View Full Version : The mental health of horse people (or lack of)

Policy of Truth
May. 17, 2001, 05:43 PM
Ok. I will admit this sounds a bit as an attack. Well, it was intended to sound that way to hopefully gain attention as well as spark a dialogue.

As the majority know, I have just recieved my Master's in Counseling. This by NO MEANS qualifies me to say what I will say, nor, conversely does it disqulify me. I mention it to properly disclose who I am so that nobody can attack me from a manipulative perspective (you can see I have been on this bb for a while /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif )

This is how I see it. You can agree, disagree or not participate. I do want a good discussion, one without trolls and one without personal attacks. These are my only two rules. If people fail to comply, I will lock the thread.

It has struck me that the majority of equestrians are rather dysfunctional as a whole. I realize that the word is one that is thrown around a lot, so let me place it in a working definition for this discussion: Dysfunction is when people either lack healthy emotional skills, refuse to obey other people's boundaries, do not have boundaries of their own, and who shut other people out of their lives simply because they do not agree completely with other people's philosphies.

Granted, this is the definition I am using for the sake of this thread, but if anyone adds to it, fine by me...just keep it obvious so that others can follow.

Based on this definition, I have good reason to believe that our equestrian world is full of dysfunction and I would like to know what others in this industry think. I would make a bet (virtual of course!) that per capita, this industry contains more people with personality disorders than most other hobbies/businesses. I do not know this for a fact...it is merely specualation derived from 23 years being involved with horse people.

I also want to know why the majority of us just accept "that's the way it is" because we are too afraid to fight the ridiculous personalities that try to control some parts of this industry.

Believe it or not, there is no person I am thinking of in particular as I write this!

My background is hunter/jumper and therefore that is my reason for placing it in this forum. If this needs to be moved, please do so, Erin et al!

Alright, please play nice but please also be forth-comming. Your honesty will be more helpful!

On deck....GO!

Policy of Truth
May. 17, 2001, 05:43 PM
Ok. I will admit this sounds a bit as an attack. Well, it was intended to sound that way to hopefully gain attention as well as spark a dialogue.

As the majority know, I have just recieved my Master's in Counseling. This by NO MEANS qualifies me to say what I will say, nor, conversely does it disqulify me. I mention it to properly disclose who I am so that nobody can attack me from a manipulative perspective (you can see I have been on this bb for a while /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif )

This is how I see it. You can agree, disagree or not participate. I do want a good discussion, one without trolls and one without personal attacks. These are my only two rules. If people fail to comply, I will lock the thread.

It has struck me that the majority of equestrians are rather dysfunctional as a whole. I realize that the word is one that is thrown around a lot, so let me place it in a working definition for this discussion: Dysfunction is when people either lack healthy emotional skills, refuse to obey other people's boundaries, do not have boundaries of their own, and who shut other people out of their lives simply because they do not agree completely with other people's philosphies.

Granted, this is the definition I am using for the sake of this thread, but if anyone adds to it, fine by me...just keep it obvious so that others can follow.

Based on this definition, I have good reason to believe that our equestrian world is full of dysfunction and I would like to know what others in this industry think. I would make a bet (virtual of course!) that per capita, this industry contains more people with personality disorders than most other hobbies/businesses. I do not know this for a fact...it is merely specualation derived from 23 years being involved with horse people.

I also want to know why the majority of us just accept "that's the way it is" because we are too afraid to fight the ridiculous personalities that try to control some parts of this industry.

Believe it or not, there is no person I am thinking of in particular as I write this!

My background is hunter/jumper and therefore that is my reason for placing it in this forum. If this needs to be moved, please do so, Erin et al!

Alright, please play nice but please also be forth-comming. Your honesty will be more helpful!

On deck....GO!

May. 17, 2001, 06:05 PM
Okay, this is just my opinion based on people that I have come into contact with in the horse world. I have found that in general the people I have met in the horse world that have the most money are the most dysfunctional. I have no idea why this may be the case, but the people I have met who really have a lot of money, are the nuttiest, and the most difficult to deal with. Many of them act like they are always owed something...that they somehow have priority because they have more money. If my observations were applied on a large scale, there are more people in the horse world with a lot of money, and therefore a larger group of dysfunctional people. Now, before anyone flames me, there are MANY people with a lot of money that are very normal. I've just noticed that the people I've met in the horse world seem to be more dysfunctional the more money they have.

May. 17, 2001, 06:26 PM
My mom said many times, in despair, "I have never met more bad people than in the horse world." And Ian Millar said something like "I don't know whether the horse world attracts such eccentrics or creates them, but there certainly is a large amount of them."

I've noticed the scarily huge amount of "dysfunctional" horse people too. Going along Ian's line of thinking, maybe it doesn't attract the difficult and troubled people but creates them? I have found that there are more "bad" pros than there are amateurs (maybe that's just because I've actually had to deal with pros but anyways..) and pros obviously have more stress since they're making a living off of the horses and not solely enjoying them. Perhaps that line of business is so stressful and unstable and taxing that a large number of them "go bad." And I don't envy them for having to deal with the kind of people described above. If you're around enough strange and/or difficult people all the time, that mentality may rub off on you.

