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Discussion Starter · #201 ·
Here's a reflection I wrote on the questions of, "Push or back off or be patient?" and "Can I do gentle methods with a horse that's been brought up on rough ones?"

Well, you know how TR says, "When in doubt revert to quiet persistence?" I think that's very sage advice. He dealt with a lot more "problem horses" than we did in our small operation over the course of his long life, and that's his take, and we've never had any negative consequences from following that advice with any horse, "problem" or not. You know the proverb "Festina lente" - "Make haste slowly"? I think it's a similar principle. Patience and taking time pay off in the long run, because they don't destroy your learning foundation. And it's putting excess pressure on horses that makes them behave in dangerous ways, as they then cycle through desperate escape strategies. When the horse sees you as a trustworthy ally, and as a protector, it's going to calmly go past a lot more scary stuff than it ever would on its own, just from observation. It just takes time to develop that trust, but I think that this trust is one of the most underrated qualities in the contemporary horse community, who'd rather use crow bar approaches.

I've been reading Minette Walters novels, she reflects on human psychology, and she has one of the most brilliant definitions of abuse I've come across: Abuse is the use of power without love or respect. And I think that's how most people wield power these days, whether with fellow humans or with other species. And horses are acutely sensitive to the kind of "vibes" humans give off. If you're giving off calm, happy, respectful vibes they totally respond to that. Don't try training them when you're emotionally upset, or angry - is what I've learnt: Calm and happy is the prerequisite from my side of things.

Humans who bully or people who think they're so superior, in my experience, have all sorts of problems training horses that calm, happy, respectful people don't tend to have. They then think the horses are that way, but really their own attitudes are producing the training issues. Some breeds are comparatively easy to bully, and I've also noticed that those sorts of trainers tend to train those sorts of breeds, and if a particularly clever or dignified animal comes along, a showdown is in the making.

The sensitivity of horses to what's on board a person is really evident to any of us who oversee meetings between horses and people with disabilities. They display extraordinary sensitivity towards these vulnerable people. My paddock boss horse, who's mostly aloof with strangers, spent 40 minutes voluntarily, and at complete liberty, with a young woman with CP the first time he met her (in a 4ha space), totally gentle and considerate and just hanging out with her when he could have been exploring or grazing - sniffing her gently, having "dialogue" with her (no food involved), picking up sticks and playing with them for entertainment, which made her laugh.

While I wasn't in the least surprised that my "cuddly" three wanted to hang with her, this horse did blow my expectations out of the water. This is the same horse who, when another stranger came into the paddock uninvited and attempted to impose himself on him (came with a macho "I'm the boss" attitude), nearly put that person through the fence (saving my intervention), but I think the horse was right to do it, and it's certainly what I hope he would do if he had to defend himself or his herd against up-to-no-good human intruders, or predators (if we had any).

I really dislike the dictatorial training approach, and I've not seen it produce the kind of thing I want in a horse. There was a most ridiculous thread about catching horses and I've ended up posting here: Help With A Hard To Catch Horse

I don't know where some people get off. A horse is a herbivore and is evolutionarily geared to avoid potential predators like us. Historically, they were our food before they were transport. But now, apparently, the fact that a new owner has trouble catching a horse in several hectares of paddock is due to the horse's "lack if respect". Give me a break. I've also noticed that the people who talk the longest and loudest about horses' lack of respect and "getting it" are actually the kind of people least interested in the offering of any respect, whether to humans or other species or the earth.

As usual, what I've said is going down like a lead balloon, but you know, that's not my problem (but it's why I rarely post in training, and neither do a whole bunch of gentle-horsemanship advocates and practitioners I know on HF, who are fed up with how those threads go).

I wouldn't let dictatorial trainers anywhere near my animals. (I'm not talking about all trainers who don't do gentle horsemanship methods, but about the extreme form who seem to think horses were put on this earth to obey their whims without question, and who get rough with their horses regularly.) Many are disrespectful, corrosive bullies, with humans and animals alike, and I suspect that narcissistic personality disorder, or some other form of psychopathology, features more prominently amongst such people. I expect my (very late-gelded) riding horse (who retains many stallion behaviours) would put extreme people like that, if they started on their power trips with him, on the ground with his front feet, and rightly so - and I actually wouldn't interfere, in such a case. I would see that as a natural consequence for bad behaviour on the part of the person. Kind of like I really wouldn't care these days if someone who's been tailgating people on the highway ended up in the next ditch. These people make life unpleasant and dangerous for their fellow beings, and I'm not as evolved as the Dalai Lama in having compassion for them. I find people like that excrementitious.

The "problem" horses we took over from such people over the last 35 years breathed a huge sigh of relief, and their behaviour became more positive, instead of getting stuck on an impasse. (Of course, we also acquired horses without behaviour problems from people who treat their animals with decency!)

To say, "If the horse is used to the 'Obey or else' school, can I do gentle horsemanship with them?" I think is like saying, if your first relationship was an abusive relationship, should you even aim for a healthy relationship next time around, or continue in the same groove? If you marry a person who was treated roughly in a past relationship, can they respond to courtesy and respect and the concept of partnership? Or should we just keep beating them with a stick because that's what they are used to? :wink:

PS: My husband and I often debate what characterises love. I say, "Do you love me for theoretical me, or is it a package deal that comes with wonderful meals, someone warm to snuggle up to at night, smiles, conversation, mutually shared adventures, those sorts of fringe benefits?" :rofl: But really, I think that's all inseparable. Love is a doing word. And the same principles apply to working with horses. :wink:
 
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Discussion Starter · #202 ·
Having a whale of a time on our 40+ group at the moment, and it just happens we are discussing spook management strategies, and I wanted to re-post one of my contributions here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AnitaAnne
If I ever see a garbage truck coming towards me, I plan to get off!!

