Wednesday, January 4, 2012


The exchange in the comments over Alexis' look back at the horses who had influenced her past seems to have struck a nerve, or two, or three, or six.

I have to be honest, I was torn.

Our story sharing is important to me and I love the acceptance we give each other. By being open to different outlooks and not slamming each we have gotten some incredible input and the ability to peek into each others lives.

Here comes the "but..." you knew it was on the way, I'm not called Mugwmp for nothing.

I have to admit, I cringed and said "ouch" when I first started reading Alexis' post. I felt, at first, it was very anti-trainer. As you guys know, I, um, am one of those,uh, er, trainers.

As I kept reading I realized she was simply talking about how she learned and the strengths she developed from having to do things on her own. Alexis made it clear she did the best she could with the tools she had.

Her story was a good reminder to me how important it is to have to figure things out for yourself and "just ride." Trainer dependency can be extremely destructive. It can close our minds to new and different ways to do things and make us distrust ourselves and our horsemanship. It can undercut the very reason so many of us began riding in the first place, to be free on an animal we admire and love.

I spent the majority of my life on horseback just figuring things out. I had no money for lessons, I barely had enough money for hay. I supported Mort completely off my babysitting earnings. I get poor, trust me.

I also had a fierce desire to compete. Can't help it, it's hard wired into me. I started with gymkhanas and then was snagged by the lure of the "morning events" at the day shows. Trying to break into that world on my whack-a-do gelding was almost impossible.

Enter trainers. I never sent a horse out for training. Because I "just rode" the idea was a crazy one as far as I was concerned. To be honest, I still feel that way. I want my life with horses to entail me taking us as far as we can go together.

But I sure couldn't learn how to compete where I wanted to without help. I needed the help of trainers. I write about the trainers in my life pretty extensively on this blog and I wouldn't be where I am, good and bad, without them.

Which brings me back, in my very windy way, to the comments following Alex's post.

One of the many things I learned over at FHOTD was to appreciate a good argument. I hated the meanness, the personal attacks, the insults, it drove me crazy. I had no idea there were so many miserable people in the world.

What I did enjoy was the thread of discussion I could pick out of the childishness.

There was some spirited discussion that went on, the arguments challenged the posters and myself, brought in new thought and got people thinking. Well, got some thinking, there was a lot of wasted space over there too.

I would love to see some of that over here. We could skip the nastiness and get right into the challenges.

How do we do that without stomping on each other?

I don't think Aegle was trying to cause problems, just start some back and forth. The kind of back and forth that could make this blog a lot more fun if we keep it honest and kind.

I sure don't want to run off potential new readers by slamming them into the ground.

I really would appreciate some feedback here. How do we invite discussion without getting hurt feelings?

Could it be as simple as..."That seemed insulting," or ,"are you bashing me or asking a legitimate question?"

How about, "Ouch, that was hurtful, did you mean it that way?"

We could counter each other by asking questions. How about, "Did you ever wish you could spend time with a trainer?"

I would love to ban any sentence that begins with "You should have...."

Instead try sharing experience, "For me, going to a trainer helped me speed things up."

Am I on the right track here?

Let me know. Say what you think. No swearing, preaching or attacking. Can we handle it?


Jessie said...

Good point Mugs. I think so much of communication is lost over the internet because we can't tell tone of voice, body language, etc. This is why I tend to stay out of discussions like this... especially when you have people who are passionate about something. Of course we will easily take offense and readily defend our positions, we're talking about something we LOVE. We should do our best to understand that we're all coming from different backgrounds. Again, what works for someone might not work for someone else. Nothing wrong with advice/experience sharing :-)

scsarah said...

Can y'all tell I'm home sick today? A posting old fool I am! Even posted a question in 'Mind Meld'. Delirious too, so I hope what I type makes some sort of sense.

I'm always up for a good, clean debate. I will listen with a wide open mind to a well thought out rebuttal. My mind will shut down hard and fast when a certain 'tone', attitude, language creeps into a rebuttal. Any rebuttal, no matter how good, will be null and void after that. Maybe my viewpoint was changing a wee bit....until the 'tude crept in.