Blue Devil
May. 17, 2001, 06:29 PM
I have found, at least with my junior peers, that many juniors ride for the theraputic benefit (although we don't necessarily call it that!) of escaping some sort of dysfunctional behavior--albeit siblings, parents, or other troubling situations.

While some will argue this point with me I expect, horses bring some sort of stability. They don't (normally) have extreme mood swings, they can't be emotionally abusive, and they provide a sense of control and self-confidence. A lot of people who have problems seek this in their lives and this draws them (subconsciously) to riding I think....

**~~Emily~~** proud member of the junior clique!

May. 17, 2001, 06:42 PM
I didn't start out with problems, being heavily involved with the horse world created them. Although I do wonder whether I had some sort of mental problem to begin with, choosing such an expensive sport (kidding... I think). /infopop/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif But I'd say it could go both ways- that dysfunction could be a result, or that dysfunctional people are drawn to the sport.

But wow, I just noticed this. I've been riding just under four years and I already know 4 or 5 highly dysfunctional horse people. In my whole life, I've met one person outside of the horse world that could truly be labeled that. Weird.

~Erin Lizzy
Visit my Website (http://www.virtue.nu/sugabebe/)!

May. 17, 2001, 06:54 PM
But a psych major. Anyway, I think maybe we develop the personality disorders in this sport as a defense. Mostly I think the problems come out of lack of confidence and lack of communication. This of course is just an idea, but it seems to me, personally, that all the issues I've had in the horse-world dealt with me having one idea and the other party thinking something completely different, which resulted in each of us thinking the other was completely dysfunctional. I'm not sure anyone can follow what I'm trying to say, but hopefully you all get the idea!

Whip 'N Spurs
May. 17, 2001, 07:00 PM
I couldn't agree more. I know so many people in the horse world who are quite dysfunctional. They can't go a day without boasting about money, their horses, etc. and some even go out of their way to make themselves look good for others. Don't ask me why. Sure there are show offs in every sport, but it seems to be very present here.. One of my old friends (or trainers, I'm not going to say) brought all of her problems to the barn. Debt, divorce, family problems, etc. and all of us had to bear it. Eventually this drove me away, but it is way unhealthy for those who still ride at that barn. And the gossip! Gossip is SO bad around here! Is it like that with anyone else? Every show I go to..gossip,gossip,gossip. Every time I go to the barn to ride (or it used to be this way, I haven't noticed ANY gossip at the new barn) gossip,gossip,gossip. Anyway, my opinion probably doesn't mean much, but that's just my two cents..

Laura & Uno

B.G.M. heidi
May. 17, 2001, 07:10 PM
The more involved one becomes in the horse world, the more disenfranchised one gets from the 'real' world.

Most of the pros in the industry have no real education to speak of, many of the sport's highly-touted participants are troubled (and wealthy), the sport, independent of the people who populate it, is deemed as that of kings, we tend to anthropomorphize our horses and thus they soon become our surrogate children, friends, partners -- why is anyone surprised that many in the sport aren't able to achieve a balance between what is, essentially, a 'hobby', and what constitutes a 'real life'?

I'd query, though, pacificsolo, whether the definition of sound mental health really compares apples to apples or apples to oranges. How many of us know avid golfers, hockey players, hell, business people, who've similarly excluded from their lives that which doesn't satisfy their passions or ambitions?

Perhaps the only conclusion is that we're all kinda wacky.

May. 17, 2001, 07:12 PM
Heidi, I was thinking the same thing - about people who are passionate about other sports, etc. I would think they're just as crazy as us, right? /infopop/emoticons/icon_eek.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_cool.gif

May. 17, 2001, 07:12 PM
I agree about the show off thing--I can't help it but I like to show off to prove myself. DOn't know why!

Policy of Truth
May. 17, 2001, 07:13 PM
Supahstah, your opinion DOES matter! And thanks to the rest....good beginings!

Keep the dialogue comming! Understanding a problem is at the root of healing it!

May. 17, 2001, 07:13 PM
My favorite saying, which I've stuck on my computer monitor at work is:

Surgeon general's warning: horses are addictive, expense, and can impair the ability to use common sense.

B.G.M. heidi
May. 17, 2001, 07:20 PM
We can veer here from the clinically diagnosable, i.e. my schizophrenic sister, who would have been helped immeasurably by exposure to horses in her youth, to the profesionally 'idiosyncratic', my former boss who was a passive-aggressive dink extraordinaire, who'd fart loudly in meetings with Important Industry Folk as a measurement of his power.

My point is, there are dysfunctional people in every sport, every occupation, perhaps in every family.

Blue Devil
May. 17, 2001, 07:57 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>my former boss who was a passive-aggressive dink extraordinaire, who'd fart loudly in meetings with Important Industry Folk as a measurement of his power <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

**~~Emily~~** proud member of the junior clique!

May. 17, 2001, 08:12 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>about people who are passionate about other sports, etc. I would think they're just as crazy as us, right? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I sincerely don't think so. My sister was in ballet big time. She went to a special academy where they danced and did theory all day, and had special tutors for the kids in school. She went to a lot of competitions and overall, as my mom and her noticed, the people were not nearly as dysfunctional as horse people. Of course there was the whole eating disorder problems, but riding has that too and WAY MORE. I do ballet and jazz dance too (and used to do soccer and synchro swimming), competitively, though not nearly as intense as my sister, and have noticed the same.

