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Discussion Starter · #3,061 ·
I'm glad you enjoyed that novel, @gottatrot. I think Murakami wrote an incredible inside portrait of depression at the start of that book. I like how the healing process eventually happened for the main character. Isn't it typical that after he was ostracised, HE was the one who felt defective, until he eventually discovered the bigger picture.

That's an acceptable winter coat on your mare and still less fluffy than a non-Cushings Connemara. Sunsmart was about like that until a week or two ago and is now starting to dreadlock underneath again as the hair grows longer. This is how he looked at the end of last spring, just starting to shed:



That's just too hot and horrible for the poor horse, and all those knots... I hope he doesn't get that bad again. I'd need to sedate him to clip him and even then... but that was on 1.5 tablets a day. Now he's on 1 and I don't know that's such a great idea. I don't know if the hair went that super-long because of the crisis he'd had in March and if it would be any better this year but it's already becoming unacceptable again. Also I'm worried the dose is too low now and he'll crash again before too long if I don't return him to 1.5 tablets...
 

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Something I've read is that not every horse will have an improved length of coat even if all the other symptoms are better. I'm not sure if the coat growth relates to a different process of the endocrine system, but my vet warned me that I might still have to clip Amore even on the Prascend. Does he hate clipping enough you'd have to sedate him? I've clipped a few horses, but the only one that couldn't adjust to it was a barely handled donkey. Something I've noticed is that Amore's coat was getting progressively thicker and longer each year until I started her on the Prascend. But it seemed to arrest at that point once I started her on it. She didn't go back to the shorter coat she had when younger, but it hasn't gotten worse. I hope Sunsmart's coat will change back. I've seen a couple horses with untreated Cushing's and hair like a musk ox in the summertime.
 

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Maggie's coat has been behaving oddly this year. It's mid-summer, and she still has a few longer wintery patches on her rump and along her barrel that haven't completely shed out. The rest of her coat is slick and shiny. I have gone over those patches with various curry combs and they just aren't budging. She also has stereotypical sensitive chestnut skin so I can only attack the hair so hard before she wants to jump out of her skin. This is the first time she's ever held on to hair so long, though it took her into the summer to fully shed out last year as well.

Her winter coat has never been overly thick, in fact, I'd say both Fizz and Isabel are hairier than Maggie in the depths of winter. But the past two summers, she's taken by far the longest to shed out.

She's been on 1 tablet of Prascend for just under a year now- I believe we started her in October of 2020. She's always had the 1 tab of Prascend- vet started her at that dosage (vs. starting with a smaller dose for "loading" and then ramping up) and we haven't made any adjustments. She actually tested in the "Cushing's negative" ACTH range during spring bloodwork this year, but we kept her dosed as she was before even after the better bloodwork this spring.

Not sure if a sample size of 1 is any help, but figured I'd relay our experience.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3,064 ·
Thank you for sharing your own observations and reading about Cushings horses, @gottatrot and @egrogan, much appreciated.

That dreadlock hair coat Sunsmart got the winter and spring after his Cushings crisis was far worse than anything before. When he started with Cushings, he was just a fluffball in spring, but not going lumpy or getting Rasta locks - his coat got over 15cm long in places.

@gottatrot, it's not just clipping. Sunsmart had the worst ground manners of any horse ever at my parents' establishment - and the best work ethic once you were in the cart or on his back. Cause would be combination temperament, frustration at the lack of social contact and exploration he had as a solitary stallion behind electric fencing and surrounded by paddocks full of other horses, poor emphasis on groundwork - it was always rush rush rush to get to the cart stage with my father, who just did not know how to take his time and just would not do the foundation level things that are best done before you inevitably get into trouble in a cart or saddle if you don't - like, he never actually taught his horses to slow down on the ground but then expected them to be able to do it in the cart, and the ones he had trained were really bad at that, especially in pressure situations - and he produced neurosis in animals because his own rubbed off on the more nervous of them, and he didn't desensitise them to weird/scary things, instead trying to banish anything weird or scary from the place, and even having a go at people for wheeling bicycles along or wearing flappy skirts that blew in the breeze etc. Anything that scared the horses was "verboten" but at the same time, and paradoxically, you couldn't point out to him that his horses were getting emotionally and mentally damaged by his institutionalisation of them and not letting them have herd life and places to explore on their own.

Anyway, Sunsmart improved massively with his ground manners within a year of my adopting him and bringing him to Albany when he was 12, but he's still not easy about some things (because they weren't taught early enough, which is where all that rushing and cutting corners in early training ends up leading, especially in a horse that is very defensive). When I first got him, he didn't want to be touched or groomed at all but would tolerate tacking up because he knew that would lead to an interesting outing and exercise. I'd have to tie him short and groom him carefully because he was so ticklish over the ribs as well, and do it quickly - and if he tried to turn around and bite I'd stick the dandy brush in his gaping jaws and say, "Oooh look, you've got a dandy brush! Aren't you clever!" 😁

Eventually he started to enjoy aspects of being groomed - he loves getting his neck, shoulders and hindquarters done but is still really sensitive on his ribs and belly - and that's with a brush. If he's got anything near his belly that needs attending, like a wound or scratch, I have to hold a hind leg up and get someone else to tend to the issue while sort of hypnotising my horse with a mixture of growling at him not to even think about it and then the moment he relaxes making encouraging noises etc. Doing anything near his ribs or belly is really difficult - and clipping, well, I really would have to sedate him, for those parts anyway; I could probably desensitise him enough on the less ticklish/guarded bits of his body, but his ribs and underside are exactly the areas in most need of clipping because they are the areas that dreadlock...