I start all posts in a word document. Let then sit, do some editing, stew on how I want the thought I'm trying so hard, yet absmally missing, to be coveyed and be felt by readers.

Never write a comment when the first thought in your mind is anger or attack! It is no longer intellectual, but usally an emotional train wreck that can be torn apart by a slick 5th grader....or a delusional, delirious, old lady...just look at the other blog.

Also remember that when you are 'published' as a writer, there will always be critique to what you wrote, how you wrote, etc. Part and parcel of being published.

I commend all those who do write...takes a set of gonads to put yourself, your life, your memories, your stories for people to critique!

I think I will go drown myself in Nyquil, or some other drug.

A said...

Sorry you felt like I was anti-trainer Mugs. I didn't mean it that way at all!
I have no issue discussing with folks, but I don't appreciate it when they take an older wiser head approach. If it's possible to get your point of view across without making an attempt to rub my nose in the dirt, that would be much more well received. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar after all.

Kelly said...

A, I'd be interested to hear how you would have liked to see Aegle's post worded.
I say this because I personally didn't see why the post annoyed you, to my reading it didn't come across as condescending, so I'd like to be able to see it from your point of view a little better.

mugwump said...

A - No offence taken! Once I read through your story I completely understood where you were coming sent me right back to my days with Mort, one of my favorite places in time...

Kelly - I caught it right away - there was an inferance that A wasn't treating her horses right by not seeking out a trainer.
I don't think it was meant though, and a few thought out challenges back from A may have cleared it up- or not...

mugwump said...

Maybe we should come up with some guidelines which I would post, permanently and in a prominent place?
First would be "No insults!"

Anonymous said...

A, just want to let you know I loved your story, after all that is what it was, a story.

It always amazes me that there are people who feel the need to insert their immense knowledge (esp. when it comes to horses) and comment on a perfectly nice story like yours.

Please don't let the comments of others spoil your day or your story.

I am sure there are many out there like me who just like to be entertained and feel no need to judge or offer our ideas.

As I stated in the beginning, great story and please don't let a few comments get you down.

A said...

Mugs hit it right on the head. The last thing I'd have ever done was abused or mistreated any of my ponies. I did have a competent set of parents looking out for me, my dad has forgotten more about horses than I currently know. He never ever my ignorance affect their well being! I have no issue with trainers, I have in fact been to 2 clinic put on by the same trainer with in the last 3 months, simply to try and learn more. I want to be the best rider I can for my guys.

Anonymous---thank you.

And again, thank you to Mugs for everything. I have learned more than words can explain from the training posts she puts up, and can't even begin to share how much I enjoy her stories!!

mrscravitz said...

WOW! I agree with Jessie and Scsarh because I too will look at both sides with an open mind, (because I love to learn) gets one sided, or to the point of a "know it all" attitude. Because with All people, views and ideas are different. That is how a solution is born. ONE WAY is not always the right way. I do not like to offend people, but sometimes with the written word, things do not always come across as if it was 'spoken'. I feel bad for the huge controversy here. I did not see anything wrong with the original post. Like "A" said, it was a long time ago. That was then. This is now. Lessons learned along the road of life.

Anonymous said...

I think A overreacted a bit, when I read Aegles comment, I didn't get the vibe that she was attacking A at all.. I felt that she was just expressing an opinion.

It is hard to "read" what people really mean when you don't have them in front of you to guage their reaction.


Slippin said...

I Didn't see anything wrong with her story at all, but I was taken aback when I saw a comment that had some bad words in it. I am not "against" bad words so don't bash me for that, I just think that its not really necesary. Thats part of the reason I quit reading Fugly. Everyone has their point of view, but you don't have to use cuss words to get it across. Thats just my opinion. Take it for what you want, but it won't stop me from reading Mugwump. Unless it becomes a way of language..which I don't see Mugs doing that...:)

Kel said...