Yes, every sport/hobby has their nutcases but I swear the horse world has a much higher proportion. Someone should do a study. But from my experiences and observations, and what I have heard from others, there is something extremely wrong with this sport in those regards.

May. 17, 2001, 08:19 PM
I dunno, Tosca...Although, I have to admit, it was the parents, not the kids, that scared me from football and cheerleading! I was so relieved when my kids decided not to continue with those two activities, at least for now. I haven't seen any TV Movies about equestrians killing or injuring others to get on a team...

I guess I was thinking of the participants at the very highest level of some of the other intense sports, like figure skating and gymnastics, etc.

Hmmmmm...It would be interesting to see a study done, but I still believe that many sports (and other activities) include participants who are just as we are. They're just not as lucky as we are, because their activity does not include horses. /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

May. 17, 2001, 09:12 PM
Hmmmm...well, equestrians may not kill or hurt each other to get on the team, but they sure will do a lot of bad things to their horses to get ahead!!! /infopop/emoticons/icon_eek.gif

May. 17, 2001, 10:32 PM
Remember that old cartoon where there was a huge convention room full of empty seats, and only two people sitting there? The caption was "Meeting of Functional Families".

Point being, what we used to label as rude, eccentric, self-centered, etc, we now call dysfunctional. But really, there aren't that many healthy people out there, anywhere.

Get this: one in three people will suffer a real mental illness during their lifetime. Haven't had yours yet? Count yourself lucky or get ready for the dive.

Do horses attract ill people? Hmmm. Most of my horse friends and people at my barn are pretty friendly, respectful, helpful and generally good to be around. Sure, I've met my share of sh*ts in the horse world, but I meet more of them everyday in traffic, pushing in front of lines at grocery stores, etc.

Seems the worst behavior I've seen is where there is added stress- at shows, or where someone's horse is sick, or someone isn't very in control and is scared, etc.

Now, once upon a time I took dance lessons. I really hated the people in ballet because they would smile to your face and talk about you behind your back. The incidence of the silent psycho disease, anorexia/bulimia, is about 75% in the ballet world. These are the girls who pretend its all OK when its not, and so they throw up all their anxiety.:rolleyes:

In the horse world, it seems easier to see it coming. And I agree, if you let them, the horses can be very powerful agents of healing.

May. 18, 2001, 04:23 AM
Wow, this gives a lot to think about.

My first response was, "This, coming from someone in a mental health field!!!" Having been/being highly involved in the mental health, medical and horse fields (on a pro and, in horses, ammy basis) I can say that mental health and medical are filled to overflowing with "dysfunctional people" - hell, it's why most of us go into it - to "help" others (read "help" ourselves or, in another viewpoint make ourselves feel better). That said....

My second response was that I grew up in the h/j/e world. Not particularly friendly, wealthy (but not ungodly like today) show people. When I got into eventing I found very different people. (My sister, the PhD in psychology - oh, yes, we're quite a family! Dad was a psychiatrist even! /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif - said "I thought all horse people were crazy but this is such a nice group!") Now, the people in my barn are all totally nuts. It's actually making me laugh as I think about it. Of, say, 10 core people, (including 2 teenagers and our 2 teachers), at least 3, that I know of, are on antidepressants, at least half, that I know of, are in therapy (and the rest probably should be), at least 2 are the kind of people you have to tip-toe around a little each day to see what kind of mood they're in (including me, we're both very cyclical - it's really nasty when we're in the same week of the month!! Oooooh, look out! /infopop/emoticons/icon_mad.gif ) But, we all totally love each other. And, moreso, we totally respect each other as humans and as horsepeople.

My third thought is, our poor poor horses!! It just shows what forgiving beings they are /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif . Horses so much appreciate consistency. Humans, in general aren't great in terms of consistency. Crazy (more or less) humans are even worse. (And me....well, I do my best to calm down once I'm in her presence - actually, and my

Fourth point, horses totally calm me down. I've been aware since childhood how therapeutic riding is for me. And for others. (For a time it was going to be a dissertation) So, at least if horse people are going to be crazy we have horses to keep us honest. Of course, I'm talking about those I know. I'm aware that there are tons of people who do not allow their horses to keep them honest - who beat, maim, break or sell to their own advantage (sell, please sell).

Fifth (and final, phew) - we are a bunch of control-mongers. Who else would want to get on the back of a huge animal and make it trot in place or jump huge jumps galloping cross country or gigantic pick-up-sticks on poles in a ring for time!!

Read Jane Smiley's article in the Sunday NYT a couple of weeks ago.

I love horses. Thank god for them. Imagine where we'd all be! /infopop/emoticons/icon_confused.gif Last night I dreamed that I was galloping on the beach on the pink horse. I've never done that. It was a wonderful feeling!