I don't have clippers and I'd probably do a terrible job. My vet though says she can sedate and clip so maybe I will leave that one to her. When he's sufficiently "drunk" he doesn't mind as much anymore, and even if he does, there's little he can do when he's like a delayed-reaction jellyfish...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3,065 · (Edited)
TWO BOOK REVIEWS

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn


Just finished Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects - excellent debut, really well observed, to the point of being physically disturbing. Basically, a young reporter is sent from Chicago to her hometown in Missouri to investigate an apparent child serial killing there. Camille hasn't been home in eight years and when you meet her dysfunctional family you'll understand why. In her mother you'll meet the pillar-of-the-community narcissist who is a nightmare to have as a parent but always manages to publicly be seen as the devoted mother of difficult children. Quite a trick, not infrequently performed - and since I grew up in a dysfunctional family, I saw the general formula firsthand.

So Camille deals with the fallout of not having been seen or loved as a child, while being viewed as spoilt and difficult through her mother's poor-me, ungrateful-child propaganda. There's a sickly younger sister who died in the back story and I immediately thought, "Could well be Munchhausen's by proxy," and so it turned out. In the present day there's a 13-year-old sociopathic half-sister. The protagonist doesn't "label" this kind of thing - most people don't - but if you've grown up anything like this, and done your background research in consequence, you'll get to that point eventually. The most useful thing when dealing with narcissists and sociopaths is knowing that's what it is - but Camille is still second-guessing herself, and still significantly susceptible to the emotional BS.

Mother and young daughter were my equal prime suspects from the go-get in consequence - based on narcissism/sociopathy. Sure, they weren't the only warped people in the little community, and were off most people's radar for the mysterious child killings in the town - but both struck me as eminently capable of it, and I could see how either of them could have dealt with the practical problem of separating and killing the victims, even as most of the small town thought the murderer had to be a man.

So which one was it? The protagonist got into hair-raising situations - to an observer with that perspective - with both of them, which again showed me how easy the child killings would have been for either of them. Meanwhile, we see a social tableau of systemic dysfunction - a small town where the wealthy care for little besides their status and being "higher-up" than the working folk - a distinction that repeats generation after generation, and begins in pre-school. These people live shallow, self-absorbed lives that do actual damage to the have-nots in the community (and the planet in general) - while those lower on the totem pole scrabble to make a living, and their labour enriches the wealthy more than it does them.

The pig factory farming backdrop is gruesome - I already don't like intensive animal production (I say that as a free-range producer) for all sorts of good reasons pertaining to environmental impact and animal welfare. Some of the practices described I'm pretty sure aren't legal in Australia, but wouldn't surprise me in the US, where the right to make an almighty dollar seems to be seen as holier than any other principle (sorry US readers, honestly my impression, and a guest from Connecticut we've been hosting three days agreed with this perception & Australia has its own big national flaws, the biggest of which IMO is this perception that Australians are better at "mateship" than any other nationality, which is total BS and actually they could take lessons from other cultures, particularly about being inclusive and not just having mates who look like you and think like you...). Factory pigs have about the same living standards as battery chickens - or barn chickens, if they're lucky - meaning, they're never allowed to live anything resembling a normal life for a social animal. It's pitiful. Not living a long life is one thing, but never actually living a proper life is quite another.

In the book this serves to draw interesting parallels to the way we treat each other, as well. How much do we stand by and accept as "normal"? Or do we challenge the system, and face the personal consequences?

For me, doing the latter has been impossible not to do from the go-get. Maybe because I've seen the absurdity, injustice and cruelty in society from little, even when it's presented as normal and laudable. I could never not see it, so I never had to wake up to the fact that there are huge problems with human "standard mode" in our society and systems. Possibly it was made easier by never benefitting particularly from these, compared to some people. There was less to give up that way... but still so much that needed giving up, and it takes a lifetime apparently... Also, I had some excellent people in my life along the way, which helped hugely (some of those, I only knew by their work, but even that can make so much difference).

A book to make you think, and squirm, in equal measure.

♣ ♦ ♣​

Adventures of a Waterboy by Mike Scott

After an initial random flick-through when I first got it over a year ago, I've been properly reading Mike Scott's autobiography Adventures of a Waterboy in the normal front-to-back manner. I'm up to the bit that recounts the recording of This Is The Sea and its aftermath and have enjoyed the read so far. Mike Scott writes excellent prose, reflecting extensive reading as well as listening to music in which lyrics actually matter - the best prose I've read by a rock'n'roller, if occasionally patchy - though that's a natural consequence of the breadth of subject matter which is part of what makes this bio interesting.

It's not just, "I did this, I did that, he said this, she said that" but little asides about what it's like to live in certain places, deft character sketches, the politics of the music industry, love affairs gone wrong, all sorts of commentary. Dry stuff like the logistics of touring clearly isn't going to bring forth soaring verbal flights, but talking about his favourite stuff is - and there's a lot of that.

