Thursday, September 16, 2010

Newspaper Article...

Here's this weeks news article. And yes, I was with the folks working cattle and I'm as guilty as the rest of them.

I also posted a photo of Stormy on the Cupcake post.

When Do We Step In?
By Janet Huntington

A young couple entered the arena. They were leading a pretty chestnut and white paint mare. She was bright-eyed and high headed, obviously a little nervous, but leading along with a good attitude.

The young man rode her first.

It became apparent within two strides the mare was packing an extremely green rider.
All the signs were there. He sat hunched forward in the saddle, trying to find stability by jamming his feet into the too short stirrups. His knees gripped the horse’s sides and his toes pointed straight to the ground.

The mare loped off at a good clip, wildly tossing her head as she tried to escape the pressure of a mechanical hackamore, adjusted so low on her nose it was cutting off her air.

As they careened across the arena they zipped past a group of competent, solid riders working cattle with their horses.

“Somebody’s going to get killed,” one rider muttered.

“Now, be nice, everybody’s got to learn in their own way,” another rider answered.

The mare grew more and more desperate as she was kicked in the sides and pulled on at the same time. When her rider lost his balance he would pull himself back up in the saddle by hauling on the reins of the suffocating hackamore.

Her head tossing was joined by a wild snapping of her tail, but she stayed patient as she suffered through the painful treatment by her owner.

None of the experienced group of riders said a thing. They simply kept working their cows and kept half an eye on the horse and her very green rider.

After careening around the arena for a few laps the young man stopped to visit the other riders.
He introduced himself and said, “I’m riding her down for my girlfriend, this horse is really hot.”
There were polite greetings from the other riders and then an uncomfortable silence.

Nobody said a word, even though the thought of the young man being the more experienced of the two was pretty terrifying.

This is a situation I’ve seen over and over in the horse world.

Even though nobody on the planet would dream of driving a car without instruction, for some reason everybody thinks they can ride a horse.

If an experienced driver saw someone driving a car who had obviously never had any training or driven the car before, he would do everything in his power to stop the driver, up to and including calling the police.

So why do we all seem to feel we can ride a horse through osmosis?

There seems to be a code of silence among horsemen when it comes to helping out a fellow rider and it is amplified by stubborn refusal from new riders to take offered advice.

If one of those horsemen had stepped up and said, “Let me show you something on your horse here,” and adjusted the hackamore so the poor mare could breathe the entire situation would have changed for the better.

The problem is we horse people hate to be told how to ride. We immediately feel the fool if someone more experienced points out some lug-head thing we’re doing.

If we are taking instruction we’ll sometimes listen to our instructor. But nobody else can say a thing. Even if we’re too green to know whether our instructor is any good.

This kind of attitude seems to be encouraged by riders with experience. We sit frozen, not saying a word, sometimes even in a dangerous situation, because we don’t want to embarrass anyone.

We expect green riders to learn from experience and let’s face it, if you have enough time and enough horses to burn through you will eventually get good enough to get your horse rode. Unless of course you get scared, injured or killed.

I can’t help but wonder how much safer the equestrian world would be if the experienced rider, trainer or veterinarian just spoke up. Of course this won’t work unless the rider we’re trying to help will listen and not become offended.

I also can’t help but wonder about how many horses are labeled “dangerous,” or “bad-minded,” simply because they have been driven to the point of insanity by inexperienced hands.

I think back to Mort, the horse of my childhood and I can’t remember if he was fat or thin. I remember his bony back getting rounder, but I couldn’t tell you if his weight was right or not. I didn’t know what a healthy weight on a horse looked like.

I also rode him with a hackamore that bloodied his chin and a tie-down which kept his head tossing to a minimum by pure force.

Lucky for both Mort and I we had the intervention and instruction we needed. First from Mark Reynor who helped me find my seat and taught me how to use my hands. Then Mike Craig, a young Black Forest trainer who taught me the Monte Foreman training system, where I was able to throw away my tie-down and learn to ride with my seat and legs and properly use a bit. I joined the Kit Carson Riding Club and learned to show in an environment of support. The club was also filled with adult riders who would jump in and help a willing but ignorant teenager.

My horse and I survived our first few years together and I’ll always be grateful to the people who helped me along the way. I am very aware it could have ended differently for both Mort and me.

Since there are no legal requirements for buying a horse I think we have to take a chance and help a new rider when we get the chance.

The couple with the brightly colored paint were on the right track. Their horse was well fed and had good feet. She was wearing a properly fitted saddle. She seemed to be fairly patient and willing to try and so did the young couple.

A tactful intervention could have helped everybody caught up in the small drama.