That's actually an under-appreciated strategy. People imagine horses will start to do pretend spooks just to get people off their backs. Well, maybe with some people they do - maybe due to saddle/weight/comfort issues that need addressing, or maybe because they have Neanderthals riding them and don't really enjoy their company, or because they're getting hurt with insensitive bit handling (unsteady hands, grabbing, etc). But I've not had any problems with horses being encouraged to pretend-spook by reverting to work on the ground in iffy situations. I do it as a standard procedure. Horses, if they trust you and see you as an ally/protector, tend to calm down when you're on the ground right next to them, and you very much lower the risk to the rider, however seasoned. Eventually horses extend that belief in your magic bogeyman-banishing powers to having you on their back as well.

Harness education, which we did with twenty-odd different horses in our lives, always involved the usual groundwork and lots of long reining first. There was the main handler and the on-call babysitter, who would walk next to the horse / offset in front of the horse if you were, for instance, getting a bogeyman situation long-reining a horse through a bush track. Horses are glad to follow your lead in situations that make them tense, or the lead of an older, experienced horse who is calm and confident (which is how young horses working in teams used to get matched up). It always prevented so much of the trouble that people who just push their horses through these things tend to get - and we ended up with calm, cooperative horses. You go ahead a few times and it's "old hat".

Same with water crossings (assuming you're wearing gum boots) - walk the horse through, walk it back, get back on, ride it through is usually an effective, fast and drama-free approach. I can do a dozen water crossings over the same stream with a reluctant horse using that method in the time usually taken by a rider who stays on and attempts to cajole (or bully) them from their backs to get just one crossing. Horses learn so much by imitation. The more a horse repeats an experience, the less scary it is.

Sometimes I wonder if some of the reluctance to revert to ground work from some quarters is because they find it such hard work to get on or off a horse! :evil:
 

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The old US Cavalry manual had an odd split. OTOH, it said, "The two best means of correction are the spur and the whip, employed together or used separately."

However, a few paragraphs later, it says, "The fact must be borne in mind that punishments are very rarely necessary. Most of the faults committed by the horse are due to his ignorance and lack of training...in either case, severity becomes an injustice and causes such harmful results that it is better not to punish at all than to punish wrongly."

For myself...I tried a whip on Mia. Thick, heavy leather applied with lots of force...and she went backwards. Flew backwards! And the harder I hit, the faster she flew. Backwards!

Never tried spurs. I figure when things go wrong (and they do sometimes when I ride), I want my legs to grip with and I don't want to be gripping a panicked horse and spurring it unintentionally at the same time.

Now that I have Bandit instead of Mia, I find myself struggling with how much discipline is right and when does it become abuse. If a horse decides it is time to go home and eat instead of obey me, I figure that is time for us to have a fight. If things have reached the stage where my horse is gathering itself to spring forward and bolt, then immediate harsh use of the bit can save us both from injury or death - the only time to stop a bolt in progress is in the first spring. After that, as far as I can tell, about all that really works is to stay relaxed and wait for the bolt to turn into a run. Calling the horse's name softly worked once the bolt was fully entered - when an ear flicked back, her mind had returned and we could stop. But in that first motion to leap forward, you can catch the horse and keep them in place. So I understand doing what is needed to prevent injury to both horse and rider. And as best as I can tell, I've never injured a horse's mouth doing it. In the first moment, you can stop it with less force than an injury needs.

But I'm reminded of a scene in "Old Yeller" where the older boy asks his uncle how to deal with his younger brother - who is fond of throwing rocks at the authority figure. The uncle replies something like "I wouldn't get in a rock-throwing contest with Arliss to begin with".

Thinking about it, it seems to me that I don't want to get into a rock-throwing contest with Arliss...or Mia, or Bandit. If I can prevent the situation from escalating to that point, or decrease the tension until it can be handled without 'rock-throwing', then that beats learning how to throw a rock harder.

This resonates with me:
" But I've not had any problems with horses being encouraged to pretend-spook by reverting to work on the ground in iffy situations. I do it as a standard procedure. Horses, if they trust you and see you as an ally/protector, tend to calm down when you're on the ground right next to them, and you very much lower the risk to the rider, however seasoned. Eventually horses extend that belief in your magic bogeyman-banishing powers to having you on their back as well."
I can't honestly think of a time when any of my horses acted relieved that I was dismounting. Happy to get home? Yes. But I've never seen my horse act like dismounting during a ride was winning anything - that it "profited him", to use Robert's phrase. I also believe in the old cavalry rule of regularly dismounting once an hour and walking the horse for a few minutes - good for my knees and back, if not theirs! I normally do it once or twice a ride regardless of anything else happening.

So if the horse is afraid of something ahead of me...not balking, which I can usually convince them not to do with my heels, but afraid...then why not back up 20 feet (with Bandit) or 100 feet (with Mia - her worry zone was bigger than Bandit's) and calm them down. When they relax, not before, dismount. The worst injury I've had came from trying to dismount a scared horse. And if I see trouble ahead, why wait until it is in my lap? Why not takes steps to avoid the explosion?

And once dismounted, I've never had much problem leading them past something. In the worst case, I can always let go of the lead rope and let the horse go. But I've never needed to do that.