The thing I like the best about this autobiography is that Mike Scott is largely grounded, even as he recounts some cringeworthy anecdotes of 20-something learning experiences. We've all had these; I respect that he's so honest about this, instead of editing it out or glossing it over. He wrote this bio 40+ and it's interesting to read as a 40+ and compare notes.

The Waterboys were one of my favourite bands growing up and remain so, but I'd never really read any interviews, feature articles etc, so this was the first solid printed thing related to Mike Scott and his group that I've immersed myself in. As a 40+ looking at a 40+ person's recount, I had to laugh: At 15 you're listening to the lyrics going, "Oh, I want to be that articulate and deep-thinking when I'm 25!" and then at 40+ you're looking at this autobiography going, "OMG, he was naive and had shipwrecks at 25, same as I did!" 😁

With me it's pretty obvious why that happened given my dysfunctional upbringing and all the corresponding baggage, most of which you don't even know you have and takes a fair bit of detective work to unravel. But as far as I know, Mike Scott didn't grow up in a violent, manipulative, distorting refrigerator household that never sorted out its shiitake or made peace in any meaningful way. He seems at any rate on good terms with his mother (although people aren't always frank in public about that kind of thing for various reasons) - but the father had deserted the family in Scott's childhood.

Almost everyone has something like that to grapple with, some hollow place that makes life difficult especially in early adulthood. However, compost can be used for growing flowers, even while you're still having blind spots and shipwrecks, and people can come out of things like this with a lot of compassion for others and a clearsightedness they'd not otherwise have acquired. The mind has that in common with muscles - if you don't use them for difficult things they kind of turn into custard.

The "Kate Lovecraft" story in Mike Scott's autobiography is worth reading as a prototype dysfunctional romantic relationship not uncommon in early adulthood - and I think her name must have been changed or she would likely have sued his posterior off for printing the story, given the character traits and incidents related. And, it's not the last cringeworthy romance related either - and that's how it often goes in real life anyway.

So how can someone write such amazing lyrics at 25 and still get sucked into a manipulative romantic relationship? The same way you can write excellent scientific literature at 25 or dance a beautiful ballet at 25 or discover a new mathematical theorem at 25 and still end up with personal shipwrecks. The same way marriage guidance counsellors themselves don't necessarily have glowing, trouble-free marriages. Because intellect and emotion are two different beasts and intellect is far more straightforward to work with than the subconscious. So you can sound intelligent and wise and deep and still struggle with interpersonal stuff. Also because it's always easier to deal with the things that are one step removed from your own life, than with your own stuff.

Another thing I like about this autobiography is that the person writing it mostly has his head screwed on straight about priorities in life. He doesn't give a barnacle about fame and wealth and status, he doesn't schmooze and play the game and constantly name-drop in self-important ways. He relates anecdotes about meeting his musical heroes that mostly don't make me cringe; he respects artists for their work rather than for their status etc.

I particularly liked this little snippet about going to Dublin, on the invite of a fiddler who's on quite a few of the albums in my personal collection:

I flew into Ireland on the fourth of January 1986 to visit Steve Wickham for a weeklong trip that turned into six years...In Steve's basement flat I was introduced to his wife Barbara and shown the guest room, a tiny chamber with a single narrow bed and a window onto a grimy backyard. Then we went out into the soul of a Dublin Saturday night...

Finding myself in Dublin was like going through the back of a Narnian wardrobe. I was in a convivial parallel universe, led by The Fellow Who Fiddles down colourful streets into dusty cafes where roguish men with scarves and glass eyes said things to each other like, 'I hear you're playing chess for money these days.' Or archaic newsagents' shops with fifties decor, which sold Irish cigarettes - Major and Carroll's Number One - and whose magazine shelves contained little songbooks with titles like A Collection Of Sea Ballads or Sing An Irish Song. I gathered this strange new world around me like a fog, quickly realising Dublin afforded me space and distance. The wilful voices of agents, managers and record companies were out of hearing. And after the shock of discovering, as I believed, that Kate Lovecraft could read my mind, Dublin was a safe haven. Even if Kate really was psychic the Irish cultural fabric was a hazy, mysterious domain of which she had no experience and couldn't penetrate. She didn't know where I was, didn't have my phone number or a mental image of my whereabouts. I felt secure.

I set about enjoying myself, regrouping my band and planning my next assault on the citadel of rock'n'roll. I wrote to Gary Kurfirst (American agent), split with him, hired a solicitor-cum-big-brother...and found myself a flat, a bright little cave in a leafy lane a mile from the centre of town. And that would be the end of one part of the story, and the beginning of all the others...
There's a few things in this book that raise the eyebrows of people not in Mike Scott's particular branch of human endeavour - like the apparently inevitable 1980s after-gig cocaine. Clearly a different work set to my own - as a science educator, my idea of fun shenanigans was to drink neon-orange fizzy Berocca straight from a laboratory beaker at a department meeting, as a layered metaphor. And my Berocca was the plain basic B-and-C vitamin type, not the American stuff with added caffeine and guarana. Trust me on two counts: 1) Berocca looks much more at home in laboratory glassware than in an ordinary drinking vessel, and 2) typical department meetings make extra B-and-C necessary for your health. o_O

In Ireland, brown recreational liquids probably superseded white recreational powders, but you'd have to ask Mike Scott, and anyway, that's inconsequential overall; as are the occasional assumptions that appear to be made about certain situations being related (...you don't know for sure what's going on in someone else's head and heart unless they tell you, and are honest, including with themselves). I'm much enjoying this bio for its language, stories, settings and illumination of what it's like to be on the other side of music I've loved since I was in school, and think it's one of the more readable rock autobiographies out.