May. 18, 2001, 05:17 AM
This is a very interesting topic. My husband always says that he thinks that horse people are wackier than most. I tend to disagree.

Have you ever been to a Little League / Pee Wee Football / etc. game? Watch the parents. Its scary.

How about those of you who work in the Corporate world? Wacky people inhabit that neck of the woods as well - all the way from those who are constantly clawing at each other over trivial items to many of the senior executives sitting in corner offices thinking that they are the company and that everyone is there to serve them.

What about big sports? Both the coaches and the players have their, um, difficulties (Daryl Strawberry, Latrell Sprewell (sp?), Bobby Knight, Tonya Harding etc., etc., etc.).

And then, of course, many of us have dealt with the less-than-honest car dealer, real estate agent, stock broker (just to name a few).

I don't mean this to sound as if I think all people are wacky / dishonest / dysfunctional. I just think that there are dysfunctional people in all areas of life. I don't necessarily think that the horse world has the corner on the market!

Just my opinion.

May. 18, 2001, 07:58 AM
Based on personal experience I clearly do not think the horseworld has any market on 'disfunctional' individuals. In fact, the great majority of my experiences with other horse enthusiasts is positive. I will include in those positive experiences reading the posts of many of the contributors on this board, which, however, is really cyberlife rather than real life.

I also agree with Horsefeathers that there are far fewer 'fuctional' people anywhere aka the 1950's tv version than most of us have been led to believe.

May. 18, 2001, 07:59 AM
Hey, the majority of equestrians make their living doing something else and the horses are for "fun". Lets turn the question around and ask what "non horse careers" do dysfunctional horse people have in common?? /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

It seems to me a lot of dysfunction is rooted in ones environment and the choices one makes to change the environment- are you a victim or a fighter.
??? That is not to be confused with a person who couldn't hit the floor with their hat or a person who is TRUELY ecentric!!

Dr. Horsefeathers post summed it up well, IMHO. /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

May. 18, 2001, 08:24 AM
In my experience, the horse world looks rather like a representative sample of the rest of the world with respect to the incidence of mental health "issues." I encounter people suffering from varied psychoses, delusions, and personality disorders in about the same proportion in horses as I do outside of horses.

I've been lucky to have met some of the most sane, reliable, rational and competent people I know through horses, and I count a few of those among my very best friends.

I've never perceived anything inherently healing or, by contrast, crazy-making about horses. I have noticed, however, that people who come into the sport with mental health problems react to horses in different, individual ways. For some, horses bring peace. For others, their horses suffer as a result of the rider's inability to control impulses.

Interesting topic, pacificsolo. One of my aforementioned best friends, by the way, has been a clinical therapist for over 15 years, and based on her descriptions of colleagues' behavior, I've come to the conclusion that mental health professionals are among the most dysfunctional people around. I'm neither kidding nor exaggerating. You people are nuts! /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

May. 18, 2001, 09:17 AM
Copied over from H/J... for some reason it didn't work on the first try. Hopefully we won't end up with two copies!

Please carry on! /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

[This message was edited by Erin on May. 18, 2001 at 12:31 PM.]

May. 18, 2001, 10:29 AM
Bumping this up, to make sure it doesn't get lost over here! /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Policy of Truth
May. 18, 2001, 10:33 AM
Those who said people in the mental health industry are nts are correct!

Without going into a long story, I will say in my defense that I ran from my calling for six years before begining my studies!

I love my chosen proffesion, and I am aware of the pit-falls. There are many programs that accept people in terms of their grades (GPA and other measures)but forget to actually give any testing instruments to determine whether a person is stable enough to become a counselor. There are a lot of weirdos in this proffesion, and I'm sure I'm one of them! I am somewhat stable but by no means normal!

I am wondering if anyone has noticed that horsepeople have certain "rules" that defy logic and reality. I am thinking of a particular person who owns a boarding facility that is by far the most serene place I have ever been. The catch is that with over a hundred acres of available land, 17 horses and a natural spring that collects in a pond, the owner will not allow the horses more than 6-8 hours of turnout. NOT because these are show horses (most are pets or retirees), NOT because of the lack of grazing (she has to mow quite a bit) and NOT because the horses do not get along (I call them the "get-along gang"). So, why does she insist they not be allowed turnout? Because she herself feels that they LIKE their stalls and that if they are out after dark, something really bad might happen. I asked what this bad thing might be, and she stammered and said it was something of a motherly instinct!

OK! Horses somehow manage to keep themselves alive at my friend's barn and all over the wild west! This is her own neurosis and the poor horses are suffering for it! She even said they are like her children! NEWSFLASH! Horses are capable of taking care of themselves! She has so many horses with stocked up legs yet she refused to believe letting them outside longer might help.

Anyway, sorry for the rant....just another perspective!

May. 19, 2001, 04:33 AM

While I definitely agree with your basic premise (oh, the tales I could tell about the neurasthenic riders I've known!), I had to respond to your example of the barn owner who restricts turn out.