A lot of folks I meet seem to consider that to be "The Way of the Coward". Well, it certainly involves less physical risk to me. But is it cowardice to think the best way to win a rock fight with Arliss is not to start one in the first place? If the horse can trust me enough to back away carefully and then wait while I dismount, isn't he already giving me an honest effort and cooperating with me? And once we've gotten past the scary area, none of my horses has acted up while I mounted. They've just waited patiently for our ride to resume.

Thinking about it, what is so wrong with simply avoiding a blow up? Why would a good rider want to push a horse into an explosion?
 

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Discussion Starter · #204 ·
However, a few paragraphs later, it says, "The fact must be borne in mind that punishments are very rarely necessary. Most of the faults committed by the horse are due to his ignorance and lack of training...in either case, severity becomes an injustice and causes such harmful results that it is better not to punish at all than to punish wrongly."
Here, they are with TR pretty much verbatim. Maybe there were two or more authors? Or this was a second or subsequent edition with some editing? Or maybe the author has multiple personality disorder? ;-)


For myself...I tried a whip on Mia. Thick, heavy leather applied with lots of force...and she went backwards. Flew backwards! And the harder I hit, the faster she flew. Backwards!
Yeah, physically hurting a horse doesn't remove its ignorance, or calm a nervous disposition. If a horse being whipped is lucky enough to randomly alight on the thing the rider wants from it, then the rider will see whipping as a "good thing to do"... More often, this kind of situation just escalates, and it certainly does nothing to persuade the horse you are a reliable ally.


Now that I have Bandit instead of Mia, I find myself struggling with how much discipline is right and when does it become abuse. If a horse decides it is time to go home and eat instead of obey me, I figure that is time for us to have a fight.
See, I agree the horse can't just go home, and I'll use strategies to prevent that. However, I don't think of it as a fight, or let it be a fight. (A teaching opportunity, sometimes a bit of a game of chess...but not a fight.) Maybe I'm just very persuasive. ;-) I think you can distract horses similarly to how you can distract toddlers: "Oh, look over here! Let's do this!" And if the horse is fretful, dismounting and doing groundwork can at times be better than sitting on a ticking bomb. And all the time, so important not to get emotionally upset or angry in those situations, and not to rush anything. Just calm and positive. A horse is so tuned into our own emotions.


If things have reached the stage where my horse is gathering itself to spring forward and bolt, then immediate harsh use of the bit can save us both from injury or death - the only time to stop a bolt in progress is in the first spring. After that, as far as I can tell, about all that really works is to stay relaxed and wait for the bolt to turn into a run. Calling the horse's name softly worked once the bolt was fully entered - when an ear flicked back, her mind had returned and we could stop. But in that first motion to leap forward, you can catch the horse and keep them in place. So I understand doing what is needed to prevent injury to both horse and rider. And as best as I can tell, I've never injured a horse's mouth doing it. In the first moment, you can stop it with less force than an injury needs.
I think the immediacy of the response is probably what stops the bolt, rather than the severity (and perhaps you're not quite as severe as you think?). We had a horse that had bolted repeatedly in a snaffle, with various riders including past owners, but never again when we introduced it to a soft padded English hackamore - which took severity out of the equation, but immediately acted to lower the horse's head. I also think it's true that each horse is different and different things work for different horses.

It's certainly best to act before the horse gathers speed.


I can't honestly think of a time when any of my horses acted relieved that I was dismounting. Happy to get home? Yes. But I've never seen my horse act like dismounting during a ride was winning anything - that it "profited him", to use Robert's phrase. I also believe in the old cavalry rule of regularly dismounting once an hour and walking the horse for a few minutes - good for my knees and back, if not theirs! I normally do it once or twice a ride regardless of anything else happening.
Good rule, and a rider stays supple that way, plus the horse's back gets a break. Also extra mounting practice for the rider! I think it was also a good rule (Australian cavalry) to mount alternating sides. I ought to have employed that rule from when I was young, and have to admit I'm a bit unenthusiastic about off-side mounting. Shouldn't be though! Reduces sidedness in horse and rider.


When they relax, not before, dismount. The worst injury I've had came from trying to dismount a scared horse. And if I see trouble ahead, why wait until it is in my lap? Why not takes steps to avoid the explosion?

And once dismounted, I've never had much problem leading them past something. In the worst case, I can always let go of the lead rope and let the horse go. But I've never needed to do that.
We neither. We've never "lost" a horse that way. In an extreme situation with a very scared horse I had to deal with rearing and plunging from the ground, but as long as you can maintain your relative position and keep out of harm's way that's quite manageable, certainly compared to trying to ride in such a scenario. That horse in that scenario was so freaked out he would have bolted home at top speed had I let the reins go. I had to keep him moving on the ground to dissipate some of that adrenaline. Standing still not an option. ;-) Took around ten minutes to calm him down. I then deliberately spent some time walking away a little from the bogeyman, and then walking back towards him. Over and over, talking calmly to the horse. Getting closer and closer. Until the horse tolerated the bogeyman. Praise praise praise etc, end of lesson.

In that particular case, it was a type of livestock in the neighbour's paddock that this horse had not encountered before. After that day, he was still suspicious and needed cajoling for a while, but never panicked at this type of bogeyman again. Or indeed panicked so blindly again. This was (ex-harness) Sunsmart during his first fortnight under saddle, at the beginning of developing a working relationship with me. It was really important that this situation ended on a good note (always is, but especially during this formative stage). And it's so much easier now, of course, seven or eight years later. A totally different kettle of fish once the horse sees you as someone you can rely on, etc. I think starting out is always the most difficult phase.