And isn't this true...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3,066 ·
Construction note: I'm going to make an index for my first page, because this journal has become so complicated and long! Now that we can edit old posts, that's possible.

I've just put in a contextual preamble on the first page because otherwise the first post (which keeps getting "shown" on the forum's "recent posts" whenever I do a new post here) will give a really bad idea of this journal! 🙃
 

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I can imagine his ground manners when he came. Bones has such issues from that same treatment before I purchased him, and he only made it until 2 there. He overcame much of it much easier I am sure, but he will never let go of the self mutilating when he is overwhelmed or bored. Some things, like putting on fly spray, I just do while he throws a tantrum.

The horse my parents sold back to his owner, the one I called a ballerina, was very bad on the ground. He also was ticklish on his sides and would intend to bite during grooming. He was particularly rude to be around too, but a very talented horse ridden. I guess ground manners are irrelevant to many persons.

Cash is not my favorite on the ground. I assume it is because of his being started in prison be people without experience. He is pushy and sometimes (rarely) nervous, but that is a terrible combination. If something manages to make him worry I dread leading him. Maybe it is simply his nature though and not his start, because the horse will do the same to other horses in the corral. If he is upset he is so big that he simply expects others to get out of his way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3,068 · (Edited)
I can imagine his ground manners when he came. Bones has such issues from that same treatment before I purchased him, and he only made it until 2 there. He overcame much of it much easier I am sure, but he will never let go of the self mutilating when he is overwhelmed or bored. Some things, like putting on fly spray, I just do while he throws a tantrum.
The problem with "displacement behaviours" like self-mutilating and cribbing and other reactions to stress is that each time they're done, they deepen the "neural groove" - the pathway that's being established. Every behaviour becomes more ingrained with repetition, and after a while of this (like at the point your horse got to before you bought him, or my father's self-harming horse Chip got to) undoing the behaviour can be hard, as anyone who's tried to change their own destructive / useless habits will tell you. That book I just read, Sharp Objects, was narrated by a cutter - the self-harm brings release from stress through breaking tension and releasing endorphins etc, so there's an element of biochemical addiction to these kinds of behaviours - sort of like with OCD as well. If you can reduce the anxiety you reduce the behaviour, but to an extent the urge to self-harm will still be there in the next super-anxious situation.

If you're human you can think about this stuff and try to substitute one "release behaviour" with another - with a less harmful behaviour. For instance, it's easier for smokers to quit if they chew nicotine gum instead. That's not just because it's a less harmful way to get nicotine, but also because chewing something is a substitute release behaviour to smoking. I'm not sure how to teach a horse a better release behaviour though, that it does in its own time. All I know is how to take the pressure off and change its living circumstances, and reduce anxiety and boredom for it, and give it positive experiences that will give it endorphins without destruction. Which is what you're doing with Bones.


The horse my parents sold back to his owner, the one I called a ballerina, was very bad on the ground. He also was ticklish on his sides and would intend to bite during grooming. He was particularly rude to be around too, but a very talented horse ridden. I guess ground manners are irrelevant to many persons.
In my father's case, he was always rushing around as if chased by Legion. He had no time for anything, which was his own mindset. He had to do mostly two things: 1) His established routine (and God help anyone who tried to alter that routine in the slightest, which is one big impediment he had to learning new things or improving his general technique), and 2) progress towards laudable goals by his definition - making money, winning races, winning competitions, winning arguments. If it didn't potentially make money, it wasn't considered properly worthy - which is one reason I had so little support for endurance riding, gymkhanas etc - that was a mere hobby, nothing "serious", and was never going to repay the money invested in it, so if I wanted to compete I should race horses with him, he said - which I never had the desire to take him up on; I think horse racing is dull and corrupt, and I so much prefer other things one can do with horses, which have more communication and longevity in them - and for "serious" I had other plans for my life, like studying science and educating people.

The two main reasons I helped him in my teens and 20s (on holidays/weekends if I was around) were as payment for having a horse on his place, and because it was pretty much the only semblance of social activity I could get with him - we never travelled together as a family once we came to Australia, we didn't do family activities worthy of that name - I don't think watching TV together qualifies, for example. Family time was always the fa'g end of what was left when all the "serious" work was done - when there was no energy left to do anything else. I was never asked, "What would you like to do?" and if I voiced anything in that direction it was mostly just dismissed. I personally think spending your life mucking out stables that horses don't even want to be locked up in, over and over every morning, and spending your day walking horses into yards and then back again, and driving endless loops around training tracks in harness, is a miserable existence that achieves very little besides being a hamster wheel and a sort of genteel form of socially acceptable gambling. I don't see that it does the community any good, improves anything; and I don't think it's a great lifestyle for the horses either. It's just a hobby too, but one in which there is the illusion of it being a "business" - but do you know that old joke, "How do you make a million dollars with horses? Start with two million..."