After subjecting my horses to barns with limited turn out, I moved to North Carolina and found a stable able to provide as much pasture time as wanted. Much to my surprise, neither of my beasts will tolerate more than 5 or 6 hours outside. They will graze happily for awhile, then begin galloping and rushing the fence, demanding to be taken to their stalls (which they do, incidentally, love.) I think part of their reluctance to stay outside is due to flies, but for what ever reason, they truly do reject the notion of living outside. And I would be extremely reluctant to turn them out at night when no one would be around if they started to run. (Maybe it's the horses who are dysfunctional??? No one would ever confuse my Thoroughbreds with self reliant mustangs, that's for sure!)

May. 19, 2001, 04:46 AM
I'm not saying you are right or wrong.
Unless you are thoroughly involved with at least 3 other sports( like auto racing,airplane flying etc.) I don't think you are qualified to say that we(horsemen)are more dysfunctional than and other privledged wealthy group.

May. 19, 2001, 06:35 PM
I really don't think horse people as a whole are more neurotic than the general population. Rather, I think humankind is a lot more neurotic than most realize. Oh, I may KNOW about all the problems my horsey friends deal with.... but that's just because we're very open about it. I'm sure my oh-so-professional and pulled together work colleagues have SCADS of mental issues... it's just not something you talk about.

I do think at the upper levels of the sport you may see more mental health issues than the general population. But I think that's true in any sport at the elite level. You get a population of very driven, very competitive perfectionists, and you'll naturally see more anxiety, eating disorders, etc.

May. 19, 2001, 09:13 PM
I don't think the horse world is any different than any other odd assortment of people. (As Heidi pointed out, my coworkers and even members of my own family have been the "oddest ducks" I've EVER met!)

As a sport, I think that horses provide a recreational opportunity for the vast majority of participants. I participated in fairly high level gymnastics for 10 years and I can truly say that I found that world much more dysfunctional. Gymnastics really has no "recreational" aspect to it once you start competing. Kids are pushed incredibly hard because the time frame is so small for high level success. You would be amazed at how kids are treated by coaches, and how the parents turn a blind eye to this and other problems. I'm not saying everyone is like this, but it is a little disturbing to see the physical and mental pain and suffering a pre-teen endures for the slight chance of success later on.

I think horses contrast gymnastics and offer so many levels of enjoyment for many people, and would say that the MAJORITY of horse people are just horse-crazy, but otherwise "normal" individuals. That said, the world is a scary place and there are many unstable and dangerous people from all sports, professions and walks of life.

May. 19, 2001, 10:12 PM
Most serious hobbists, horsey and non-horsey, are usually a little left of center. In fact, has anyone met or know anyone else who is completely non-dysfunctional? I sure don't. The horsey group as a whole attracts lots of folks from various socio-economical levels and out of that group of individuals I believe it's the trainers that are a little kooky. Anyone with barely an education can hang out a shingle and advertise themselves as a trainer (unfortunately).

However, the screwiest bunch of folks I ever ran across was the dog show group. If you've seen "Best in Show" the characters were so typical of the folks that did the dog show circuit. Really, really weird. They make the horsey bunch look normal. /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

May. 20, 2001, 09:28 AM
While I agree that many of us in the mental health field enter it for our own self-cure reasons (read, yes we start out pretty nutty!) As one matures, hopefully, one is able to give up on those dysfunctional reasons to help people. Then the challenge becomes, do I really want to stay in this very stressful, depressing line of work when I have solved my own challenges and don't "need" to?
I began to feel like an emotional prostitute, renting out my very intimate empathy and mental skills and that was icky.
But then I realized that, hey, there were other reasons I went into this. Like, I enjoy hearing other people's stories, and I know life is bearable, and hope is something I can point out to people. Did I really want to re-train in another field when this one pays well enough to keep my horses!
Well, in this journey, I did re-train, as a coach/trainer- I have all the paper to prove it. But guess what- I actually like psychiatry better. At least there we acknowledge that we are working on our psychic problems. Coaches are often called to work on their student's emotional issues without acutally being allowed to come out and say "the reason your horse is tense is because you are so uptight!"
Blessings on all, dysfunctional as we are, keep in mind what is really important in life and the other stuff will sort out.
And the other maxim is, a problem shared is a problem halved, a pleasure shared is a pleasure doubled.

May. 20, 2001, 09:41 AM
Missed out renting BIS last night, can't wait to see it next weekend!!
A friend is in it, they filmed it up in Vancouver and he would talk to me on his cell all the time from the set and his drive to and from.
I have to agree, the dog show and breeding world IMHO is far worse.
Helps me see the horse world in a more humourous light that is for certain.
I am waiting for Chevy Chase or someone to make a Horse Show spoof like BIS!!! /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

Policy of Truth
May. 20, 2001, 02:48 PM
I am involved with other sports intensely! My father owns an invitation-only basketball camp where a huge number of the stars you see today were scouted out from. I know these people can be dysfunctional...but NOT on the level as equestrians!

I particpated for years in theatre/music and as eccentric as many are, none can compare to the horse folk I know and know of!

