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I would certainly agree that I did not get the best possible start. I was grossly overhorsed with Mia, and only a lot of goodwill from her (and me, I suppose) and help from some professionals got us thru. Some advice from a former moderator (maura) helped immensely. She introduced me to VS Littauer, and his writing on riding was invaluable to me.

The biggest drawback to someone who just buys a horse and then starts from scratch isn't that they will make the horse mean, but that they will lose interest in 3-6 months and dump the horse somewhere else. Cowboy had been 'for sale' for free for two months before the instructor who ran the lessons thought to give us a call and ask if we would want him. A 13.0 hand pony who had already had at least 6 owners before me...that HAS to be rough on a horse!

Someone reasonably needs to know they really want horses, and know they want them for the long haul, before buying a horse. But one can also go too far to the other side. My youngest got her first riding lessons on Lilly, who had never been ridden before we got her and who was as green as a 'broke' horse can be when my daughter first started riding her. But my youngest also had good intentions, and Lilly - and most horses I've met (excluding my unpleasant relationship with Trooper) respond well to someone who is sincerely trying. I've watched fussy Mia with a brand new rider on her, taking care of them even though she obviously was NOT having fun.

Like most, I can only relate my own experience. Trooper was spurred bloody by a professional cowboy and has disliked guys ever since. He'll ride OK, but he doesn't like men at all. Cowboy was badly ridden in a lesson program. He didn't arrive a "naughty" pony. He was a SCARED & CONFUSED pony, and a horse who is scared and confused is a dangerous horse. And unhappily, he got that way under the supervision of a very experienced woman who I know knew better. Bandit's background included lots of riding by life-long riders. And they could and did push him past things without seeming to care that HE was still afraid. They may have ridden all their lives, but they also seemed to miss that he was obedient (mostly) but not confident.

My SIL's grandmother sounds like a hopelessly repulsive person around humans, as well as horses. But he grew up working around horses 5 days a week all thru his teen years, and the lesson he took away was to never trust a horse.

I don't see a lot of evidence that experience teaches compassion or understanding. Experience obviously makes a person who cares and thinks better at riding and handling horses. Most all of what has worked with Bandit was built on what I learned during some rough years with Mia, but that in turn was rooted in my wanting to learn to ride WITH my horse, not ON my horse.

Consider this passage from an Austrian Cavalry officer in the mid-1800s:
.
...There is another thing to be considered with regard to the horse's character - 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. It is evident that all these things must be taken into account and receive due attention, whether it be our object to prevent or to get rid of some bad habit a horse may have acquired ; 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..."

On Seats and Saddles, by Francis Dwyer, Major of Hussars in the Imperial Austrian Service (1868)
.

That passage gave me a lot of food for thought, yet it is something I've almost never seen discussed - getting a horse to take pleasure in being ridden. People who can empathize with horses will value that. Others will not. And I have no idea how it can be taught...but I own horses who were made worse by experienced people who attacked with the energy of folly and violence.

BTW - if someone wants to know about getting into riding, I discuss Mia with them. The good and the bad. I'm not trying to discourage them, but I want them to understand that a responsible owner may face some rough times by starting out like I did. And since I lived it, I hope it gets through to them. But at the same time, it is not impossible.
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post #27 of 29 Old 04-09-2017, 11:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waresbear View Post
Bsms, you are an anomaly, not the norm, I am very sorry to say. You do research on horses, and seek literature for advice, most other folks do not. I am the last one who would discourage anyone from owning horses, as the industry is declining but I have seen too many acquire a horse and then lose interest in it because they won't put the time into learning how to handle the dang thing, or refuse to believe horses need dental care, proper farrier work, etc. If they had done it properly from the beginning there would be a chance they would still be involved with horses. Years of experience also does not mean well behaved horses and good riders/trainers, more often than not that is the case, but some people just get really good at doing the wrong things and stick with it for ages.
In this day and age of declining equine ownership, low attendance at shows, rezoning of horse properties and less hay/forage growers, the last thing I want is to discourage someone from owning a horse. However when done without any preparation and training, it fails and there goes another potential equestrian and one day with me and my horses and passion for showing, will be a dinosaur.
The thing is @waresbear that it isn't just horses that this happens in. People get an idea in their head about a new hobby, jump in feet first and then in no time they are ready to move on to something different. We had and ran cowboy action shooting range here for quite a number of years and I can't tell you how many folks would show up to watch a match, run out and spend a couple of thousand dollars or more to gear up, shoot a match or two and then were done with it and trying to sell off their stuff.

There are just some humans that do not have the mindset to stick with anything. Like @bsms said, there are some things you can't teach. Unfortunately it's hard to tell the ones who want to learn and will stick with it apart from the ones who won't because they are very good at saying the right things.

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post #28 of 29 Old 04-10-2017, 05:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JCnGrace View Post
I've seen a few supposed experts ruin horses and I've seen beginners do right by their first horse as well as what the article talks about. I think that new owners who want to learn, not to proud to ask for advice, are willing to listen to that advise and aren't too fearful to use that advise can do ok.
This is a good point too! Right now I can think of 4 people within 40 miles of me who call themselves trainers and yet, routinely ruin one horse after another, both physically and mentally. When the horse breaks down or fails in the show ring (as they always do), every single one of them tell the newbie owner that the horse isn't suitable. "I'll sell him for you and find you a new one" but the catch is that they take 10% off the sale and 10% off the buy.

What's a new horse owner to do when they hook up with an incompetent trainer or worse, a destructive one?

On the other hand, one of these owners became frustrated when she was on her 3rd horse and every one of them became mentally damaged. One day she asked, "what in the heck is she ("the trainer") doing with my horse?". I said, do you really to know? She assured me yes, so I told her in detail what was being done to her horse while she was not around. I hold that woman in contempt to this day as she stayed with the "trainer" through 5 ruined horses despite knowing the truth!
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post #29 of 29 Old 04-10-2017, 06:29 AM
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I disagree over not being able to teach common sense!

What I have found is that when asked a question like "Why is it bad for horses to drink out of a sandy stream?" Instead of telling the answer I make them think it over and work it out for themselves.

At a Pony Club rally I was teaching about keeping ponies at grass and asked the above question along with "and good if the stream has a stones bottom."
One little girl put her hand up and was begging to tell the answer. Her theory was that with a stones stream you get frogs and tadpoles and they would tickle a horse's nose and he would like it a drink plenty - which was good. A sandy base would have crabs and they would nip a horse's nose and he wouldn't drink and would die of thirst.

Not quite the answer I was looking for but she was somewhat correct!

Children around me are made to think things through and not told the answer - that leads to them developing common sense amd logical thinking.
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