A lot of folks I meet seem to consider that to be "The Way of the Coward".
This just smacks of ego to me - and the idea that a tough guy is dominant in all situations and just rides it out. It's pretty much Neanderthal level thinking. This attitude is more fixated on how a rider appears (hero or not to admiring crowd) than on whether the horse is learning and your relationship with the horse is progressing.

Oh but wait, heroes don't have relationships with their horses. ;-) They just command the entire universe! :rofl:


Well, it certainly involves less physical risk to me. But is it cowardice to think the best way to win a rock fight with Arliss is not to start one in the first place? If the horse can trust me enough to back away carefully and then wait while I dismount, isn't he already giving me an honest effort and cooperating with me? And once we've gotten past the scary area, none of my horses has acted up while I mounted. They've just waited patiently for our ride to resume.
:iagree:

We have basically the same sorts of thinking and experiences working with our horses, as what you're describing here.

Brains versus brawn - the pen versus the sword - reflection versus kneejerk responses - etc. :) I do think that status anxiety and emotional baggage on the part of humans so often interferes with sanity and calm. You can see that principle operating not just in horse training, but in marriages, politics, xenophobia, foreign policies etc. Now there's a broad subject! :)

I do think it's important to learn from your own experiences and not give other people's opinions as much weight as they might like. ;-)

I'm going to re-post this to your own journal in case anyone want to discuss it there! ;-) :charge:
 

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Discussion Starter · #205 ·
And now on a lighter note, on 40+ we were discussing gadgets that might help fossilising riders to mount more easily, in case of dismount - work from the ground - get back on the horse scenarios. I think the best contenders are these :wink::






Of course, with these you'd have to ride stirrupless! :smile:

If you want to keep your stirrups, maybe this solution is more appealing:






Or we could put our heads together on this thread and engineer a few new solutions noone has thought of as yet! :grin:

:music019:
 

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Discussion Starter · #206 ·
So I was doing the laundry this morning and thinking about the things being discussed earlier. Some more thoughts:

Re “The Coward's Way”: It occurred to me that it's usually cowards who project their own distorted thinking on the world... And that it's cowards who seek to bolster their sense of self-worth through acts of perceived bravado, and through exercising power without respect on creatures who are relatively powerless. It's cowards who are schoolyard bullies (almost always targeting physically smaller or socially isolated children), and cowards who rape grandmothers and steal their handbags, and cowards who take advantage of people who are vulnerable, and cowards who tie cats to railway lines and kick little dogs and do other cruel things to animals, and cowards who like to call other people cowards.

When a coward rides a horse, he has to be seen to be dominating the animal, show it who's boss, and whip it into submission. Because cowards are usually stupid, it doesn't occur to them that horses need to be taught the things we want them to do. The whole world is an extension of the coward's own distorted thinking, and therefore the whole world is after power, and the horse's failure to do certain things the rider wants is seen as a personal attack on their “superior rank” – as a challenge to their “authority.” Cowards love the popularised (but wrong) alpha theory and they love having control over others. Ideas like equality, listening, negotiation, partnership in any relationship, whether a sexual relationship or a friendship or a work relationship or in animal training, are threatening to cowards. Cowards have to be seen to be wearing the pants. I think cowards are hollow in their cores, and have pathetic lives – although of course many cowards rise quite high in the ranks of human hierarchies due to their pathological attraction to power, and feel, at least in the thin outer crust overlying their hollow cores, that they have “arrived” and that they are more important than other people.




And...I just wanted to rewrite this, which was from my point of view:


In an extreme situation with a very scared horse I had to deal with rearing and plunging from the ground, but as long as you can maintain your relative position and keep out of harm's way that's quite manageable, certainly compared to trying to ride in such a scenario. That horse in that scenario was so freaked out he would have bolted home at top speed had I let the reins go. I had to keep him moving on the ground to dissipate some of that adrenaline. Standing still not an option. :wink: Took around ten minutes to calm him down. I then deliberately spent some time walking away a little from the bogeyman, and then walking back towards him. Over and over, talking calmly to the horse. Getting closer and closer. Until the horse tolerated the bogeyman. Praise praise praise etc, end of lesson.

In that particular case, it was a type of livestock in the neighbour's paddock that this horse had not encountered before. After that day, he was still suspicious and needed cajoling for a while, but never panicked at this type of bogeyman again. Or indeed panicked so blindly again. This was (ex-harness) Sunsmart during his first fortnight under saddle, at the beginning of developing a working relationship with me. It was really important that this situation ended on a good note (always is, but especially during this formative stage). And it's so much easier now, of course, seven or eight years later. A totally different kettle of fish once the horse sees you as someone you can rely on, etc. I think starting out is always the most difficult phase.
And now from the horse's perspective, with some humorous overlay! :wink:
NB: Horses don't paragraph. It doesn't represent their thinking style.