Lucien...I understand that some horses do not like to be outside, but mine (actually, all of the horses I have owned!) hates the stall! And, I don't much blame him. But, I see what you mean. I guess the woman's need for them to be "safe" is what got me...she didn't care that one chestnut dug a hole in his stall every night /infopop/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif

Anyway, my opinion still stands that people in our horse world tend to be more dysfunctional as a whole compared to other "worlds" out there...again, just an observation that some will agree, and some will disagree with /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

May. 20, 2001, 03:20 PM
Hmmmm Bumpkin, your ideas are outstanding! I can see it now, "National Lapoons Horse Show Vacation". Has a ring to it, don't you think? /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

May. 20, 2001, 04:56 PM
And I know just where Chevy can get his "material" from! /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_razz.gif

May. 20, 2001, 05:38 PM
Someone actually DOUBTED that horse people are dysfunctional? You mean they didn't KNOW they were?

What else would you call a family that 2nd mortgages a home so one child can have a horse just so that she can win ribbons and prizes with a total year end value of maybe $500?

What else would you call the trainer who INSISTS that their students only wear certain brands, have certain tack, comes only at certain times, demands total control of the horse and owner's pocketbook?

(Hey, you there! The one who answers in defense/explanation of this trainer - you're not wrapped too tight yourself!)

What else would you call the people who willing obey the trainer described above?

OF COURSE WE'RE ALL NUTS. WE'RE ONLY HUMAN. Our saving grace is that "Dys" aside, we're still "functional" just a little odd, quirky, paranoid, controlling, anal-retentive, or all of the above.

The reason we're drawn to horses is that horses, even more than dogs because dogs could survive w/o us if turned loose (not *well* mind you) horses are truly dependent on us. By caring for them we become centered, grounded. Their very size, majesty, vitality, calls to us in a primitive, instintive way. The routine of caring for them (horses do better on a schedule) creates a pattern in our lives. A consistancy that fosters an ability to transfer our 'center' to other areas of our lives.

You want to see some sane people? Go visit a dairy farm. These farmers get up everyday just to ease animals pain. EVERY DAY. NO VACATION. There is something even more elemental about getting milk from a cow. A daily miracle of watching life-giving nourishment gush forth from an animal.

Dysfunctional? You bet I am. But I can 'mask' it and fit in with the world. Only you, my fellow BBers, know how truly strange I can be.

/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_eek.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

"Always look on the bright side of life, de doo, de doo de doo de doo"

May. 21, 2001, 01:20 PM
Has anyone else noticed the presence of undiagnosed depression at the Horse Shows? I really don't know why besides that people with too much money and not enough to do usually don't set boundaries or rules with how they will go with drinking/parting. And maybe all that alcohal has lowered the ceratonin levels in people brains....

Marion aka Long Acre Hats Off's GOOD LUCK CHARM (does that make me famouse?)

May. 21, 2001, 01:57 PM
I think that we must seperate the types of horsepeople we are talking about when we discuss relative levels of dysfunction, and I don't mean Western vs. Dressage vs. Eventing vs. Jumpers. I mean those who show on the circuit and those who don't.

I think that those who do not show in any of the big circuits, or perhaps do one or two big A shows a year are perhaps more grounded.

I say this becuase in two seperate periods in my life I have either spent time only on the local circuit or only flitting in and out as a spectator, groom/helper, exhibitor at A shows.

In the local shows you tend to see more parents around, more supervision of juniors, more people who's entire lives are not the horses, who do not spend every penny they make and moment of free time that they have with the horses. They tend to be slightly more well rounded in their approach to life (ie shows and showing are not their sole existance for a large part of the year).

At the A shows however - the money, the attitude, the sense of entitlement, the lack of junior supervision, the intense level of scrutiny, the need to keep up, the need to win, and the desire to look some ideal (whether weight, fashion, horse, whatever) seems far stronger and more prevalent.

Very few of the professionals I've encountered have college level educations, ever read a newspaper, or are ever surrounded by people that are not syncophants. They do work incredibly long hours, have to deal with often extremely needy rich women and children who expect them to be father/mother/therapist/coach all at once.

The competitors are not often enough the tough, tenacious hard working, understanding of the value of a dollar, thoughful, pitch in a pinch type of kids or adults. They are needy, too rich for their own good, expect to buy their way into success, too easily awed and drawn into the rockstar-partying lifestyle that is common, and that only seems to help erode their sense of self and their self esteem.

OK - before you start screaming at me - we all know and love those people that do not fit into the above stereotypes. I've found trainers who, although can party like a rockstar, are extremely grounded, keep their juniors in line, and can talk about and focus on a million other things than the horses.

I've found dear friends who show in all the big east coast shows all summer long, but we can have serious discussions about investment banking, child rearing (even though none of us have any) and a dozen other things that are in no way related to horses.

It seems to me, at the end of the day, and at the end of this long rambling post - the people who are not dysfunctional maintain a balance in their lives of friends, interests and pursuits off of the show grounds and outside the barn.

That balance is what I aim to keep - and given my extensive opinions spewed out in a wonderfully random fashion just now - when I start to lose this balance, you all are hereby appointed to slap me upside the head! /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif


May. 21, 2001, 05:02 PM
I just saw Best in Show last night /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif It was so good! Hilarious! I loved the yuppie couple and they're crazy escapades. I couldn't help but think some of those people (in the movie) were similar to horse people - like the ultra pampering of their pets and the paranoia/hysteria that their animal is a little "off".

