"It is all very well quoting from books, practical application is another matter
I've never understood the rejecting of books by riders. If you hire an instructor, and she tells you "Heels down", you are doing something good. But if you buy a book by someone like George Morris and read about position, that is "just a book". If I asked for advice on HF about spooking and bolting - and I did - then that is good (although much of the advice I got proved to make things worse, not better). But if I read a book that has stayed in print for over 100 years - which suggests it has something of value in it - then reading THAT advice is just a mental game. Apparently written advice conveyed via pixels is useful, and written advice conveyed via ink is not.
To quote another rider in another book:
"Because of the widespread preconception that you can only learn, in a sort of intuitive way, by doing, and that reading or even thinking seriously about riding is rather pointless, too many young riders are doomed to groping too long in a forest of problems solved long ago. I can recall my astonishment, when I first began to collect books on the techniques of riding, at finding, in books written two or three centuries ago, minute descriptions of "discoveries" that I had made for myself only after a long period of trial and error...Once we become interested in learning about riding, and are not content to repeat interminably the same errors, there is much that we can learn."
- William Steinkraus, Riding and Jumping, 1961.
But I think I've had sufficient "practical application" in spooks and bolts to offer both my experience AND quotes from the books whose information has worked when I applied it - unlike some of the advice I got on HF! However, if I give my opinion, anyone can reasonably ask, "What does he know?" If I offer my experiences, backed by expert testimony, then it might carry more weight.
Or not. Folks can do what they think best. But I admit I'm astounded by the idea that it makes sense to read posts on HF, but doesn't mean squat to read books by great riders with experience involving thousands of horses.
"A very assertive horse might decide that now is a good time to take over the relationship and make the decisions.
" That would have been Mia. And Mia's decision was usually to spin 180 and run away as fast as possible. In a snaffle, I could spin her when she tried to bolt, and we would do 3-7 more spins, all of which confirmed in her mind that her fear was justified. Horses do not distinguish between excitement and fear.
That was why a curb bit proved so valuable with her. She quickly learned she could not evade it. Since she could not evade it, she stopped still - just long enough for things like bicycles, motorcycles, rattling cars, coyotes, etc to leave. Once she realized she could stand still and the scary thing would go away, her spooking changed from very dangerous behavior to spooking in place - maybe a jump sideways, which is not a good idea when you are surrounded by cactus - but mostly staying still and just a single jump (rarely forward) or a 90 deg turn away (followed by a turn back when I asked for it).
BTW - if I remember correctly, it was advice from gottatrot that encouraged me to try a curb bit on Mia. If so, thanks - it was the best single thing I tried during seven years of riding her.
The "must save my life
" reaction (spook) was very dangerous. A "what was that
" (startle) reaction is minor. With some patience and work, Bandit has gone from fighting to get away to listening. He may dive left or right for a moment, but then he pauses and I can tell him to do what makes sense to me. That may be annoying, but it beats his spinning around and nearly falling down a hill shortly after I got him.
Even level-headed little Cowboy startles. When a large buzzard swooped down over our heads the other day, I could feel a jolt in his back. But then he went "Bird. Not a threat. OK.
" When we were shot at a few weeks ago by idiots in the desert emptying their guns without even using a target, let alone worrying about a backstop, he was SCARED. Since the other rider could see the vegetation on either side of us being moved by the bullets, scared made sense. But he was trying to think, and eager to take direction from his rider (me).
Cowboy doesn't actually LIKE me. We do not have "A BOND". But if things get dicey on a trail, he expects his rider to take charge and give direction, and he WANTS someone else to make the decisions. He was afraid but listening. That is my goal with Bandit. Mia was getting there, and Bandit is getting there faster than Mia was - difference in personalities. What works great with one horse may be a disaster with another, so having more than one trick in your bag of tricks helps.
When the poop hits the fan, having a horse with "A BOND" or who 'loves you' doesn't get the job done. Having a horse who has learned that humans make good decisions - THAT will keep the horse sane and listening. IMHO.