He saw it as a business, but even in his best year he made less than an average salary, and that was before deducting all the expenses. He could have worked part-time as a cleaner and made more money than he made out of horses over 30 years, and still had half the day each weekday to actually spend with family or pursue hobbies that don't masquerade as business (like maybe travelling a bit to get to know the country he'd moved us to). And he actually had enough cash to retire by the time he was 40. Interesting retirement. I wonder if he would have spent more time talking to his children if he could have made money out of them. Meow. I think he just didn't know how to connect with other human beings. And I think some of his behaviours suggest he has OCD.

But I digress. So, because he was always rushing everywhere, his horses walked flat out with him all the time, and never got taught to walk slowly or, God forbid, stop, unless there was a really important reason to stop, like the ground had opened up a sinkhole or he'd accidentally arrived at the edge of a cliff. He was speed-walking his many horses from their stables into their many separate yards every day, so all the horses knew how to do, on the ground, was to walk fast when being led, and occasionally stop in an emergency, or when arriving at the tie rail. The only place they consistently stopped for more than half a second, in their whole training, was at the tie rail, when they were tied to it.


(...that's Sunsmart in 2009, the year I adopted him - several months in, and now actually standing still for increasing periods of time when asked to, even in new and exciting situations like this one, which was his first outing to a large water body, to challenge his hydrophobia! He had no idea how to stop anywhere except at the tie rail or an obstacle when I first got him - not on the ground, not when driven or ridden - he'd never been asked to do such a thing. Sure, he stood around in his paddock, but that just wasn't something you did around monkeys...until this particular monkey, apparently...)

The horses he'd not bred himself had actually been taught how to walk slowly and stop etc on the ground, and they did it - at least to begin with. They were his most successful horses - the ones that had been ground-trained by other people, and sold at yearling sale or as harness-started horses. Every single horse he bred and entirely handled himself at some point had an above-average problem with rushing in races, not being able to be restrained in races, and breaking gait in races - so many of his horses got made "out of draw" at mobile events so they'd not endanger other horses, or got sent back to trials for breaking up in races. That last horse of his who won his first start broke up every race after that and was eventually banned from participating in races - he'd bought that one as a yearling but it soon forgot its early halter education for lack of continued practice.

Other contributing factors to the horses breaking gait in races was that after the 1980s he stopped training with other people on a regular basis. He would just train the horses solo most of the time, and mostly at home, so that eventually, the first time his young horses were working in company was in an educational trial - and for most horses, that's just too much new stuff to handle all at once. Most horses start with training buddies etc, and gradually build up to trials. You don't just drop them in at the deep end and expect them to do well. Predictably, his horses would then have a poor experience at the first trial, getting upset and breaking gait, and if you aren't starting with a good experience the horse gets even more apprehensive next time around.

Eventually, my father even stopped using a stopwatch in his solo training, claiming he knew how fast they went. Once I went to the training track to time him and he was overestimating the horses' speed by 5-10 seconds a mile, which meant they were out of their depth in trials rather than comfortable with their speed. I bought him a new stopwatch as a birthday present and he used it a while before going back to using his "feel" for speed. All the while, horse performance was declining. Training wasn't anywhere near what it had been in the 80s when he started and had a successful strike rate with every horse he raced - back when he worked with another trainer and his horse and horses didn't just mostly work solo at home without a stopwatch.

What my father was good at was correcting gait problems with proper trimming and some corrective shoeing. This gave him an edge early on over the average competitor, with his horses who came to him with established ground and harness training anyway. He was also good at turning previously over-raced horses into good performers, and turning around horses who had been cruelly treated elsewhere (by that I mean, in this case, when interacting with humans during training). But he didn't get better with his weak sides because he could never admit he had any, or that he made mistakes. He'd never have read a how-to-train book by Tom Roberts because what could he possibly have taught him about horse training, etc. He was completely impermeable to any attempts I made to show him how to teach horses from the ground first the things they failed to do in harness - said I was hassling him, they weren't my horses, it was none of my business, why did I think I knew so much blah blah blah. And that's despite of the fact that I had spent years "buddying" his young horses during dangerous phases of harness education. It was my job apparently to shut up and do as I was told, and not to offer opinions on how to solve problems that were being encountered. Often I could influence the problems just by how I buddied the horse, without having to talk to him about it. But as I got older, I lost interest in working with him, and did it less and less.

It's kind of as if you're helping someone with mathematics and they can't solve a quadratic equation, but if you want to show them where the problem in their process is, they go, "What would you know about quadratic equations?" even though you can actually solve quadratic equations. I taught human beings in university and high school classrooms for nearly 20 years and only rarely encountered people like that - the vast majority are happy to have a sympathetic person help them learn things, and make it fun. I do recall one mature-age male university student who seemed offended by the idea that he should learn something from a young woman (as I was then) - least of all science! He was as repellent of my efforts to explain things to him and as aggressive as my father. He was so nasty I ended up sitting down with the senior coordinator to discuss it - and the senior coordinator said this student was making trouble everywhere, that he barely passed a course, and that he always threatened to sue his instructors or the university for failing assignments. I shouldn't worry about it; the student had form, he wasn't going to pass my class for two reasons: Unwillingness to admit he wasn't a brilliant student and seek and accept help, and lack of basic aptitude for science. He said the guy had a massive ego problem.