May. 22, 2001, 08:53 AM
and some others - I don't see more "dysfunctional" people in horses than anywhere else.

Add to the stress of the A circuit (which, thankfully, I'm not on) - breeders. A wild cross between "Best in Show" and A circuit loonies.

BUT, joking aside, I think there is too much emphasis on "normalcy" in today's society. What is normal? IMO, it's an artificial standard similar to "average" - you take all the wide range of human behaviour, apply mathmatical wizardy somehow to come out with numerical values, and find the middle. /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

Live in a small town - you'll see every range of behaviour there is.

I say, Long live eccentricity! It's the eccentrics who bring colour and spice to our otherwise fairly routine lives.

Or am I digressing again? /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

May. 22, 2001, 09:31 AM
I must say I was struck, and a little dismayed, at how the posts in this thread seem to use "mental health problems," "neurotic," "dysfunctional," "wacky," and "eccentric" as interchangable...especially when this is done by mental health professionals. One person's quirky is another's mentally ill, and I think it is a little dangerous to throw around terms like that cavalierly without defining them appropriately.

Many people have noted that there seem to be as many "odd ducks" in other parts of society as there are in the horse world. I agree with those who noted that within the horse world, it often seems like it's the trainers who are the weirdest, or the most removed from reality. This, I think, is not necessarily due to the fact that they are inherently more "dysfunctional" but that they exist in a very closely circumscribed world where they have a lot of power and make all the rules. This environment may encourage some individuals--especially those who are not highly educated in the "outside world"--to ignore appropriate boundaries or otherwise act in ways that many would consider dysfunctional, because there is very little negative effect when they do...

just my armchair psychology...

May. 22, 2001, 09:59 AM
I have given this subject a lot of thought over the past few years. I've ridden western all my life, attending a lot of rather big shows and always rode with good trainers throughout the country. Not too many of them (or the customers, for that matter) were dysfunctional in any way. Normal as dirt. When I took up jumping several years ago, I was appalled at the difference. I have found that the customers seem pretty darn normal, it's the trainers that need heavy counseling, in my opinion. You know why customers turn crazy? It's because they have to DEAL with H/J trainers that generally have a loose screw or two!!!

May. 22, 2001, 01:49 PM
A top trainer I know once said "The problem with working in the horse business is all the damn horse people."

But, I digress. Yes, there are difficult and/or dysfunctional people in all aspects of society. And yes, I think the definition of normal depends alot on your point of view and the "social norms" of a given time and place. That being said, I think there are a few important points to consider.

First, anybody who becomes involved with horses (or any animal activity for that matter) most likely is drawn to working with animals because they lack people skills. Either they are not comfortable with people, or flat out dislike them, and/or they failed to learn how to operate iwhtin a community when they were children. The trick is, most people don't get to become involved with animals by moving into a deep, dark jungle with them and eschewing human contact. Most animals come with human counterparts (or at least require additional human help, like vets), and so now you have a bunch of people who got involved with animal to get away from people, now just as involved with people as ever. So, you get this community of people who can't communicate or work with each other worth a bean.

Second, being a competitive rider at a certain level does require a certain amount selfishness and self centerdness. I think this is the case in any competitive pursuit--when a goal takes over your life, their isn't room for much else in it. I think people who come into the perifery of a horseperson's life soon learn thatthey are not the most important thing. So, you have a lot of necessarily self-centered people in our community of horse folk.

Finally, there are a lot of nutty people in the world. That's the way it goes. Everybody's got a problem, everybody's got issues, everybody's got a story. This ain't the Brady Bunch.

Policy of Truth
May. 22, 2001, 08:45 PM
"First, anybody who becomes involved with horses (or any animal activity for that matter) most likely is drawn to working with animals because they lack people skills. Either they are not comfortable with people, or flat out dislike them, and/or they failed to learn how to operate iwhtin a community when they were children."

Sorry, I have to disagree. This is obviously your experience, so I am not saying you are wrong, but I know for myself, being an animal person has not been a compensatory reaction on my part to deal with people. In fact, my love for animals has if anything enhanced my relationships and developed my relationships with people. Frankly, I rarley dislike a person upon first meeting UNLESS they are clearly not animal people. In fact, non-animal lovers frighten me.

I believe someone is getting confused with terminology, so I want to remind people of my request in begining this thread....please define the terms you choose to use. I say this so that we can at least argue in the same language!

And to be clear, people can have quirks that are dysfunctional. People can also be eccentric without being dysfunctional. This is not a matter of normality vs weird...it's function vs. dysfunction. A lack of boundaries...either having or following them. It's having a neurotic personality that interferes with one's life or the lives of people who are in contact with that person.

Dr. Horsefeathers, please feel free to add on....I believe you are more experienced than I am.