“I was carrying the monkey along when we got to a wide open space, and I noticed to my horror that there were tentacled, fanged, dangerous bogeymen in the field beyond. I immediately wanted to turn and put a safe distance between them and me. The monkey seems to be slow on the uptake – often unaware of these dangers and telling me to keep going. I found I couldn't get away and was panicking. Suddenly the monkey was next to me. I still couldn't get away. My mouth was uncomfortable whenever I tried to run. So I tried rearing up, but after a while I found that didn't advance my cause either. I still couldn't get away. The monkey was making soothing sounds and yabbering at me and walking in circles with me. The tentacled, fanged, dangerous bogeymen were still in the field. They hadn't gotten any closer. The monkey wasn't worried, and was pointing at the bogeymen. I don't understand this monkey. I was walking in circles and that made me feel better. I would rather have run away but I couldn't. I liked being in motion, and it calmed me. When I was calm, I felt better. It also pleased the monkey, though goodness knows why. The tentacled, fanged, dangerous bogeymen were still in the field. They were not coming after me. The monkey walked with me, sometimes away from them, sometimes towards them. Every time I walked towards them afresh, it was less frightening. Then I saw they didn't have any tentacles, but they did have fangs. Are there fanged vegetarians? The monkey seems to think so. The monkey was calm and happy, and praised me every time I went closer to them. Either this monkey is monumentally stupid, or it knows something I don't. Hmmm. I've got to keep my eye on this monkey. When I was really calm, and standing looking at the bogeymen, my monkey was ecstatic, and I got to go home! The monkey climbed up on my back again, and we ambled down the field. Every now and then, the monkey asked me to turn around and look at the bogeymen. They weren't following us. When we got home the monkey gave me a bath.”


In all seriousness, what the horse learnt:

Trying to bolt away didn't improve anything.
Rearing didn't improve anything.
He didn't get eaten by the bogeymen.
Walking in circles was calming.
The bogeymen looked less scary the longer he spent near them.
The monkey is a puzzlement.
The monkey was pleased when he got calm.
When he had calmly faced the bogeymen, he got to go home.

If you've got to deal with a panicking, plunging, rearing horse, it's imperative to understand that this is just instinctive equine defensive programming in the face of perceived danger. It's nothing personal and it's certainly not about the pecking order. No horse, herd leader or not, attempts to stop another horse from bolting – more likely it will join in – as this is an evolutionarily successful survival strategy that has served equines well for millions of years. The ones that didn't do it got eaten. It's quite amazing that we can train horses significantly (but of course never completely) out of such behaviours around humans – it's a huge achievement when you think about it.

This was without question the most frenzied and extreme behaviour I've ever hung on to from the ground. At the start, I thought to myself, “Holy barnacle, I'm 70kg and he's nearly 500kg and he's as quick as a flash, what chance have I got? And what's my injury risk here?” Letting go was an option, but it would have taken a while to de-programme him out of a successful case of “Bolting is a good thing to do.” Successfully staying with him meant making huge progress out of just one teaching situation. So I determined to stay with him as long as I reasonably could, and just stuck to what I'd been taught from the time I was nine: Don't attempt to pull on the horse – just resist gently. You can't win a tug-of-war with a horse, even with a bit. When he moves, move with him and stay at his shoulder and slow down his progress. At the shoulder, you're least likely to be stomped on or thrown over, and you have the most mechanical advantage over the horse's head.

I had to move pretty fast and there were some moments where I really didn't think I could possibly stay upright or hold on. Amazingly though, it worked. And none of this was remotely about pecking order – it was just about what he would learn from the situation. Impeding his instinctive flight meant he would be exposed to something scary and learn it didn't harm him after all. He would face the fear and settle down without running away. It just changed the scenario from the usual equine routine of “See scary thing, run” to one count of “I stayed with the scary thing and it was OK”. And although it's great if you can stay with it, it's actually not the end of the world if you can't – it will just mean you'll have to spend more time on that stuff in subsequent sessions.

It was not a fight by any stretch of the imagination, and it wasn't contest for supremacy – that's just a silly overlay people create with their emotional baggage. It was quiet patient persistence, and a positive educational experience for the horse: He panicked, but he stayed near scary things and eventually calmed down, and nothing bad happened, and the monkey was happy.

Of course, it's so much easier if the horses we ride are raised in wide-open paddocks surrounded by all sorts of different animals, machinery and sights, and then exposed to all sorts of places and travel while still young, as my Arabian mare was, with whom I never had a major fear scenario when riding. Sunsmart was born cloistered in a stable and small yard without any wide-ranging vistas, and growing up he only ever saw horses, and only solid-coloured ones at that, and beyond that a circle of enclosing bushland from which an occasional emu or kangaroo emerged, and when he travelled it was always to a generic trotting track. Therefore, although he is not what I would call a timid horse by a long shot, I had to do a lot of de-sensitising with him when I started riding him: Not to machinery or cars – trotters are super with that, since they encounter mobile barriers, ambulances and huge watering trucks sharing the track with them at every trial or race – but to those ubiquitous organic bogeymen, especially on trails!


Now back to the laundry! :wink:

:smileynotebook:
 

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And now on a lighter note, on 40+ we were discussing gadgets that might help fossilising riders to mount more easily, in case of dismount - work from the ground - get back on the horse scenarios. I think the best contenders are these :wink::






Of course, with these you'd have to ride stirrupless! :smile:

If you want to keep your stirrups, maybe this solution is more appealing:






Or we could put our heads together on this thread and engineer a few new solutions noone has thought of as yet! :grin:

:music019:
Only one more year before I get to join the 40-something thread; I was depressed about turning 40 next year, but looking at how much fun you guys have, it appears I have nothing to be afraid of :thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #208 ·
Only one more year before I get to join the 40-something thread; I was depressed about turning 40 next year, but looking at how much fun you guys have, it appears I have nothing to be afraid of :thumbsup:
Oh, you're 39 already? You don't look it! :) So, another person who has looked after themselves well? I look better at 44 than I did in my 20s, and of course that's just exteriors...I'm also more happy and balanced than ever, and have lots more fun. I've a friend who is in her 80s and uber-cool - I've known her since I was 30, and she completely removed my then-fear of ageing. She taught me that we're a person, not an age, and that we can be free of what people expect us to do, and live authentically.