So what’s the solution?

A good start would be to suck it up and offer a little help when we see it’s needed. Of course it also means accepting said advice with a smile and a thank-you.

Could a free class for beginning horse owners be offered by the highly respected local riding club?

How about a list of things to know before you buy a horse and how to find the information and instruction you need?

This list could be sent to feed stores and tack shops and be not only a help to new horse owners but free advertisement for area veterinarians, trainers and shoers.

I feel strongly enough about this to want to pursue the thought.

It might even get me to show up to a FRRC meeting or two.

I’m inviting anybody who reads my column, from the old time rider to the brand new horse owner to send me your thoughts and questions on this subject. What help do you need? What questions need to be asked? How can assistance be offered without offending? How can my column be of help?


Heidi the Hick said...

I suddenly feel like putting together a FREE one day class for beginner horse owners!

Quick overview of basic tack, how to fit it, what a healthy horse should look like, and who to call. REcommend a farrier, vet. Instructor. (Me!)

It's something I could do, right? If I put in a day for free, it could not only lead to more business down the line but also happier horses and safer riders, and that would be awesome!

Scamp said...

I must check for new posts exactly when you post them...

I can definitely relate to this: a few years ago I was on vacation on a small island in the Caribbean, and went with some friends to do a trail/beach ride. I'd never ridden a horse in the ocean so this seemed like it would be a blast.

The horses, all Paso Finos, were healthy and well-loved, so I had no qualms about riding them, even though they were so tiny and slab-sided (I like me a nice fat QH). The owner had hackamores for all of them, on the theory that it's kinder for rental horses. However, they were full horse sized hackamores, and on those little heads they hung down onto and past the tip of cartilege on all their noses.

I tried to tactfully suggest that they weren't fit right: "Do you have a hole-punch? You could add a couple of holes and adjust those up a bit higher on their noses."

She replied, fairly haughtily, that the friend who'd provided them for her had adjusted them, and they were fine.

Okay then. Well, I tried.

I did get to ride in the ocean, and it was a blast!

Stormy was gorgeous. I know a horse in these parts who is his spitting image, registered name "On the Dark Side Son". I wonder if he's related...

paint_horse_milo said...

Great post Mugs, and something I think about.

When I first started riding it was with no financial backing from parents and everything I learned was because of what I watched or some kind experienced person tells me. I always feel it is my part to help those green newbies when I can, seeing as that is how I moved up the totem pole. Like paying it forward.

I also feel if we helped the new ones, they have a better chance of having a good experience and continueing, which is good for our horse economy. Not to mention, good for the horse who than doesnt have to suffer through an ignorant owner.

mugwump said...

Yes Heidi, yes,yes, yes!!!!

horsegenes said...

I got my first horse when I was 7 years old. My father had just passed away and my mom thought that a horse would keep me out of trouble and it did. I had no one to help me. I had 20 acres and the roads to ride on so that is what I did. But that poor horse. He was thin, I ran him down paved roads, yanked on his face, gave him saddle sores and that was in the first 8 weeks I owned him. Then I had to have his feet down. My mom knew that you had to take care of their feet or I would have just ridden the poor things legs off. The farrier was my horses savior. He sat me down and talked to me. He told me how to feed the horse, he told me what not to do and what the old boy could stand. Everytime he came he spent time just educating me. I looked forward to his visits. Then he suggested to my mom that I get signed up for 4-H. Fortunately in my area we had a great horse group and things changed for the better for me and the horse. Thankgoodness.

Now that I am older I try to help people when I can. Like someone else said "pay if forward". A lot time when you want to help it is more about the approach than anything. I think that local 4-H, pony club, etc are great place for kids to start. It is the newbie adults that it is hard to educate. Encouraging them to get involved with local clubs and organizations is one way to get them to see the error of their ways. Chatting with them, asking them open ended questions to get them talking about the horse always helps. Ridicule or shunning never helps the horse. Never.
I have been in the situation where I put my head down and refused to look at what was going. I knew that angry was welling up inside me and I would not have been able to be helpful without losing my cool completely. When I see other people looking away I often wonder if that is the reason or if it just complete indifference.

Another thing that I do, this is going to sound insane.. But I don't take my horse anywhere unless he is clean and fit. (this is quite an accomplishment - he is mostly white) Newbies gravitate to shiney objects - if you know what I mean. A lot of time they will approach me and say "what a beautiful horse" and that opens the door for a conversation

TalkTeke said...

This touches on one of my pet peeves. Raffles for horses!!! The AHA is raffling off an endurance-prospect Arab at the WEG this year. Holy... heck. Are they insane?? They say he's a calm gelding, but still. The majority of people buying the ticket will not be knowledgable horse people.

