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Tempus Fugit * horses take time
A friend on the HF kindly sent me as an introduction, a link to Ray Hunt’s web site and I have extracted the essence of some of his words of wisdom. This man knew horses. Herewith my paraphrase of what he once wrote:
If the human will give 5%, the horse will give 95%.
In a contest between horse and human, which the human invariably makes into a win or lose situation, the horse usually wins.
The human is so busy working on the horse that he doesn't allow the horse the time to learn. .
The horse usually gets the job done in spite of us, not because of us.
The horse is good at non verbal communication which must be interpreted by humans.
The horse is very honest and will tell you the facts.
Humans teach the horse to cheat; not the other way round
RAY HUNT
Ray Hunt was a life long horseman indeed horses were his life. Nowadays few of us get the chance not only to play with horses but to work with them as he did. There is simply never enough time. My own opinion is that we spend time in this life more than we do money. We certainly don’t allocate enough time to our equine companion(s) for there are always time pressures on us be they from work or family or home or other “essential commitments”. A young professional woman with home, husband, family and job has little daylight time left over from any day. I have sympathy for her. But as a result our relationships with our horses suffer. Problems arise.

A horse knows the time of day but he doesn’t measure it or spend it. If a job takes time to do, he takes the time to do it. So when we want him to do something for us, we have to allow him time to understand what it is we want him to do and then he has to work out how to do it for us. And often we don’t allow him enough time nor do we pick the right moment. We are constrained and dominated by that ticking thing on our wrists.
On a nice sunny day we don’t have time to ride, on the following day we ride in a rain storm. The horse must think we are mad. We book the arena for a period and when the period has lapsed we leave the arena. We may have stayed too long or we may have left too early. The horse is puzzled “Why when we were getting on so well did we stop? He asks.

Competitions are organised for a day - so the horse and the rider must, repeat must, be ready on the day Race horses can’t ever run much faster than they do but they must run as fast as they can on the day. There is to be a test, we must be ready on the day. The horse literally doesn’t know what day of the month it is. But by including the horse in this human created treadmill, we enforce these quaint conceptions on our horse. Surely we must learn to give the horse the time of day.

Another point RH was making by his work is that we humans should learn to trust our horses much more than we do because in most instances they know more about the job in hand than we do - that is of course unless we want them to cheat.


The acceptance of this philosophy by a human is of course dependent upon the human’s willingness to believe that a horse has a level of intelligence and that they present as something more than dumb beasts of burden.

Some of us will readily believe that : “a horse is having us on” or being “deliberately disobedient because it knows what to do” but those same people will also declare that the horse has no intelligence beyond perhaps memory. We talk, shout, and berate our horses but we make no attempt to understand their communications back to us. “The crop is greater than the carrot” they cry. Why is it that we believe that they understand us if the horses know we can’t understand them? Traditional ideas of: “compulsion is best” combined with impatience and an obsession with the clock stand between us and a better relationship with our horses We should open our minds to a different way of thinking. We must remember the honestly spoken words of the Ray Hunts of this world. Most of what we do with horses takes time and patience. Yet the one thing most of us seem to do is to restrict the time we allow for our horses to communicate and respond to us.

Sad isn’t it?
* Translated as “Time flies”
 

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Interesting post. I think I'm a bit luckier than most as my horses live in my backyard and I do spend a lot of time with them. I'm out at the barn at least three times a day, I do ride on sunny days, not in the rain, I don't compete with my horses so that's no problem either. But it does make you think a bit.

Truth is it goes for dogs as well. I do train and compete with my dogs ;)
 

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Barry, As someone who had met Ray Hunt I must say that you captured what he taught quite well. I wish you could have met him and ridden with him as I know you both would have enjoyed it. Ray was a kind man and a gentleman but he never spared a persons feelings when it came to the way they interacted with thier horse. He refered to those of us that were riding in his clinic as a bunch of maggots several times during the clinic I rode in. He didn't mean it rudely but just used it as a way to get his point clearly across. When someone couldn't get what he said the first time he escalated his instruction each time he repeated it untill the person understood, much like we try to do with our horses. The short time I knew him was like getting tutored in Physics by Einstien. Everytime I mount a horse I think of two people; Ray Hunt and my dad. Sometime during the ride I use something that one or the other of those men taught me and I hold on to those things like a precious gem.
 

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Kevin
Sadly one does not always meet with such men as RH but I have met 2 men who followed pretty much the same philosophy. One a Canadian Kennie Ross, who came across to the UK for WW2 and never went back. He had been a rodeo rider in his youth. He had a way with horses which I had noticed but was too young to fully appreciate. Lord Loch was the other - a very special man who again lived for his Lusitano stallions and training riders to the Portuguese way of doing things. All three men are dead - a great pity. However such men show you what to look for and then you have to go out and find it for yourself.
A friend of mine who is still alive was a stuntman. Interestingly he has an unusual way of handling horses but he makes little attempt to pass on his knowledge to strangers. He has been involved in making a lot of films
and you will have seen him in Bond films and perhaps even as Hoss's double in the very old b&w TV series Bonanza.
Unfortunately we have to get older to appreciate the special things in life. At least we have found horses (and dogs).
Barry
 