Yeah, and I had one very like that in my family of origin. Several, actually. Neither of my parents can admit they make mistakes, and therefore they can't learn from them. My father will never adopt a technique he didn't work out himself from first principles - he won't learn from other people, except occasionally through a book of his own choosing (never through a recommended book). I've learnt so much more than he ever did because I voraciously learn not just from empirical situations, but from all sorts of books and directly from other people, and I'm always quizzing other people about how they solve various problems. It's standard conversation for me and it's really interesting to listen to what other people say about how they solve problems or approach topics. When I was teaching, I learnt as much from my students as they learnt from me - because I was interested in them and how they saw the world. When I train horses, I learn more from them than they learn from me. Teaching and learning are two-way streets, in my world.


Cash is not my favorite on the ground. I assume it is because of his being started in prison be people without experience. He is pushy and sometimes (rarely) nervous, but that is a terrible combination. If something manages to make him worry I dread leading him. Maybe it is simply his nature though and not his start, because the horse will do the same to other horses in the corral. If he is upset he is so big that he simply expects others to get out of his way.
That is actually really scary! Most horses will go around other horses, and people. The ones that barge straight on like a semi-trailer can be really dangerous. Do you just lead him off a halter? Have you got any tricks for working with him when he gets like this, that are helping any at this point?

Julian's dam Juliet was a barger. Everyone had to disappear from space when she occupied it - horses, people, wildlife. I never led her without looping the lead rope around her nose so she wouldn't run off like a steam train with me water-skiing behind her when she got in the mood for it. If I was in her paddock and she was running, I cleared out of the path she was heading for very quickly. Most horses you can stop in the paddock if they're running, by standing in their path with your arms out to your sides. This one would have flattened you no questions asked. She was an alpha mare and the boss of everything. Not big like your Cash, but you know, it's not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.

I think Juliet would have done better if she'd been properly ground trained in the first place, and if she'd had a more interesting life. She was my father's most successful mare, won 7 races and placed in many more, set great speed records. She got especially bad after retirement; she was depressed and bored just standing by herself in her little sand yard day in, day out. She can't have thought human beings were a very good thing.
 

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I enjoy reading these perspectives from people who understand you can't just "make" horses do things and that some horses will always have difficult behaviors.
I was remembering Halla, who could be an excellent horse to lead around, and very light and responsive. Yet if she was afraid or needing to move, you better not stand in her way. Nothing you could do would stop her from pushing through or over anything to get where she was going. Thankfully you could circle her as much as was needed.
I just don't understand the perspective that you can simply "make" a horse do or be the way you "insist" they will be, if you just do it hard enough. That is just not true. People say they won't accept certain things, and therefore they don't happen. Sounds like a fairytale world to me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3,070 ·
Well, @gottatrot, sounds like human ego and a human superiority complex to me, and those are the rule rather than the exception. People are usually brought up with it from the cradle - this idea that they are the Lord of All on Earth, or all the so-called "lower creatures" anyway. That these things are there to do their bidding and to be used for convenience. That the human will is to be imposed on other creatures, since humans are so "superior" to "mere animals" - and that it's perfectly OK to bulldoze rainforest, scrubland, bushland, any of the increasingly scarce wildlife habitat and just annihilate everything to make way for human "development" - what would they say if someone drove through their own suburbs with a bulldozer and declared, "Well, there's so much suburbia already, we need to build something else here, and the inhabitants can just go find homes in the masses of other suburbia out there!" (Which is the line humans take with habitat destruction and wildlife displacement. For another angle to this - how do most mainstream humans react to the idea of helping human refugees - letting them live on their patch? You've got a spare room, can't a refugee have it? Overwhelmingly that would be a no, but do people think about being consistent, or just use any surface argument to justify doing what they want to do?)

I've a good friend whose hypothesis sort of differs from mine - she'd say it was lack of love, and lack of learning to love. Like everything is a big love deficit and if only that wasn't there. And maybe that's part of it, because to treat other creatures as if you're their rightful Lord and Master lacks love, as well as respect, including self-respect (and it lacks miles and miles of understanding and wisdom). Of course, humans will often do the same thing to fellow humans, especially those they perceive to be "lower" than themselves on this construct they make called a social hierarchy. I've often observed a strong correlation between people bullying other people, and bullying animals - including advocating the bullying of horses, and calling it training. There's this sense of entitlement that just sticks out like a sore thumb. I personally feel nauseated when I encounter it in its usual blaring, strident form.