I have seen what happens to these horses, one of my friend's neighbours won a horse. It was NOT a pretty sight. Kudos to my friends; they tried to make suggestions to improve the poor filly's life. Big fat raspberry to the neighbours for not taking the advice of people who've owned horses 20+ years! By 18 months she was skin and bones, never seen a farrier (or vet to their knowledge), unhandled and living with an intact 10 month colt for "company".

Makes me want to take out a loan just so I can go down to WEG to put in a chance for the gelding. I could at least use him for what he is bred for and he would have a safe life with me and the other equines here! I REALLY hope the raffle gelding goes to a good home.

What are they thinking? At least if you sell, you can say no to an inappropriate home, not so with a raffle! *grumble, grumble*

So, yeah, I think this (a clinic or helping newbies) is a great idea. But then, I am nosy and pretty loudmouthed. I step in it quite often, and I do often give "pointers". I usually present it as advice from a great trainer, saying I got it myself as help with a problem I was having. Puts me on a level with them and makes me seem less like I'm saying I'm better/ smarter than them.

DeeDee said...

Mugs, I am a city kid from the east coast, daughter of educators. I hate that knowlegable horefolks don't speak up when a travesty like that is happening.

I agree, the approach makes a difference. I often say 'Oh, I see you do what I was originally atught to do. Then a teacher of mine showed me a better way to do that. Horses all got quieter when I made the change. Could I show it to you?'

If the answer is no. Then at least I tried.

I rememebr a story from Mark Rashid about the old cowboy seeing two riders with new saddles and he knew the saddles were hurting the horses. He never said a word. For me, If someone saw my saddle was hurting my horse, I would appreciate a quiet comment about it. Few of us know so much that a kindly done correction wouldn't be much appreciated.

And maybe that is asking too much.

I am sorry for the horse and the girlfriend that no one helped this poor gunsel out.

jlynn12 said...

i totally agree, and i know alot of people would be helped by a clinic or other type of information. my parents never had the money or inclination to get me into horseback riding, and living in the chicago area made it hard to do much with babysitting money. but i read so much, and really wanted to learn, that i would have soaked up absolutely any information like that like a sponge.
now, im going to college and majoring in equine science, and it's a bit stickier. some of the people here have never ridden, and it's hard to take advice from your peers when it feels like they'll always be better than you are. also, i know a few people who (although they win at shows and can sit on a horse and not die) think they're amazing and tell everyone else what they're doing wrong. their riding is heavy, annoys the horse, and is not very pleasant to watch, especially if they think no one's watching.
so yes, i think people should offer advice- but be nice, and make sure your hands are clean, so to say.

Vaquerogirl said...

I have spoken up, and sometimes it is taken well and sometimes it is not taken at all. I have given lots of free instruction and free tutoring and taken scads of folks horse shopping so they could get the perfect horse- only to have them buy some other dink I hadn't seen. I have a hard time sittin by while a horse is abused or a kid is about to be dumped... and my daughter just keeps telling me to mind my own bees wax! Telling someone how to ride is like telling them how to raise their kids or dogs- it don't work so good mostly! So it is a lesson in humility to ease into the subject with out preaching, help without sounding pompous and be a mentor when and if they choose to accept you as one.
I also volenteer with 4-H and there is where the real job of teaching begins- get them while they really don't know stuff and are willing to do just about anything to learn. Of course you still hae to deal with parents...

Anonymous said...

I have always taken the approach that people who want help will ask for it and that most of the time people who don't ask don't want help, and no matter how much they need it they aren't going to want it and that means they won't accept anything freely given.

The two things I do try to do is talk to people about their horses because pretty much every rider likes talking about their horse and sometimes you can plant the seed of an idea without seeming to and maybe nothing will come of it, but maybe they'll remember what you said some time when they need it and make a change for their horse.

The other thing I try to do is to be as exemplary as possible- if my horse is being awesome then even if people don't want to ask me for a hand with stuff, they will see what I've got with my horse and what I'm doing to keep it and maybe get some ideas that would help with that. The frustrating thing is when people say how lucky you are to have such a well behaved horse. People who've known us a while and seen the injuries he's inflicted on me down the years don't say that, but people who meet us now may think that his charming disposition is the result of his generous nature when in fact he's aggressive, pushy and potentially dangerous and has only come around to my way of thinking over years of hard work and intensive development of my horsemanship.

Francis said...

I find myself in situations just about every day where a rider/owner is making HUGE mistakes. I have been lucky enough to be around horses all of my life and have made *most* of these mistakes myself. Lucky for me, I was involved in 4-H as a very young horse owner and my parents hauled me around to receive instruction (not necessarily showing instruction!) so that I could improve. I was lucky. It made me a better horseman and a better person.