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I attended the funeral of my wifes uncles father if you can follow that and there was a display of photos. One of the photos was an old black and white showing him as a young man with a large black horse standing with all four feet on the top of a nail keg. It made me deeply sad that I had not known what kind of horseman this man was. I knew he had used horses on his farm but by the time I met him he was old and crippled from a broken back. His mind was still very sharp and I wish I had been able to gain some wisdom from his stories. I try not to spend too much time around the old timers without inviting some storytelling to take place. Most are quite willing to talk about how things used to be done if they sense that you are interested. Sadly, too many people think that all this 'natural' horse stuff is brand new because they haven't heard of it before. In reality there have been people practicing this type of horsemanship for hundreds if not thousands of years. Thanks to hollywood people think that the 'cowboy' way of training a horse was just to buck them out and keep riding. That was not always the case and when it did happen the training came after the horse quit bucking. The califoria vaqueros took great pride in thier horses and they did not develop the kind of horses they rode through rough handling. thier horses could rival any of todays crop of barn pampered specialized reining or cutting horses.

This is kind of a rambling post but my point is that we are in danger of losing sight of the forest for the trees. When men like Ray Hunt are replaced by the cookie cutter, step-by-step, DVD horseman that are so popular today we risk losing the wisdom of the why of the method for the ease of the how. When we get stuck on a training issue it's too easy to say "this doesn't work on my horse" or "I tried Parelli and it didn't work". If you know the philosophy behind the technique you can tailor the method to each horse but without knowing why something is done you have to just hope you stumble across the right thing by accident. Luckily, as Ray said ' If the human will give 5% the horse will give 95%.'

The sad thing is that there will be more people view thread about what color of reins look best with this horse than will view a thread about one of the greatest horseman of the last 100 years.
 

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This is a very good post. Kevin and B. G. you have both given me something to think about. I'm a younger rider, and I love hearing from the "old timers." I've learned that my step-father and his father have vast experience which they are willing to share with me. It's interesting to hear how much of that is similar to what I hear on here. :)
 

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Very good posts and such an important message also.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Kevin
Those guys who had worked with horses all their lives watched as the horse was replaced by the automobile. It must have been heart breaking
for them as suddenly the boss came along and announced that he had ordered a brand new lorry or van. The horse had to go because it was too much trouble and it created a mess in the yard.

The British took their horses to war in 1914 and the cavalry men watched as they were blown to pieces sometimes within a few weeks of arriving in Belgium or France. Can you imagine what it did to those men?

When the war was over, the soldiers went back to a bankrupted Britain - and the jobs weren't there, in some cases because the young men in the richer horse owning families never returned from war. Most of the horses taken to war had been eaten. In other levels of society there was no work for anyone - the Depression was just around the corner. In the 20s & the 30s the horse gave way to the combustion engine and the expertise of handling horses slowly died with the horses. The world the Old Timers had known disappeared and slowly but surely so did the expertise along with the Old Timers. Luckily I have some of the books
they had written.

The Fox Hunt, essentially part of the military machine, was left to carry on the traditions in the interim.

Until the 1950s horses were still to be found in London but slowly the use of them changed towards leisure and sport. By the 1970s riding was being rediscovered as a sport largely by young women. Arguably there are nowadays more horses in Britain than cows. An amazing transformation. There is a lot of grass to graze on in the UK, too much even for the sheep to eat.

Yes, there are many distortions in this modern world. Catalogues pay more attention to fashion than practicality. Riding becomes dominated by jumping and some very unnatural dressage fads. Horse are being especially bred to meet a performance requirement just like in horse racing. Adrenaline is everything. But at least the population stops rising.

However the old skills once ignored and rejected are being re-discovered.
The horse is coming back into use as a companion, maybe not in work but in leisure. If this new modern world creates a space for horses then it must be a good thing. I don't want to ever see horse meat on a British menu.

If only we can help the young folks to look at their horse differently.
If only we can persuade the young women to create more time for their horse,
If only we can persuade them to suppress their obsession with image.
If only we could persuade more young men to take an interest.

But we perhaps might have to accept that it is now a female dominated sport and that it is a very different world from the one you, me and the old timers want(ed) to see. I just hope the "Health & Safety Fanatics don't whitewash/disinfect the hobby. But so far the horse has survived.
Bearing in mind the mud, the dung, the sweat, the fear and the cost that is good going.

This Horse Forum is an excellent route through to some of the young folks who are now discovering the pleasure of being with a genuine horse. You and me (and a few of the others on the Forum) have a route to the mind of the young riders. In the US I notice that the vast distances
involved can make the help from good trainers to be difficult to acquire - so the youngster watches DVDs & soon the Internet to get advice even with the most basic of issues. They won't read books - they might read blogs if the articles aren't too long.

Nevertheless they must be encouraged to think for themselves, to question and to be patient.

Perhaps you and me ought to look in the mirror sometimes. Maybe we are the Old Fogeys of today - although from your photograph you are significantly younger than me?

Barry

PS Thanks for the compliments of late.
 

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I think you pretty much summed it up for me Barry.
I can't think of another thing to add.

Thanks
 
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