Mugs' query: "How do we invite discussion without getting hurt feelings?"

I think you're right on going in the positive spin angle on stating opinions -- "this seemed to work for me" definitely is more friendly and open for discussion than "you're an eejit if you don't do it this way." I also agree with scsarah in that it might be best to wait a few minutes, take a couple of deep breaths, and really ponder before posting from the hip (however difficult that may be).

We all have our own experiences -- all I got from Alexis' story that she was a horse crazy kid that had certain experiences tossed her way and she made the best with what she had. I didn't get any impression of abuse or negligence. Sometimes you just have to learn by feeling it -- no words can enlighten you until you experience it. Trainers are human too and can make mistakes. What might click for one horse-human pair might not click for another. Sometimes you need a trainer to get you pointed in the right direction, but occasionally it helps not to have the pressure of somebody staring at you while you get all the knots untangled.

But everybody interprets things differently (as clearly shown by the comments).

Countering with questions is definitely less confrontational (and welcomes further debate) than countering with statements.

cdncowgirl said...

Can we keep the "You should" sentences that go on to finish with something like "...seen how proud I was to work through it" or "... seen my spectacular unplanned dismount" ;)

Funny I just read & commented on the previous post. I totally didn't get the same vibe of Aegle's comment that A did. TO ME it seemed a horse professional trying to give her (his?) side of the coin while maintaining a professional tone. I also don't think she was in any way hinting that A was abusive or neglectful. Then again, it wasn't MY story so there is that personal connection missing that may have made me feel that way.

I do hope that we can keep up the discussion, even a bit of "arguing", to keep the exchange of ideas flowing here. Just in a respectful way.

cdncowgirl said...

Here's the quote from the comment that I was trying to remember:
"And it doesn't sound like you abused your horses in the process of learning."

Also I'm not pro nor anti trainer. I DO think there are some people that either run to a trainer over every thing and never learn to stand on their own 2 (6) feet or learn to think on their own. There are also those trainers that push riders and horses too hard too fast or just plain too much and ruin a rider or horse.
However there are times when getting professional help would be easier on the horse (not that not doing so would be abusive, I think that part of Aegle's comment was misunderstood) or would just help speed up moving to the next step, on your own or with a trainer, OR would just be safer for all involved.

I think the biggest "trick" to all of this is finding the right trainer.

Oh, and believe me, I understand being a poor, broke, no extra money for anything horse owner!

Anonymous said...

As a longtime "Lurker" I'd like to say this is a wonderful site with tons of invaluable info for me and my horses.

I didn't see anything wrong with either of the posts in question. I thought they were both good and I agreed with parts of both.

Jeez gals...lighten up.

I'd hate to see Mugs have to waste her valuable time trying to keep the peace instead of writing about Tally, Mort, or the knots she tries to untie. I think these are the things that draw us all to her site.

If you're so thin skinned that you can't take any criticism about what you write...then don't post. Just read. It's what I do.

In the words of the famous one time philosopher, Rodney King, "Can't we all just get along?".

kel said...

Reading A's story didn't make me think that she was anti trainer. I enjoyed her story and saw myself in it to a certain extent. I think she and I had pretty much the same horse upbringing - as I believe mugs did. Horse minus money is not a great combo for a 7 year old. I didn't take lessons until I was in my 40's. What I learned on my own as a young'um was invaluable. Do I think I could have got there a lot faster with some lessons - Heck YES. Do I think that lessons are a replacement for the practical experience - Heck NO.
Why can't we have it all?

DarcC said...

FWIW, I did not take any anti-trainer message from Alexis' post. Some people are fortunate enough to have a good trainer, others not so much. My first trainer was awful, but at the time I did not know. She was competent technically, but over a period of years got me into class A show horses then slowly convinced me that I wasn't good enough to ride them. It took a lot of years to undo that damage to my confidence. Who am I kidding, it's not undone, but at least I am aware of it now, and can recognize and work despite it.

I have since had GREAT trainers, but my proudest equine accomplishments are the things I have done on my own.