As an adult, I will only step in when a situation has become dangerous and then with great reluctance. I learned that rarely are horse owners/riders willing to listen and often they resent any effort to help or educate. I have developed a technique that works however ... I go to large organized rides, it is easy to locate yourself near a problem rider and engage in coversation around them about proper techniques.. generally my friends and I will begin a discussion on a "problem" that we are having (which coincidentally is exactly the same issue facing the problem rider).. as we discuss ways to improve or fix the problem, you often notice the rider is sticking close by, absorbing information.. sometimes they might even join in and ASK for help!! If they ask for help, its Katy bar the door because then I let them have a huge spurt of knowledge :).. if they don't ask, you will sometimes be able to observe their behaviour change just by "overhearing" your conversations...

Its not the best way to deal with it.. but sometimes it works!!

Whywudyabreedit said...

Glenatron, it is always telling when people give the horse all of the credit. Unfortunately that also translates to transferring blame on them.

I like Kel try to turn my horses out nicely, to set a quiet example, and to be very kind too all. My draft crosses both get a lot of attention and so that gives me a lead in to talk to folks.

It is amazing the doors that will open with one or two kindly spoken well placed compliments (usually). Beautiful horse, nice horse, that seems like a really sweet horse...

Although I will admit that the last time I tried that with some rowdy newbees that have one Appy Gelding that the whole family takes turns on it didn't go so well. I commented on what a nice horse he is (which he is he tolerates the random beginner cowboying with amazing patience) the owner replied, "Well he needs his teeth done," these words were spoken with a tone that made it clear that this was an annoyance not to be dealt with due to expense and maybe some realization that it the teeth were causing some bitting issues.

I wanted to throttle the B*%#h! That horse packs her daughter who cannot ride around barrels and she won't spring for the teeth? If you aren't going to care for it don't own it!

Ok stepping down...

But mostly I have been able to get in a few words due to taking the time to make positive contact initially.

Denisarita said...

This hits home for me. Just this week at sorting practise there was a gal using a running martingale with a bosal... I didn't say anything, but wanted to. What do you say?.... You don't want to insult them or come off as a know it all either.

horsegenes said...

A martingale with a bosal? What DO you say? I have seen some crazy things but that it right up there. I bet they were the kind of newbie rider that would have not listened to a word you said. It seems like the worse the infraction the more know it all and indignate the rider. You got to wonder what the horse was thinking.

Becky said...

See, I had the opposite problem. As a beginner I found it really hard trying to sift through conflicting advice. When I got my first horse, all I owned was a hoofpick and a fly spray bottle. I borrowed everything else until I could afford it. I tried to be a sponge and soak up information, but some of the stuff was crazy.

One lady threatened to call the humane society on me because I was "abusing" my mare--- On Saturdays and Sundays I spent all day with her, and except for an hour break every 2-3 hours, I wandered around the neighborhood bareback on her at a walk. Apparently that was "too much" exercise and not enough "downtime".

Another lady told me I had to put paint thinner on my horse's feet after a shoeing to keep the possibility of infection down from misplaced nails (WTH?). You should have SEEN the bucking bronco fest that happened when I burned my poor mare's feet :(

Worm your horse once a week. Worm your horse once a month. Worming a horse causes stomach cancer and colic. Give your horse used cigarettes to chew on to worm them.

Lope your horse 40 minutes every day to build their endurance and muscle tone. Don't lope your horse more than 5 rounds around the arena because the circular pattern causes stress on their shoulders and will throw out their back.

Use the hotwalker to build muscle tone. Don't use the hotwalker because it screws up their neck.

Old bacon grease on a cut will cause the hair to grow back the same color (this one is TRUE!).

Listerine will help the hair from flaking off their legs from pee scald.

The saddle should be more forward to take the weight off their back. The saddle should be further back to free up their shoulders.

It goes on, and on, and on.

I think one of the things that saved me is that we couldn't afford a saddle for the first six months, so that kept me at relatively safe speeds until I started learning how to separate good advice from bad advice. My basic rule I instituted was that unless something made PERFECT sense to me when someone suggested it, I wouldn't implement the advice until I heard it repeated from 3 different sources.

Aherron said...

I normally start with a smile that includes my eyes. Ask how they are doing and a little about their horse(s). Then when the time is right I start with somthing close to 'Since something is only worth what you pay for it.....Can I offer you some advice?' I have never had this not work. The key in my opinion is the true interest in the person and their horse/trouble. I think people can feel the difference between being told and actual interest. Does that help?