My husband is also most helpful - one of those rare gems who scoffs at men who exchange mid-life women for young things to deal with their own mid-life crises. He says, "But you're beautiful, and how would I have a decent conversation with someone half my age?" On a daily basis he makes compliments from dawn to dusk, and we have a lot of fun. I think it's really helpful that we're both mentally and physically active people and eat very healthy food. I think a lot of the stuff that I thought when I was young was due to ageing is actually due to unhealthy lifestyles.

It seems that with your Germanic DNA, you've also got the high cheekbones and wide jaw that are ageing-friendly, and stop your skin from collapsing!

We have an endurance rider on 40+ who joined "prematurely" at 39, and so you're always welcome to "pop in" and say hello in our little community. Some real characters there, and yes, it's a great fun, and very supportive, thread. Excellent people. :loveshower:
 

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Discussion Starter · #209 ·
Beginnings

As I have previously mentioned:

I think one of the things that convinced my parents to send me to a horseriding course was that starting from around age 8, I christened my bicycle "Isabella" and then, with a similarly afflicted friend who had also named her bicycle, we put ropes on the handlebars for reins and rode the bicycles around pretending we were riding horses and making neighing noises. We also spent time volunteering at the travelling circuses to groom their trick ponies - and I was spending far too much time at the local dairy farm where we got our fresh milk, grooming the dairy cows - and making "showjumping courses" in the backyard for our dog to jump over! :smile:

I think they were hoping to cure me of all this by showing how reality isn't the same as our imaginings. For instance, how looking after horses is hard work (the riding school I went to focused a great deal on horse care, and so we mucked out, groomed horses, tacked them up, untacked them, washed them, led them around to dry, picked out and tarred their hooves, fed them, raked the arena etc). Actually, I enjoyed all those things...and I guess we all got bitten by the bug.

The next few posts tell the story of how the journey with horses began for us as a family (meaning my family of origin).
 

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Discussion Starter · #210 ·

Reitschule Eurastetten



Horse in the wash bay by the stable barn at Reitschule Eurastetten, 1981


My riding-bicycles-with-reins friend started taking riding lessons at Reitschule Eurastetten, and I remember her red-cheeked enthusiasm in the ante-room where students changed their shoes and left their bags before entering our Year Three primary school classroom, telling us about the horses! She and I also used to go volunteer at travelling circuses together, and we would groom the trick ponies and muck out after them. Coincidentally, I also used to groom the dairy cows at the small farm where we used to get fresh milk, such was my enthusiasm for large animals!

To weave together a more cohesive story, I compared notes with my mother recently. I asked if it was because of this classmate that we ended up at the same riding school, and she said, “No, it's because I used the telephone directory!” :) Another friend of mine was riding in Fürstenfeldbruck, a regional centre with a large riding school.

Eurastetten was a quiet rural hamlet nestled in pretty scenery. The small riding school had a farmhouse and the traditional connected farm outbuildings, all in limewashed white, with green doors. What used to be horse stables, cow stalls and general storage was now converted to housing horses only. The hay loft remained intact, and a small tack room had saddles, bridles and other gear neatly arranged in rows. A small separate building with a single large loose box inside was used to quarantine new horses coming in, and for horses who might benefit from the extra space during illness. Behind the stables was a sand arena surrounded by a log fence. The doorways leading out of these buildings were low and you had to take care with (adult) human and horse heads alike. I also remember that an obese multicoloured billy-goat with hooked horns who went by the name of Henri used to run loose all over the place, indoors and out. He wore a collar which was helpful for situations where he had to be moved out of the way.

The larger riding schools all had indoor arenas and showjumping facilities. Our small riding school had a single outdoor arena that was used all year around. Riding in the snow was fun. In torrential rain nobody turned up. In summer, things could be dusty. When we learnt about jumping, the obstacles were brought into the arena and then removed again later. We might not have had Olympic facilities, but things were laid-back and cosy, with a friendly, supportive atmosphere, and the riding programme was rigorous. Most of the boarders weren't interested in competitions, but they were very interested in riding their horses on the wonderful rural trails in the surrounding countryside. Some of the boarders even drove their Warmbloods in carriages to make a change from riding. They used traditional, ornate Bavarian harnesses, and the horses were hitched in pairs.

The riding school no longer exists. From what I can gather, it is now a boarding facility only, and is occasionally advertised as night accommodation for horses and riders on longer treks known in Germany as “Wanderritte” - with my erstwhile riding school teacher, Monika Skarabela, as proprietor.

Sometime early in 1981 I had my first riding lessons there. I've already written about those in earlier posts, and so will only add what my mother had to say about it. “It's all very well that you commended them for educating you well and not letting you on the trail before you could handle horses competently in the arena. But while they might have had that policy for children, I am not so sure they had it for adults, as the riding school owner once cajoled me onto a horse for the purpose of making up a trail group, when I was actually telling him I was nervous because of my back injury and wanted to stay with arena lessons for a while. Oh no, he assured me all would be fine and sent me off, but on that ride all the horses shied at a noisy vehicle, and I nearly fell off!”

The main section of the outbuildings where the riding school horses lived had a combination of loose boxes and tie-in stalls. The loose boxes were all taken up by private horses in agistment, and there was another adjacent section like that for private horses which you entered through a different outer door. Day turnout onto grazing paddocks was available, and when the riding school horses had their annual summer break, they stayed outside all day and night.

The horses I remember best were two huge chestnut Warmblood geldings, Meteor and Jaro, who were my favourites to ride.