Not all horse people, or animal people, are like this - a minority think differently. I think the First Nations cultures had, and some of them still have, a far healthier relationship to nature than the West. They generally recognised the interconnectedness of the biosphere, they traditionally didn't kill for sport but to eat, they acted to steward the species they relied on for food and to limit their own numbers. Most Westerners are sadly ignorant they're even living in a biosphere, and there's much killing for sport and people tellingly posing with one foot on the body of the animal they've just shot, and animal cruelty and neglect, and many don't think twice about cutting down a tree that's in your way or bulldozing several hectares of wildlife habitat to make a car park, or throwing rubbish out of the car. The idea of limiting your family size is seen as an interference with individual freedom. A human embryo is sacred but sentient creatures are kept in concentration camp conditions in factory farms with little thought. The sense of balance is completely lacking here - including in vegans, but that's another story.

It is possible to treat other beings with respect, including if they are your food animals. It is possible to have mutually beneficial relationships with companion animals, where the companion animals don't get chronic problems from our lack of consideration for their biological requirements (and decent treatment should be equally afforded to food animals). The problem isn't that we need to stop eating animals or working with animals - the problem is how we do these things - that we do them with care and humanely and with minimal suffering, and that we stop thinking ourselves entitled to consume resources willy-nilly and reproduce above replacement. The problem is that we need to grow up in the West, and stop acting like we're three and the world revolves around us and we can do what we like.
 

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I haven’t been on in a few days. I understand what you say with your father. My own father makes particularly talented horses. They do not have the deficits in performance that your father’s developed, but they are hotter animals. Everything is sensitized and requires an edge. He can work that edge perfectly well, excepting on the roan horse he gave away. That edge gives his horses a boost above any competition.

He doesn’t compete anymore, but trust me when I tell you that when he did he won. His horses, like your father’s, are expected to do everything in a rush. Unlike your father’s, they must be taught to control themselves and go slow if that is his expectation. It isn’t a mosey type of thing though. Also unlike your father’s horses, they lack boredom. They run together and are used both for work and for show (when he showed). I think the work aspect is the only reason many of them didn’t lose their minds with the pressure.

Some horses, like my mare, could not stand the pressure of expectation. They lost their minds to their anxiety. Maybe that was the roan’s problem as well. I wondered what would happen if I tried to desensitize him. I figured though that I would be afraid of him always. He had my number, so there was no reason for me to try.

I think that your friend is right. We forget to love. I think some people are scared to love; it makes them too vulnerable. So, they see things apart from themselves.

Cashman is quite scary when he is like that. Luckily it is very rare anymore. I only lead him with a leadrope or his reins when I am riding. I’ve taken to trusting him again, but I would much rather face him from his back than the ground if he were scared. His plowing me over that time was one time too many, and if God hadn’t stepped in I’m sure I would have been entirely damaged.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3,074 ·
FOREST OF THE ENTS: OLD-GROWTH KARRI/TINGLE FOREST

We've been doing a lot of coastal walking, and Brett wanted something special for his birthday yesterday. I pored over the Bibbulmun maps near Nornalup and found a likely section which met with HRH's enthusiastic approval, in the rare remaining old-growth Karri/Tingle forest, the majority of which has historically been pillaged for timber. Most tourists go to a curated place on the South Coast called the Valley of the Giants. The Bibbulmun track is walkers-only and takes you to places you will meet very few if any people - because most modern people don't want to get out of their cars and go for long walks. Bit sad, but given the human overpopulation, this makes for special experiences to those of us who like walking.

Karri forest has an understorey with a distinctive peppery smell that's unique to this forest; it's like being in a building filled with exotic incense. Walking in the Karri feels a little indoorsy, because you don't see much sky and your footfalls are so muffled by the thick "carpeting" underfoot. Brett says these forests have a cathedral quality - with tall columns going way way up and the same sense of hush, and very similar light.

The sheer size of the older trees is jaw-dropping...

...and to think that this was once the norm in many forests, before human destructiveness took over post-industrialisation. 😢

You literally can't get even a quarter of a tree like this into shot with a camera.

It's like a Lilliputian experience.

These trees are hundreds of years old - typical life spans of Tingles exceed 400 years and they attain heights over 75m. Karris reach similar heights and live to 300+ years if people will let them, which they usually won't. Old-growth trees are full of nesting hollows for birds and native marsupials.

Creek crossing...lots of water in the landscape as you'd expect from this incredibly wet winter, more on that later...


In the "cathedral"...and while these photos give the appearance of having been shot lying down looking up, this is in fact just from face height walking along.




It's very oooh-aaah... very Lord of the Rings, which was shot in New Zealand for a reason - there's so few forests like this left in this world... NZ and Australia still have patches like this, though sadly, the vast majority of the forests even here have been either cut down entirely to make room for agriculture, or looted for timber.

Here's an old eucalyptus tree (both Karri and Tingle are eucalypt species) hollowed out progressively by fire, which is one of the natural mechanisms for making animal shelters.

This is a close-up of a Karri trunk - no wonder it's called Eucalyptus diversicolor...

After a few kilometres, the Bibbulmun track joined up with a vehicle access track that was going to the famous Sappers Bridge, one of the few over the Frankland River and built largely with natural materials. We needed to cross that bridge to get to the other side of the river and up into the hills to our walking destination, the Frankland River camp site...