Anonymous said...

"I'd hate to see Mugs have to waste her valuable time trying to keep the peace instead of writing about Tally, Mort, or the knots she tries to untie. I think these are the things that draw us all to her site."


"I start all posts in a word document. Let then sit, do some editing, stew on how I want the thought I'm trying so hard, yet absmally missing, to be coveyed and be felt by readers."

In my humble opinion, this is a great way to write a blog post, reflect, and re-write.

I encourage everyone to use more descriptive words rather than less - searching for the right word to convey your meaning. And not using any of the seven dirty words George Carlin said you can't say on television. Unless of course you are obviously being funny as hell.


mugwump said...

"Countering with questions is definitely less confrontational (and welcomes further debate) than countering with statements."

Kel nailed it...

RHF said...

I enjoyed A's story and was annoyed by Aegle's tone as well, so much so that I didn't check back in the comments like I usually do. What most took me by surprise was the way this nice story was refocused into a lot of "proving oneself". I love discussion about training methods, general ass hattery, horses, bloodlines, tack, and a lot of other stuff, but do we really need to debate whether or not people need trainers just because someone posted about their childhood without one?

My recommendation for comment guidlines? RELEVANT!

mugwump said...

Good point RHF.

I was thinking about this...I think the story telling shold be left alone, I don't want a single person to shy away from telling their tale.
How about suggesting with this one (Sorry A, you're just handy), someone could say..."How about a post about the benefit of trainers compared to figuring things out on our own, especially for children?

THEN we could run with it.

Lucky SC said...

I love a good debate, and on things I feel strongly about, I enjoy the banter with people who think differently.

I really enjoy your writing, your stories and the bits of training advice I pick up. I don't always read the comments (except scrolling through for yours) because some folks are so one-way in their thoughts, and take things so personally.

I'm a big girl, almost 52 years old, and I don't have to be right all the time, nor do I have to convince others that there is a better way. I look forward to some good discussion :)

redhorse said...

You're on the right track. I agree that it would be better to say, "what worked for me..." instead of "THIS is the way it's done."

What's so important to me about this blog, is that we seem to be able to share thoughts and stories that we have deep feelings about. It's easy to get your nose out of joint when someone attacks a belief you're very emotional about. It's also hard to remember that when you're being flippant or snarky. I didn't mean that to sound preachy.

Anonymous said...

I went back and reread her story and couldn't figure out why in the world anyone would have nasty comments to make. There's no way I'm reading through 67 comments but people need to get over themselves. Everyone has a different opinion. She wasn't saying "all trainers suck and no one should use one," she was simply saying what worked for her.
As far as needing trainers, a trainer can only take a rider so far. I've seen people that have been taking lessons for years and still can't ride very well. I personally know someone that has gone through four trainers in the time that I've known her and she simply can't get it right. She can't feel the horse. So just because something works for one person, doesn't mean it's going to work for all. At another forum where it is heavily moderated and everyone plays nice, the moderator tells them they must behave as if they were speaking to each other in their living room, and when they have a differing opinion, you say "this is how I do it," you don't attack a person's ideas or way of doing things.

Holly said...

A community forum for our island of 4,000 people has this rule stated in the header -

"Please keep your comments civil. Don't attack others personally, and keep your language decent."

The owner of the forum is the arbitrator of what crosses those lines. Sometimes keeping it simple is best.

burdfour said...

I loved A's post, it gave me goosebumps. I think that I (my body and mind) still have to figure out how to do stuff, even with an instructor. I do almost all of my own riding, but really get a lot of benefit from coaching. Sometimes I will totally fail to comprehend or communicate to the horse what the lesson/point/technique was supposed to be, but usually sometime in the next week, it will (usually) come together. I think it has to do with muscle (or brain) memory of all the years that I have done it "my way" it just takes a while to overcome that.

Anonymous said...