Anonymous said...

I think it's often difficult for someone who's new to horses to know who to trust. A lot of times newbies are given conflicting advice, some of it just different ways of thinking, some of it flat out bad, and some that doesn't work for their horse. How is someone new supposed to figure out who's "right"?

I also think "experts" need to really look at the situation and determine if it's actually harmful/dangerous or if it's just something that's different from what they do. Different solutions work better for different people/horses. If someone's got something that works for them and their horse, and it's not dangerous, then why nit-pick because it's not the "right" way?

I agree that a community that's more open about giving and taking advice would be great, but it's not going to happen overnight. I might suggest "asking" the horse-owner about why they're doing something, and trying to start a conversation from there. In the story you told, perhaps someone could have asked the new guy "Is there a reason you have your hackmore adjusted so low?" Maybe someone told him too, maybe he just didn't know better, maybe he has a really good reason (unlikely in this case, but you never know). By asking, instead of telling, you create a conversation that's based around respect. If new guy wants to learn he can ask how you'd do it without feeling stupid. It's easier for either one of you to disengage if the other seems unwilling to listen.

Just my two cents.

Anonymous said...

I have spoken up, mostly when I think the horse or rider is in danger. I usually try to start with something like, "you know, when I had that problem I..."

But one day this spring we were out at a local trailhead, riding in the arena with the grandkids, and 2 very loud and drunk men, and 3 young women they were chasing came galloping into the arena from the trails. First of all, I thought that was rude and dangerous because of the kids. They could have asked if the kids and their horses were ok with strange horses. I had the 2 grandchildren stand off to one side of the arena while the wannabe cowboys whooped it up showing off for the girls. It soon became apparent that one of them considered himself an expert in everything, and his friend had no experience with horses, and the horse he was on was very green. The poor horse was also worn out. As soon as he was allowed to stand still for a minute he tried to lay down in the sandy arena. Mr Expert yelled at Mr. Green to "beat the shit" out of the horse. I immediately spoke up and told him no one was going to beat that horse. Mr. Expert looked me over, and the horses and kids, (I take good care of my horses and tack, they look like show horses when I take them trail riding, his horses were ungroomed, cheap tack, and had various pieces of strange wire and cable contraptions he was using as tie-downs and nose bands) "what difference does it make? He was cheap," was his response. That really set me off. I told Mr. Green to just walk the horse for a while, till he could catch his breath. Mr. Expert said something about "women horse owners." The DH and I later had several fights about whether or not I should have said something, but no way was I going to stand there quietly and let those idiots beat a horse in front of the grandkids.

Deb in Mich

Anonymous said...

It's pretty hard to solve a equestrian problem at a distance, but on my day job as a programmer I regularly use some very useful Question and Answer sites. The makers of these sites are diversifying into different topic areas and among the proposals users have suggested is an equestrian one. It could use some supporters though, so if anyone is interested in getting involved there, it could provide a really unique and valuable resource both for new owners and more experienced people.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, in my experience, it is often the other, just barely experienced that is the first to speak up to a newbie. Wanting to "bestow" all their newly learned horse facts onto those that now know less. You know the scene - Muffin won't load in trailer, recent-but-not-so-newbies, all step up to "help" said horse load into trailer. Chaos insues... old timer, wise horse people sit back and think how often they've seen this. Those are the ones that know to help when asked, butt out when not. For me, I learned by emulating. watching all the horse and rider teams I admired. So I try to always be a good example. Horses look good, well behaved, quiet riding ... those can be teaching moments also.

Funder said...

The problem is that at least half the advice a new rider - at least when I was a brand new rider - is given is TERRIBLE. I was told, in all seriousness, that to ride a gaited horse you have to have a long-shanked curb bit, you have to haul the horse's head in at all times, and you should jam your heels down and sit baaaack and enjoy the ride. I was told that by every single person I met in real life. The Internet, my incredibly patient gelding, and my own good sense (what little I have) told me that was wrong.

The problem is that so many roads lead to Rome. You gotta speak up to the new riders, but you also have to just live your own truth and hope the newbies watch you.

Bif said...

Yes, the newbee teaching newbee is always fun! Poor horses.

I don't understand people, straight up. We know we need instruction to learn to drive a car. I don't see why people get horses without ever having ANY instruction, but they do. I always wanted to jump, but didn't get to learn until I was a SOPHOMORE in college, because I didn't have a good instructor (or the funds)and didn't want to learn bad habits.