Meteor was a massive Hanoverian and the most bomb-proof and laid-back of the riding school horses. He was good-humoured with beginners slipping around on his back, and easy to stop, which was thoroughly appreciated by all the novices. I liked his kind nature on the ground, and the sheer awe of riding this muscular mountain of a horse – the power this horse developed when moving along was incredible to a little skinny 9-year-old rider.

Jaro was a very tall horse with a lighter build and a fiery temperament. He was a Trakehner, and he loved a good gallop, and many people preferred not to ride him. When I moved beyond the “how do I stay on and not thump around on a horse” stage, I learnt to loved the sparkle of this horse, particularly when on trails. We teamed up well and I developed a very soft spot for him.

Viola was a towering Thoroughbred cross who had been my mount for my very first riding lesson. I had struggled to get on this 17hh mare and soon after that, hit the ground most ignominiously, when I lost the reins and leaned forward to get them back, and the mare decided to trot off at the same time (in my struggles to get the reins back I was probably forward-cueing her with my legs and seat without, of course, realising this). The mare was a head-tosser, and retrospectively, no wonder: The corners of her lips were always sore and at times cut and bleeding. The poor thing ought to have gone in a soft hackamore for a while to allow her to heal up, and then either kept bitless or tried in something other than a jointed metal snaffle until a comfortable solution was found. This mare was, in retrospect, exactly the build and temperament of a horse who is likely to face issues with a snaffle (narrow mouth, ewe neck, excitable).

Cejka was a medium-sized grey mare, possibly Warmblood, but with clear Arabian infusion. She had the sweetest disposition, and a straight shoulder that made her the most uncomfortable horse to trot on. Nevertheless, because of her sunny nature we loved riding her, whether in the arena or on trails.

My childhood classmate who went to Reitschule Eurastetten in recent correspondence reminded me of the existence of a draught or draught cross called Kalinka, who was also used as a school horse and who was so broad-backed, my friend wrote, “You had to do the splits to ride her!”

Riding teacher to the children was the aforementioned Monika Skarabela, a pleasant and patient young woman in her 20s, who drilled us all in our military-style group lessons several times a week. The proprietor, a Herr Walters, gave individual lessons to adult riders. He and his wife also arranged riding camps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #211 ·

Random Warmblood, Reitschule Eurastetten, 1981. Henri the goat is lurking in the background!



Private horse being washed after a trail ride, Reitschule Eurastetten, 1981. I am reasonably sure the barefooted girl was called Heike!



My riding teacher Monika leaning against the rails in the arena where our riding course took place, Reitschule Eurastetten, 1981.



Recent aerial photograph of the erstwhile Reitschule Eurastetten, which now appears to be a boarding facility only. The arena is still there to the left of the stable building and is now surrounded by trees. If you click on this photograph to get to the large version, you can spot a horse and rider practicing in the arena when the plane took the image! The wash bay and quadrangle are on the other side of the stable building. The residence is to the north-east of the quadrangle. There was another barn with loose boxes for privately agisted horses, seen here at the top right of the image. Most of the other buildings are neighbouring properties in this quiet rural hamlet.



Private horse in front of the stable barn, Reitschule Eurastetten, 1981. The open door leads to the tack room. I am fairly sure this mare was a German Trotter.



Private horse, Reitschule Eurastetten, 1981. I am reasonably sure this was another German Trotter. They were reliable, medium-sized, fairly light horses popular with a lot of recreational riders, and even some professional show jumpers. Olympic medallist Halla was the most famous example of a showjumping German Trotter.



Girl with Warmblood, Reitschule Eurastetten, 1981.



Probably another German Trotter, Reitschule Eurastetten, 1981.



Horse and owner, Reitschule Eurastetten, 1981.



This horse was called Pele and had the one loose box with an external window to look out of, in the private wing of the stable barn. Reitschule Eurastetten, 1981.



These are the two greys that appeared in separate photos above. These owners rode their horses, and also drove them in a traditional carriage for something else to do.



Horses in traditional Bavarian harnesses, Reitschule Eurastetten, 1981. The residence is in the background, and on the holiday riding camps, students stayed in the guest rooms high in the roof section of the house.

 

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Discussion Starter · #212 ·
Holiday Riding Camp 1981

I had turned 10 and advanced a fair bit in my riding, and was now considered competent enough to go on trails. My parents gave me a great treat by booking me into a residential riding camp at Reiterhof Eurastetten for the start of the summer school holidays. The grasses were starting to flower with gusto, setting off my perennial hay fever, but I still had a great time during my ten-day stay.

This was actually the longest time I spent away from home during my childhood, and because I'd always been a fan of Enid Blyton's boarding school books, I found this very exciting. Guest accommodation was in the upper levels of the Bavarian farmhouse, and children went two to a room. The girl I shared with and I had a cosy little attic room with a small window that looked out over the outbuildings. We could see cars and horses come and go from our lofty vantage point, and look out for Henri the goat. The other girl was great company, and in-between spending time with horses, taking lessons and going on trails, we invented games and entertainments for ourselves and talked into the night.

We helped Frau Walters with food preparation, and were well looked after. I remember taking meals around a huge farmhouse table, and also, on warm sunny days, alfresco meals, sitting at the outdoors table. Frau Walters set up her deep-frier outdoors and made us potato chips to go with schnitzels, vegetables and salads. In the evenings we often had the typical black farmhouse rye bread, slathered with butter and with a spread of cheeses, cold meats, pickles and salads. I distinctly recall that this is where I first developed a taste for salami, which I had hitherto hated. I also remember my mother's great surprise when I ate salami with gusto at my first dinner back home!



My riding camp roommate, Reitschule Eurastetten, 1981.
 