Alexis (and the community at large) please grow a thicker skin. You can't please everyone. I really love mugs stories but can't stand when discussions/blogs are wasted on hurt feelings. Life isn't fair. People are rude. Now lets move on to something interesting.

mugwump said...

anon- glad you like my stories....this blog attracts us new age sensitive types, we like each other a lot and are just fine with our thin skins.
Part of what changed the Chronicles from a blog to a community is the fact we address things that bother us.
I'll jump in to defend whoever I feel the need to.
The rest of the bloggers will do the same.

flyin'horse said...

I am pretty torn after reading yesterday's and today's posts also! Always been my problem; in my experience most things are not black and white but many shades of grey. I think A's reaction (kiss my ass or something similar?) was due to the fact that the story was very personal to her and she didn't expect to hear criticism about it. Maybe the Mouthy Monday feature should be off limits for criticism? The writers are using their personal experiences and creating a story out of them purely for the entertainment, enjoyment, inspirational value etc for others aren't they? That's the way I've always approached the reader's stories anyway.

mugwump said...

fly'n horse- that's my point...a post idea from a story is one thing...but the stories are just stories to read and enjoy.

Calm, Forward, Straight said...


In this medium especially, I believe it is judicious not to assume people are out to get you when they express a differing opinion. Even if they aren't the most tactful writers, you may come off as being defensive. This dynamic often leads to all out communication breakdown... and cursing. ;)

Mouth closed - ears open, and definitely sit on a post for a while if you're feeling a little het up. I'd hate to see even the tiniest bit of censorship here.

For the record - didn't want to bury this in the last post - I would give anything to have regular access to a trainer. It's three plus hours to the nearest one. Just lost mine of four years to the economy.

That said, since working on my own, there's been a super positive shift in my riding and relationship with my horse - breakthrough city. It's all good. :)

flyin'horse said...

Here's something we could talk about in the future that has to do with this same topic. Why, in the world of horses, and horsewomen in particular, are there so many women who are opinionated, hardheaded, stubborn, egotistical and plain old pains-in-the-rear? When I meet a new horsewoman and she seems to be none of the above, I find myself saying "I met a really nice gal today and she seems so normal"! Ha! I do have a handful of women friends that I enjoy riding with and am proud to call friends so I'm not totally hard to please! Just wondering if anybody else finds this to be true and what their thoughts are on it. Or should I have put this in the mind meld section mugs?

mysanity said...

Well, I'm going to have to go back and read what went on. I did have a niggling feeling I came across a little snippy to Aegle, but I felt A's "story" was just that, a story that was interesting to read and brought back memories.

There's all kinds of horse blogs, part of why I like this one is because the quality of the writing.

Becky said...


It's because, over time, all horsewomen slowly evolve into grumpy alpha mares that just happen to walk on two legs - the kind of pissy looking mare that thinks everyone is trying to steal their feed and pin their ears at everyone in sight.

It's an unfortunate side effect of being horseaii.

mugwump said...

Calm, Forward and Straight -We can comment anywhere....what has always worked before and is probably the easiest solution is to simply ignore commenters who rub the wrong way. Eventually they either play nice or fade away....

redhorse said...

Flyin--I thought those were some of our best traits.

Becky--that too.

Mrs. E said...

I love this forum. Would like to share something from my professional life that might help in the discussion here.

When you use "you should" with someone even when trying to help, they often feel "should upon.":D

We all have thing that we would go back and change and many that we would not. At 45, I had a horse/life changing experience that I wish I'd had when I was 25. I often think back on how it might have changed or improved my horsemanship. But hindsight is 20/20 and now I try to learn and share as best I can.

GreyDrakkon said...

I'd hate to see comments censored, if only that critiques are valuable! In this case it wasn't appreciated or thought of as helpful, but in so many cases having an opposing viewpoint to play off of can strengthen your writing/ storytelling's skills.
In this case, the story came off as anti-trainer (at least at first blush) to many readers. If I had written it and kept getting people thinking that when I didn't mean to convey that, I'd take another look at my story and see what I need to do in the future to be clearer.
I dunno, maybe it's my art background speaking here. There's nothing more maddening to an artist than hearing "It's nice." when asking someone what they think about what they've just made.

deedee said...

