Monday, May 19, 2008

Surely, This Mess Can't Be My Fault?

I'm on a reprieve. I was supposed to show a horse to a client today, and she called in sick. I guess that's OK. It's not like I need the dough or anything. (grumble, whine)
It's all good, because this client falls into the category of a topic that's I keep chewing on.
She's responsible, educated, and loves her horses. She has developed a working relationship with me that is based on trust.
I keep thinking about all the other brand new, about to be horse owners out there.
Who's responsibility does the welfare of our horses come down to?
The buyer? The seller? The owner, or trainer?
We are a society that loves to blame somebody else for our whoas. (I know I'm misspelling woe, you good grammar cops you! I'm trying to be funny.)
I do my fair share of vilifying slimy horse traders, greedy trainers, and self serving clinicians.
Today I'm after the owner.
I'm after the parents who buy their kid a horse, and never look again, except to sign checks and bitch about vet bills.
I'm after the kids who ride their horse into the ground because they don't know any better.
I'm after the 40 year old woman who buys the horse she's dreamed of since she was a little girl, and finds out it wants to kick her teeth in rather then be caught, AFTER she brings it home.
Every one of these scenarios leads to horses at a sale. Horses that get picked up by the killers.
I'll start with the parents.
MOM!!! DAD!!! WAKE UP!!!!
Would you buy little Morgan a car and hand her the keys, just because she's driven her friend Buffy's car around the block a few times?
Would you buy her the cheapest car possible, and never hire a mechanic to look at the tires, or under the hood, especially if you knew nothing about cars?
Would you never check to see who she was driving with, where she was driving, or how she drove the car she was given?
Would you cut corners on maintenance and repairs on that piece of crap car because you didn't realize how expensive it would be?
Is anybody that stupid?
OK. Maybe you are, but I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt.
A horse is not a car.
It is a living, breathing, thinking, feeling being that has been dumped on your mercy. Not little Morgan's. Yours.
If you are too stupid to educate yourself on the reality of horse ownership, and all the inherent responsibility that comes with it, then your daughter will be too.
If you don't help her learn to be a kind, loving , and thinking horse owner, than she will be dumping the horse as soon as it hurts her, (it will) isn't competitive enough, (it won't be) or is permanently injured through ignorant use. (I guarantee that one)
If your actions teach her that you don't care enough about her to keep her safe, or that her horse is a throwaway, how's it going to go for your grand kids?
Now I'm after the kids.
Please, please, work as hard at learning about your horse as you worked your parents to buy the horse in the first place.
This is your horse. He depends on you for everything. He will give you everything he has in return for a fair shake.
Read books. Watch videos.
Now is the time and place for NH clinics. There's a few I wish you wouldn't go to, but any of them are better than none at all.
Take some basic dressage lessons. Even if you want to chase cans.
Learn how a horse thinks. How he works. How much joy there is in becoming his buddy. In understanding his body language.
Talk to your vet about nutrition. Feet. I can't say enough about feet. I'm big on asking vets for recommendations on everything from farriers to riding instruction. They know who's safe. They know who's honest. TRUST YOUR VET.
If you only want to ride then go to a riding stable. Ride a friends horse. Don't buy one.
If you only want to ride, you don't really want a horse.
Last but not least, I'm on to the 40 somethings that bought their dream horse and suddenly went Uh Oh.
I love you guys. You are my bread and butter. I am happy you have your horse. Now read all of the above and call me. Quick. I mean it. Hurry. And get out your check book.


SolitaireMare said...

Amen Mugwump! Great post!

It's too bad horses don't come with a new owner's manual. If they did, this should be the introduction!

lmaointexas said...

Mugwump, I have looked around for your email. I would love to talk to you about sending my mare to you for some working cow horse training.

Please email me when you get some time. Thanks so much!


P.S., I love this blog!

Justaplainsam said...

Not that I wish any of this drama on anyone, but Im glad I'm not the only one!

Im on the fence about one of my students, as I stated in a reply on yesterday's post. She is too competitive. To the point where she is going to hurt her horse or the comming foal. At first it was just the mother, but now its both of them. *sigh* I like the kid, shes a good friend, but she is going to cripple her horse.

And its hard to come out and say to someone "Im done." Especialy when you worry about what will get worse when your gone.

Cooper's Fan Girl said...

Awesome post, you rock! There are too many girls at riding camp (I used to volunteer) who'd beg and whine to their parents about getting a horse while I stood in the back shaking my head 'no'. Thankfully, just about everyone listened to me, not their naive kids.

verylargecolt said...

>>Would you buy little Morgan a car and hand her the keys, just because she's driven her friend Buffy's car around the block a few times?<<

I ALWAYS use this analogy! Except I add that it's a car where the brakes and steering fail 50% of the time!

Great post.

bigpainthorse said...

Mugwump, what a terrific post! Darn it, now I have to add your blog to my regular route on the Internet, you're just to sharp not to keep on reading.

Magna Cum Mule Trainer said...

I fully support a license and IQ test for owning horses.
I've seen so many dumbass owners at boarding stables I could write a novel.
I hope I made a small impression in future generations... I told my students they need at least 2 years of lessons and some leasing experience before they buy a horse.

bigpainthorse said...

Amen, Magna Cum ... but there are "lessons" and then there are "lessons." I got to know one person where I used to board who had been taking "riding lessons" for three years from an instructor who never instructed her in even the most basic horsemanship things, like tacking up, picking feet out, wrapping legs ... she showed up at said instructors arena, got on an already-tacked-up horse, when round-and-round for an hour, then it was "so long, see you next week."

(Sadly, I got to know her after she had purchased her first horse--a hot, green 5-year-old TB--and was watching me round-pen my horse with a look of sheer terror and wonder on her face: "How did you learn to do that?")

fssunnysd said...

Couldn't have said it better. I was discussing the parent-as-checkbook with the farrier last night.

Sure, buy the kid a $10,000 horse that she can't handle, and then expect her to win trophies. When she doesn't, blame the trainer, blame the horse, blame the judge, blame everyone but yourself because you were too stupid to realize that a horse is not just an animated stuffed animal with horseshoes on. Your baby girl would be better off with lessons from a good trainer and that big-hearted mutt, ugly-as-sin Heinz-57 lesson horse that has worlds of things to teach a beginner, but oh, no: have to buy something pretty, trophy-winning, and way above her riding level. And of course, having fun on something that expensive is out, because it might get scuffed, banged, or bruised and not be able to show, so no playdays, very little turn-out, none of your "big four." Sheesh!

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