My last boarding barn had mostly first time horse owners. Everyone knew I was happy to offer advice on things I was experienced in (and let them know while I was willing to help, if their preferred sport or horse type wasn't one I was super knowledgeable about, that I didn't know much), was willing to teach as long as they didn't pay me =). I would always explain why I did what I did, and why the horse was (probably) thinking and acting the way he did. I didn't offer advice unless asked, (or unless a serious maiming was truly imminent, but that was seldom) and I was often asked for injury/health evaluations, occasionally training and riding.

You can offer help, but can not offer unsolicited advice. That fine line between overstepping, or saying nothing but cringing inside.

Anonymous said...

Heidi said:
"I suddenly feel like putting together a FREE one day class for beginner horse owners"

I have a trainer friend who did something like this. It was a "fun clinic," I think she charged $25 dollars, but she provided lunch and prizes. Even though I'm far from a beginner, I went with a green horse. I started the day doing the games and exercises from the ground. After lunch I got on her and rode. I didn't win any of the prizes, but it was a good experience, and I didn't get thrown or run away with. And it might have taught some of the newer riders that green horses are a whole 'nother problem.

Heila said...

We know we need instruction to learn to drive a car. I don't see why people get horses without ever having ANY instruction, but they do.

People think they can raise kids without any help too. Must be an ego thing.

Bif said...

Too true, Heila... some without even the benefit of ever having babysat kids for more than a few hours, much less gone to classes, or even read a few books for perspective and insight.

CHHorsemanship said...

This really hit home for me. I was recently hearing about a riding train wreck from a friends siter.

However, i'm just the opposite. Many times I am quite rude to people. It was very difficult for me to calm down and try to educate the girl.

Everything was wrong from improper trims, thin, a harsh bit, bad saddle fit etc. It was the whole package.

She was stubborn and unwilling to let me help her. She kept making excuses; she thin because she's really old (13 is NOT old), she needs a harsh bit because she's a runaway ( from what I gathered she's running to try and excape the bit) etc.

I really hope she goes out to ride and just tries something I said when she is getting frustrated with her methods.

Leah Fry said...

I am so grateful to have hooked up with the right people. At first, I was so embarrassed at how badly I rode, but they have never been anything but encouraging and helpful. It didn't take long at all until I didn't care how bad I look; all I want is for them to help me. Now they just yell stuff for me.

All you can do is offer. If they truly want to learn, they will welcome every opportunity.

Unknown said...

We do this a good deal with dogs - we offer help all the time, generally with a careful intro. Like "Can I give you a hand there?"

I am always seeking advice of veterans and I let them know I want to hear it. Sometimes that opens the flood gates.

I think a green horn class is great. Sort of "so, you have a horse. Now what?"

Fyyahchild said...

I actually have a story on my blog about the first woman who gave me advice. Sometimes it is very appreciated even years after the fact and even if it was hard to hear at the time.

That being said I have a dilema I've been trying to figure out how to deal with. At my new barn there is a woman who needs some coaching badly. Her posture is terrible and it's causing her to be really heavy handed. She's jumping 3-4 feet and freaking me out because she and her horse look SO uncomfortable. The problem is that I think she's thinks she's better than she is and I don't want to irritate her. I'm not even sure if she would listen to me since she says she's ridden with some really good trainers and apparently that hasn't helped. She did offer to let me ride her horse the other day so I could tell her what I think. I'm thinking I might try it to see if I can get him going around quietly to see if that impresses her at all? Then maybe should would be open to some advice. Normally I wouldn't even try to help a more advanced student but I've given lessons to some beginners and I can at least teach a person to ride softly, quietly and above all safely when they're willing to learn. I think maybe this woman might think she's advanced and maybe she thinks equitation doesn't matter for jumpers, but I disagree. She really needs to start over and work on some basics.

On a more personal note, I got a second in equitation riding Tax at a H/J show this weekend! I have trouble with my own posture. I'm as swaybacked as an old mule so it's nice when I pull off looking decent.

My other TB mare is still being leased for lessons but having a ton of medical issues so she's not being ridden right now. We recently had to have an infected tooth pulled. Then she had a minor colic incident last week and the vet discovered an irregular heartbeat. Has anyone else had this happen? Sorry for the long post but I alway appreciate hearing if anyone else has had a similar issue.

Fyyahchild said...

Sorry, I specifically meant has anyone else had a horse with an irregular heartbeat? The vet wants to check her again this week to see if it's changed and if not there's some procedure he wants to do. He says its not expensive or that complicated but according to the trainer who's leasing her it sounds expensive and complicated. Sigh...

Anonymous said...

From where I sit.

I am 43 and a very green rider. As I kid I was a pretty decent rider. I did everything there was to do on and with a horse. I did take lessons first and worked with a trainer myself and my horse.

