I realize I might seem a little naive when it comes to blogging. I am a newbie after all. I still can't figure out the ads, and the follower thing has me flummoxed. (but thanks to those who are)
But I absolutely love the thought of talking horses to people in different countries. It just astounds me that "talking horses" is basically the same, no matter where we live, the discipline we follow, or the saddle we choose to park ourselves on. I want to hear more about the differences in what we deal with. And Lasting Light brought my thoughts on this right out. So here's my input on those debates. Then I'll drift back to Sonita.
Here at the Southern tip of Africa my favourite horsey forum recently had heated debates about the virtues of letting horses live out 24/7 vs stabling them at night, blanketing vs not blanket, riding with a bit vs bitless etc.
Stabling: I have kept horses in stalls, stalls with runs, pastures, pens with sheds, and any variation in between. Currently I have two kept close to me at a big pen and shed type facility, and three, including the love of my life, running like lunatics on 80 acres.
Stalls have a purpose. They keep a horse safe. They keep a horse clean. They keep a horse convenient to my needs.
I have used stalls to my benefit to teach a horse patience. A horse in a stall has to wait. They wait for food, water, exercise, companionship, sunshine and cleanliness. (Who remembers the big 4?)
They become patient. Or crazy. Usually a little of both.
Horses who accept stalls are easier to haul, load, show and take to the vet.
So if possible, I like all my horses to learn to live in a stall. Then I try not to ever do it to them again.
Horses are prey animals. In order to feel safe and secure they need to be in a group, in the open and able to see with those beautiful, wide set, giant eyes.
Horses in stalls can't see anything but walls, are totally alone, and can't feel the wind or smell the night air.
Stalled horses are the horses who crib, wind suck, weave, pace, chew, get cast.......you get my drift.
Stalls with runs: A little better, but still more of the same.
I like the concept of horses in at night and out during the day. It's a trade off between my needs and theirs. I sleep better knowing they are as safe as I can make them. They still learn to behave in a stall. They get to run and be horses during the day.
Pastured horses get kicked, bitten, stuck in the fence, escape, let out, are far away and can be harder to catch.
When I go to visit my yellow mare I stand on the top of the hill entering into her pasture. I holler and she comes running hard (if she feels like it), her herd mates in tow. She is banged up, yet fit and content. When I see her run with the gang, her tail flagged, kicking up her heels, pounding through gulley's and up hills, I know she's in the right place. She hasn't been out with other horses since she was a year and a half. She is calmer, more physically fit (interesting since I rode the crap out of her) and obviously happy.
Yet the risk I take turning her out lays heavy in my mind. I also like to weigh how bad the bugs and predators are before I leave them out 24/7.
Blankets. I hate them. They are a pain. I get their purpose. Once again, for our convenience. If we need to keep them clipped or under lights, they have to be blanketed.
Horses with healthy winter coats never need a blanket. The winter hair stands up and traps air and heat to warm the horse. Blankets flatten hair. So a horse with a winter coat is colder in a blanket than without it. I'm serious, ask your vet.
If we turn them out with dried sweat flattening their hair they'll get cold. Which is why I'm a big fan of coolers. And curry combs.
I will blanket a horse if they are sick. Clipped. Kept under lights. Extremely thin. That's about it.
Bitless vs. bridleless
Obviously I am a bit fan, since I ride bridle horses. I love the science, timing and development that goes into a bridle horse.
My biggest concern about any horse in my care is that they have the highest chance of survival if they go out into the world tomorrow. I don't kid myself that I can guarantee they get to stay with me forever. I don't know what life has planned for me.
Each one of my horses rides in a snaffle, then a hackamore (bosal) and if they're with me long enough, they go into the two rein and then the full bridle. Every horse I ride( even Sonita) will happily tool down the road in a ring snaffle, even if they've been in the bridle for years. Not a one of them needs any kind of special equipment, riding method, or a deep understanding of their little horsey psyche in order to ride them. That's my way of ensuring they have a good shot at a great home.
So that's my input. Later gators.