We came from the "X" at Boxhall Road and were going to head via the second "X" on the track map to the campsite, and then loop around and return on the riverside track (dotted red line) to check out the rapids en route - which would have been a nice long walk but alas...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3,075 ·


Our birthday-person-on-his-birthday-walk, Brett, was laughing till he was bent double, and of the opinion that this sight compensated him for the walk being rudely cut short. 😄 He also said he "couldn't get over it" bwahahaha, puns are such fun. 😜

I have been telling people for two months about how unbelievably wet this winter is. So here's the Sappers Bridge all washed out, and they're going to have to do repairs, because the road surface has been undercut and worn away so that the bridge has become inaccessible structurally, and not just because of current flooding. Typically for bloody-minded me, I was looking at the railings to see if a pedestrian could cheat their way across after all, but I'd have had to jump 2 metres across rapids to the edge of the bridge, onto the concrete base before clambering on the handrails etc, and of course I can't jump 2 metres, and God only knows how many metres I'd have had to jump at the other end, plus we have a dog etc.

This was the view of the oncoming and outgoing water respectively:


If you're wondering about the foam, it's a natural phenomenon linked to the tannins in the water. When we got home we found that the bridge was first closed because the foam had made it impassable for vehicles - here's an official picture of that:

That was before water levels kept rising and the bridge itself was flooded, and the roadways to it washed out. 😵

Here's a historical image of this bridge prior to being fitted out with its metal rails, to show how much water there usually is beneath it when things are quiet...

So we can agree - that's a helluva lot of water running down the Frankland at the moment...

Therefore we retraced our steps, but it was still a lovely walk back, plus of course we have 2.5 weeks off from Thursday and plan to do a lot of hiking on new-to-us trails. We're planning to do that circuit walk properly when the waters recede - although that probably won't be till September.

Brett thought it would be hilarious if I stood in front of a certain road sign partly obscuring its writing...

Backtracking...

When we got back on the proper foot-only trail, we found an uprooted old tree. Here's a human for scale:

It's such a fabulous forest.

The foreground giants are Tingle, the background white trees are Karri.

And then we were back where we'd parked.

We hope you've enjoyed your virtual Australian Ent-forest adventure! 🙂

There's a few more photos on Flickr directly as usual...but this time I've used most of them in the walk report because it was such a fantastic place...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3,077 ·
I feel incredibly lucky to live on the South Coast, @Knave. Career sacrifices were made to do it - neither of us wanted to live in the city and it was here or Tasmania for us. 💫

That foam is something... makes you think, "OMG, did the shampoo factory have a spill?" 😋 Have you seen this kind of thing in the US? Just from plant substances in the water?

I hope things are well on the ranch. Are you still home schooling, or is school back? Are things busy? My food garden is still drowning. No point planting anything into the mush. I've got a bunch of spinach and lettuces drowning underwater in one of the lower-lying beds. Some surviving stuff further up, including some prize-looking broccoli plants growing (but who knows, they may only end up having tiny heads for all that!). I decided to put half the area into potatoes in spring, seeing as that amount is fallow now and I can't do anything with it. Brett says I should try growing seaweed...
 

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This walk was exceptionally breathtaking, loved all the photos of those majestic trees. And that bridge washout was something, particularly with the "typical" shot of the little trickle underneath. I too loved the foam. I can't recall that I've ever seen anything like that on fresh water, only at the ocean. I will have to think about it more.

Though our seasons are reversed, we're having the same kind of wet weather and starting to worry about flooding.

And did anyone else see the photos from all the flooding in Germany this week!? This one I pasted in below was in the NYTimes on Friday, and I have to admit that after picking my jaw up from the floor at that massive series of...sinkholes (?) on the right, the first thing I noticed was that the decimated property in the front left corner had to have been a horse farm, with the block row of stables, turnout pastures, and trailers flooded in the back. I haven't been able to stop wondering if the horses were in there when the land gave way. And of course dozens and dozens of human lives lost across Europe...
1115716
 

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Discussion Starter · #3,080 ·
I'll try to send some your way, @knightrider - how do you do an anti-raindance / send-the-rain-where-it's-needed dance?

@egrogan, I saw that too. 😲 Thought it was a horse place also. All the buildings stayed intact so far which is good, though no doubt they'll have to be abandoned...have a look at the human residence and imagine the view out of their front windows adjacent to the massive breakaway... I don't think anyone is going to be able to fill that hole in and make it structurally sound again. Perhaps if you could divert some lava from an active volcano through a wormhole...and even then you'd only have a plug, and erosion could continue around the edges of it...

One hopeful thing here is - any animals in buildings would have been OK (except they were locked in buildings, which you know I think isn't a good way for horses to live). Paddocks that crumbled at the edges lost 1/3 maximum. So now we're down to probabilities if any animals were in those fields, but I think the chances of horses surviving in that situation are greater than 2/3 because they seem to be able to sense things like this coming and react to it - if they have the space to run.

Our horses here went for a very fast run around the back of the house yesterday. It sounded more urgent than when they run for fun. Three minutes later there was a sudden short rainstorm. They could sense it coming and ran into the forest for cover. They do this a lot - I remember a time Brett and I were working in the "hill paddock" about 300m from the house. Then the horses, who'd been grazing near us, as an orchestrated group suddenly ran flat out for the trees. We weren't wearing raincoats, and I immediately ran with them. We nearly made it to the house before we were deluged... 😄
 
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