Getting back into it I find much has changed and most of all me. I welcome advice of any sort and will even let people know particularly in a group situation that I am a green rider on a young horse.

My young horse knows much more than his old rider.

Arlene said...

This is a tough one.

I hate to see horses handled improperly and the thought of standing by while someone is causing harm unknowingly.

My all around preference would be for folks to take lessons. I'm green myself and I find the most valuable info just from watching and listening and then trying it.

But new folks do get misinformation along with the accurate stuff. Picture this: The guy that was riding to "wear down" the horse five years from now. If he hasn't gotten any training, he'll be spouting off all sorts of stuff that would not be helpful.

A class would be great. Only problem is people like the guy in the story, think they don't need lessons.

So I'm not sure what you do. By all means, work up a class but another question is how to get people who need the help to actually take the help?

HorseOfCourse said...

I find that the older I get, the more reluctant I am to intervene.

On the other hand, much of the horse keeping here is in a setting where it is easy to get advice. Beginners normally start off at a riding school.
Keeping horses is expensive in Norway due to the climate so it also makes people think twice before buying a horse.
I don't find that the main problem here comes from beginners as they often are asking both for advice and participate in regular training.

My worries are more in the line of unsuitable matches between horse and rider (which almost always leads to trouble), and people treating the horse like a barbie doll instead of a horse. More subtle forms of "abuse" perhaps, but still situations where the horse is uncomfortable or where it leads to problems.

HorseOfCourse said...

I find that the older I get, the more reluctant I am to intervene.

On the other hand, much of the horse keeping here is in a setting where it is easy to get advice. Beginners normally start off at a riding school.
Keeping horses is expensive in Norway due to the climate so it also makes people think twice before buying a horse.
I don't find that the main problem here comes from beginners as they often are asking both for advice and participate in regular training.

My worries are more in the line of unsuitable matches between horse and rider (which almost always leads to trouble), and people treating the horse like a barbie doll instead of a horse. More subtle forms of "abuse" perhaps, but still situations where the horse is uncomfortable or where it leads to problems.

baystatebrumby said...

I think one of the best things we can do for ourselves is to ask for help when we need it. In the story the guy riding is so worried on the inside (I believe anyway) to look "weak" by saying , I don't really know how to ride." But what he doesn't know is that he looks a lot weaker by being an insecure rider who actually is not having any fun and who is trashing his poor mare in the process. That rider needs to see himself for who he really is! When I first took horseback riding lesson at a very nice barn (I was an adult), they never once mentioned the psychology of the horse! A horse is a prey animal after all and will have a reason for every action he takes! This is important! So if he's uncomfortable and behaves badly, acn you blame him? I wouldn't.

Angelina said...

People are embarrassed to ask for help. I sold a horse to a girl who wasn't very experienced, and i deeply regretted doing so. She said she'd get help with the horse, when she really didn't. The horse threw her a couple of times and she got scared. Luckily i put it in the contract that they were to contact me if they ever wanted to sell her so i could buy her back if i wanted. They called me after they had her for a few weeks, and i went to get her back. When i got there, she was lying down outside in a tiny gravel paddock all alone, she had gotten thinner, had sores from not having enough bedding in the stable and she was desperate to get away. They obviously hadn't understood any of a horse's basic needs.

I'd love it if every new horse owner received a book telling them the basics, including:
- horses need a lot of space, you need to be able to provide them with that.
- horses NEED other HORSE friends
- Just like you, they get hungry more than once a day
- Just like you, they want a soft, clean place to lie down at night
- And just like you, they need fresh, clean water to drink, and food which isn't mouldy

Cuz a lot of people don't even get these basic things when they buy a horse. It's like they think an animal needs less care than they themselves do. So many things are so simple, if they would only apply the same situations to themselves! "Do i want to run on a hard surface with metal shoes? Or run five miles when i'm out of shape? Or stand outside in the sun with no possibilities to walk into the shade? No? Ok, then my horse doesn't want to either."

Lisa Ross said...

I saw the AHA horse raffle mentioned above. When I was 11 I entered their essay contest - the prize was an Arabian horse. A few months went by, and one day my Dad came home waving a letter, all excited. I had not won an Arabian horse. I had won second place, a $250 savings bond.
I kept that money untouched for decades, like my own
horsey IRA. I was going to use it toward my first horse.

Actually my first horse was free.
Sometimes I wonder what might have been if I'd had a horse as a kid. Most people's stories resonate with how it helped them grow up right. Sometimes, though, I feel relieved for the horse that didn't have to grow up with me. (My local 4H didn't have a horse program and encouraged me to learn more useless skills, like baking, lol)
Between those days and now, I spent a lot of time learning and when my horse came into my life, I was ready.