Mort Mort Mort!
Tally Tally Tally!
Leland Leland Leland!
Sonorita(sp?) Sonorita Sonorita!
Kidlette Kiddlette Kidlet!
Big K Big K Big K!
Enough already.

p.s. Mugs, remember that terrible tool you were forced to use on Cupcake? We have a horse here that needs that desparately. He has one undescended not cut off at his gelding and was never socialized properly with other horses or humans. Otherwise he is on his way to Mexico for training or worse.
Gorgeous looker and mover in a masterful hand. I am in Cupertino, CA. Anyone locally can help?

luvredponies said...

We all have an opinion about how and when to deal with our horses. Some head straight for the trainer, and some would never even consider it. Lots of people are somewhere in between. Opinions run the gamut when it comes to breeds, tack, riding discipline, blanketing, even hand feeding treats :) To say that my way is the only way, and to be insulting in doing so, is childish and useless. If you don't agree, and can't say so without being mean, then it may be best to keep that opinion to yourself. I like hearing from people who have a position 180 out from my own. I have been riding since I was a little kid, I have never worked with a trainer or attended a clinic, but I have learned a lot from other people, including some half my age with considerably less experience than I have. The reality is that there is no ONE method that will work on every horse. The great thing about Blogs and Forums is the opportunity to learn from each other, but it gets difficult when folks get nasty.

Bif said...

I didn't actually read ANY of the comments on that post, and haven't read these yet. I'll go back through, but my opinion before that:

Fugly attracted all sorts.

I stopped reading Fugly Horse of the Day comments a LOOONG time ago, after she had gotten away from the original focus of the blog and attracted a larger and "different" audience.

I think the premise should be this, for this blog and any that doesn't want to disintegrate into the Fugly craziness:

In other words, tact. Compassion. Acknowledgement of human failings, one's one failings, and the wisdom to stay quiet "when you don't know any better", and asking appropriate questions "when you don't know any better."

It is great to expand readership, it is good to have different points of views. But it is difficult to wade through tons and tons of comments, especially ones that don't really serve to enrich *anyone's* life.

Is it the type of discussion that would peak your interest at the horse party, or a cue that you are going to wander out to the barn to see the host's horses because the human element of the party has gotten a little too over the top?

I sent in a Mouthy Monday submission the other day, and almost immediately thought to send a retraction request. I was leery of the large readership over here.

Many of us found Mugwump Chronicles through There are possibly many who would fit in wonderfully with the original readership of THIS blog before Mugs' writing stint over on, and those we all welcome.

Frankly, if a newer readers would read past posts and comments of The Mugwump Chronicles and see if their idea of following a blog fits with what's here, honest and introspective discussions held with tact and compassion, then welcome and please stay and the more the merrier.

If a new reader is more into sensationalism and watching reactions to themselves, or instigating mayhem with little point and less tact, please recognize that most readers here would rather you not comment.

Or at least that's my preference, but I think I do speak for most Mugwumpians.


mugwump said...

Mugwumpians - I like that. I don't think we will get too big over here.

The people who are comfortable on this blog ten to be the kind I like to ride with.

Into their horses, not into what impression they make...

The more I think about it, the more I think simply ignoring out of line comments is the way to go.

Mrs. E said...

If we all go back to what we all know, the day you stop learning is the day you die, then we can all share and learn from each other.

LadyFarrier said...

Hmmm - I thought Aegle's post was thoughtful and well written. I didn't see any "slamming" of anyone. She did point out a few things that are true, and when you reach a certain age, you're supposed to have learned from things and to do them better than you used to. I guess you just have to reach a certain level of maturity to have enough perspective to see that.

Jenn said...

Looking forward to what's next.

I too liked the variety of experience and attitude that the Fugly blog attracted.

flyin'horse said...


HA, perfect! I know a couple of women who look just like that picture you put in my mind! Maybe that's why I hang out with mostly geldings...

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