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Discussion Starter · #213 ·

Warmblood, Reitschule Eurastetten, 1981.



Our riding teacher Monika holding the now saddled Warmblood as a rider prepares to get on for a trail ride. There was a bit of a trick to mounting these tall horses, especially if you weren't fully grown yet!



Horses out to pasture during Summer Riding Camp 1981. Personal favourites Jaro and Meteor are in this photo, but I can't work out which is which. Regrettably we never thought to photograph them up close.



This just might have been Viola, the mare I had my first-ever lesson on in 1981. Without notes, I am reduced to hunches here 34 years later.



Eurastetten was surrounded by lovely rural scenery, and a haven for trail riding - and a trail rider riding out can just be seen in the background. In Europe, very little agricultural land is fenced, and there is a public right of access to service tracks on private agricultural land, to all harvested cereal fields, and to all forestry tracks. This makes it far easier to ride in the countryside than in Australia, where all agricultural and private forestry lands are fenced and have no right of access. In Australia, we are restricted to riding in state forests, on road verges and on animal-access zoned beaches. Unless you live right next to a state forest, this can make things difficult.



Horses enjoying the summer pasture, Reitschule Eurastetten, 1981.



More horses enjoying the summer pasture, Reitschule Eurastetten, 1981.


 

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Styles for riding that fast trot vary, as you can see here:

Prix Chimay (trot monte) - YouTube


Personally I always post at speed. I suppose in a race most prefer to lean forward like in TB races and just stand it out because it probably unbalances the horse less at speed and hence given them a competitive advantage.
This horses in this clip move beautifully! Love this thread btw! :D I'm still reading my way through, ha ha.
 
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Discussion Starter · #215 ·
Hi Megan, welcome to this thread! :) Hmm yes, it's getting a bit long, but then, I've always paper journalled avidly since the time I was a kid. Doing a public journal on HF was something new to try, and I suppose it's made me go back and write down all sorts of horse-related things, past and present, so that it might make sense to other people. But, I used to fill at least 200 A4 pages a year in tiny handwriting in my paper journals, and I don't expect this is going to be that much different! :rofl:

I just enjoy writing. Doing a public journal means there is the chance that my sharing will actually result in other people thinking, or laughing, or reflecting, rather than another volume getting stashed in the cupboard! :) I know there are a number of journals here that I really enjoy reading. It's kind of like real-life books...

How's your pre-vet course? Anything interesting? Or are you getting bashed with calculus and history? ;-)
 

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Wow Sue; I loved reading about all your childhood riding adventures in Germany; glad you also had some pictures to share. I've been wanting to do the same thing about my riding journey but I'm having a hard time finding a lot of pictures as this was way before the digital age ;)

So far I have 18 pictures, so I could probably do something with that. I can't decide if I should start a new thread or add it to Ana's journal? Also, how do you add text in between photos?
 

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Discussion Starter · #217 ·
Hey Frlsgirl, I vote they ought to go on your journal, and I'm dying to see them! (I have archaeological tendencies :rofl:). My husband scanned my old photos and colour-corrected some of them as they are really showing their age. Text between photos? I just type between the photos... with the photos and captions posts I just italicised the captions. I use the photo icon in the quick reply menu to place my photos - just enter the photo location in the pop-up box. My photos are all linked from external websites. Not sure if that helps...
 

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Hi Megan, welcome to this thread! :)

How's your pre-vet course? Anything interesting? Or are you getting bashed with calculus and history? ;-)
Thanks for the welcome!
I am loving my time in university! We have a farm on-campus that mainly raises pigs, goats, sheep, and chickens. We also have a couple resident cows. Every year we take the yearling heifers from another local farm to gentle, halter break, lead, groom, and basically pamper :) A lot of my animal science courses are on the farm so it's a very fun program of study. As for calculus, we only have to take level I calc, so it's not to bad, I've already taken it. History isn't a huge requirement and I fulfilled that by taking a very interesting course on ancient world literature. The big killers are chemistry, organic chemistry, biology, and microbiology! Yikes! :wink:
 
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Discussion Starter · #219 ·
Oh, ancient world literature, now that would be exciting! :) Any bedtime reading recommendations?

Chemistry is fine and logical as long as people use the IUPAC naming system, but when I went to university, the first course in that (inorganic chemistry) was done with the then-new IUPAC system, and the following course (organic chemistry) was run by a fossil who decided what was good enough for him was good enough for everyone, and he didn't use the IUPAC system, but the random-naming system previously employed (which has formic acid instead of methanoic acid, etc), so then it became a huge problem for anyone who'd been brought up on IUPAC names to even know what they were talking about, and it was such a waste of time rote-learning 300+ random names when their systematic names were easily linked to the length of the carbon chain etc. :twisted:

It's OK if you're not enjoying organic chemistry, which can be tedious even if you are doing it in the IUPAC system, but let me assure you that biochemistry is totally fascinating! :) And will tie in with genetics, and you'll go, "Ahaaaa - wow!"

I rather enjoyed microbiology, but we had a wonderful course. Have you had a chance to culture actinomycetes? They form such cute colonies! And they smell wonderful... they actually give earth a lot of its earthy aroma! Plus I'm a cheese freak, and loved learning about all the different microbial strains that make various different cheeses unique (along with milk type etc).

How nice that you have a good practical component! :)
 

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My photos are all linked from external websites. Not sure if that helps...

Ahhh that explains it; I attach my pictures under the "advanced" option; it doesn't let you type in between the pics when you do it that way I guess. I'll have to see about linking the pics somehow. I have probably 20 something pics now.
 
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