Once Upon an Equine said...

I think the local equine education days are a great way to offer help to new riders and horse owners; at least the people who are sincerely interested in good horsemanship are likely to attend such events. They need to be advertised really well though. Larger events like Expos may be helpful too. But it is a dilemma, because even those of us who are seeking help are bombarded by conflicting information. Lots of people hang their shingle out as a horse trainer and for almost every one, you can find someone who thinks they walk on water and then find someone else who says 'stay away - that trainer left hundreds of spur marks on my horse.' It is frustrating to sift through all the conflicting information and opinions. But the more seminars we can attend, we begin to recognize what is good and what works and what is sane. I really appreciate the local equine education events.

Amy said...

Fyaah- I am a people nurse.... an irregular heartbeat can be caused by a few things, in people at least. Some people (myself included) ahve a naturally irregular rhythm called a "sinus arrhythmia," a variation of the normal sinus rhythm we all should have- basically, the heart speeds up and slows down in a rhythm, often with breathing.

The irregularity could also be from premature beats of some kind, or from something a little more serious called atrial fibrillation, which causes the heart to beat kind of willy-nilly with no pattern at all. If you are able to, go feel the horses pulse or listen with a stethoscope, and try to determine the rate (count for 15 seconds and multiply by 4) and the pattern of the heart beat. If there seems to be a pattern to it, and the rate isn't too high, it's likely to be benign, but if its all over the place, you're gonna have to fix it. Vet will probably want an EKG so you can see what's going on electrically in the heart.

If the horse just had a tooth pulled, and then colicked, and now is having heart issues... from a human healthcare standpoint, please have a complete blood count and a chemistry panel drawn. Your horse could have an infection from the tooth... a horse with a low grade infection maybe wouldn't eat/drink right? Also fluid imbalances (either from infection or poor appetite secondary to infection) can cause electrolyte imabalances, which can cause heart irregularities.

Let me know what you find out, either via private message, or I will check this thread as well.

Amy said...

As far as new people needing help... I am an adult newbie and it is VERY difficult to sift through the assloads of advice you will get. You really need to find one or two trustworthy sources and follow their advice, I am lucky to have found a wonderful trainer who is doing her best to kick my floppy, heavy-handed ass into proper riding form! She is also my go-to person if anyone has a booboo, is off their feed, etc, etc, etc.

CR said...

Like many others I have given up trying to give advice to people. I notice it is harder for men to take any kindly worded warnings.

I have seen more than one person recently that adopted from a rescue (a well known one at that) that has little experience. Generally the excuse is "I rode as a kid and I'm good with horses." I think the people that are good with horses never say that lol!

I think people don't fully get how much they don't know until they have survived (if they do survive) being in horses a while. The more you know the more you know you don't know!

When I got my first horse over 30 years ago I didn't think it was that complicated. Fortunately my first mare was extremely sweet and forgiving, even though she was green! I had no money for lessons and thought since I didn't want to show it didn't matter.

But I'm wondering what it is with these legit rescues adopting out problem horses to newbies.

It's funny to hear what people think makes them "experienced. "I rode every summer at a ranch in Wyoming on vacation" or "my neighbor had a horse when I was a kid and I used to ride with her."

burdfour said...

Having been around the same (small) town for 45 years, I run into a lot of situations similiar to what you described. I've had SOME luck with first complimenting them....gosh, beautiful horse! ot one of my last ones "ya know, I love it that your horse will run in such a mild bit, but I see him getting away from you....can I tighten the curb chain some? It might give you better control." By starting out with a compliment, you are not the enemy, or bossy...and people LIKE to hear compliments.

Fyyahchild said...

Thanks Amy. I got a chance to talk to the vet and it was atrial fib, but it seems like it came on with the colic. He says she definitely didn't have it a couple weeks ago when they pulled her tooth. For now it seems resolved. I might take your advice though have have the blood work done. I worried if she got any infection in the bone in her sinus cavity we'll need to have that removed as well and the x-rays of the sinus are so hard to see clearly.

Fyyahchild said...

The lady I mentioned at our barn asked me to ride her horse last night. It went really well...he's actually a blast to ride. I just spent some time trotting with my upper body really relaxed and asking him to drop into my hands with light contact. He felt great when he responded and she had a ton of questions for me. It gave me a chance to talk to her about what she's working on in lessons and give her some pointers to discuss with her trainer about relaxing through her chest and shoulders. She's been working on it already and looks better. I think giving advice can be done with a little finesse if you don't mind spending the time to connect with that person.

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