May. 22, 2001, 10:26 PM
When I was much younger than I am today, I was "bitten" by the horse bug. Couldn't stop thinking, drawing, reading about horses. Going to the barn from sun up to sun down on the weekends and summer breaks. My life revolved around horses.
It had my parents convienced that I was not "normal." Their little daughter had nothing to do with school (hated it), boys or anything else for that matter. I didn't want to go on family vacations because I would miss a show or two and my favorite four-legged friends would miss me!
Yes, I even went to family counseling because of my so-called obsession.
For more than 30 years now, the horse has played a major roll in my life. They have fulfilled my dreams, lifted my spirts, and give me a reason to live this life.
Call me wacky, wierd, or even disfunctional, but I wouldn't have it any other way. To me the disfunctional people in this world are the ones who are the brown-nosers climbing the corporate ladders! /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

May. 23, 2001, 06:38 PM
Since I have been out of the "horseworld" for a while, yet still keeping a distant eye on the happenings.. (thus, invisible) I may have a different vew.

It frightens me to think of people living in such extremely small circles. I believe that many people get so enveloped in this make-believe world that they begin to lose sight of reality. A Grand Prix rider to an amatuer might seem god-like, yet a Grand Prix rider to a business executive is often thought of as a gay man in tights and a beanie.

My point is, people who are interested in horses should also keep one foot planted securely on the ground. It's just too easy to get caught up in all the corruption when you get sucked in. The good old-fashioned horse traders are standing knee deep in political manure, the people most effected by them are standing right along side. Step out for a minute and grab a breath of fresh air.. honest air.

May. 23, 2001, 06:57 PM
jp I was as horse crazy as you.
My sainted parents were very tolerant of the whole thing.
Thanks in part to them being Golf Fanatics, haha, so we all respected each others hobbies.
In 6th grade a teacher called my mother in and showed her how every page of my class work would have a small horse drawn on the corner, and saying it just was not "normal", my dear mother told her that she loved the horse pictures, and they were more normal than if I was drawing boys all over everything, /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

B.G.M. heidi
May. 23, 2001, 07:05 PM
I've had a couple of parties where I foolishly mixed horse people with 'civilians'. Needless to say, I spent those evenings feeling like I was straddling the Maginot Line - horse people in my kitchen, yapping away about a recent show, hoarding the food; civilians in the living room talking politics, movies, children, and affaires des coeurs. The only horsey person who made the attempt to mix was our trainer. This is a man, though, who actually ventures outside the horse world for his amusement.

It's very easy to become consumed by the horse world and the entirety of one's life to be circumscribed by horses and similarly afflicted horse folk. I can assert that same observation, though, for computer geeks, investment bankers (though none from this BB /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif ), entertainment folk, stay-at-home-mothers, etc., etc.

I don't know if 'sanity' can be summarized as such but I do think a healthy outlook is greatly assisted by a balanced approach.

May. 23, 2001, 07:17 PM
Now mind you, the very strict Off Course content monitors are not allowing us to broaden our horizons in a non-horsy way despite our best efforts. For example, were I to introduce the topic "Jim Jeffords Rocks" even though it is VERY horse-related (Morgans!) (the comatose Vermont Clique) it would surely be locked. Perhaps Heidi's argument will encourage them to loosen up so we do not all become dysfunctional social pariahs. And by the way, Jim Jeffords ROCKS.

B.G.M. heidi
May. 23, 2001, 07:24 PM
Ooooh, nutmeg, you are clearly onto something.

I'd agree that the BB moderators owes it to the world at large to maintain our balanced sanity by indulging our need to talk about, who was it, Jim Jeffords? Was he in the Beverly Hillbillies, BTW?

May. 23, 2001, 07:32 PM
He's the very cool senator from Vermont who is so disgusted by our C-student of a president that he is leaving the Republican party (which for a native Vermonter is tantamount to treason) and becoming an independent, thus denying the Bush administration a majority in the Senate! This changes the whole ball game! This is HUGE! Much like a Morgan's butt, to keep it horse related.

May. 23, 2001, 07:40 PM
TK, you are SO busted on the shameless hawking of real estate!

May. 23, 2001, 08:33 PM
Heidi, I've had one of those parties!!! The horse people NEVER mix! At one party there was even a near brawl over the artichoke cheese dip...horse people vs non-horse people...the horse people tried to capture the entire bowl of dip and hoard it in the dining room! /infopop/emoticons/icon_eek.gif

B.G.M. heidi
May. 23, 2001, 08:55 PM
Sometimes I think, AAJumper, that it's not that horse folk spend too much time with horses and on the show circuit but that they've suffered too long with horse show food - and hence, their tendency to hoard food, and not even food, but dips. Ask me some time about the kafuffle over my crab dip. /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

Nutmeg, I've been watching Nightline and gotta concur, that Jim Jeffords was not only great in Beverly Hillbillies, but he is, indeed, one cool dude of integrity.

May. 24, 2001, 07:02 AM
pacificsolo--of course not everybody has the same expereince, and I agree completely that my exposure to animals has enhanced my overall empathy and understafing of people.

That being said, I still maintain on some level people become involed with animals because they are not comfortable with people. Obviously, the level of discomfort can be directly correlated to the amount of involment. I don't mean involvment in terms of "spends 40 hours a week at the barn", but involvment in the sense of "Has 100 cats and never leaves the house", or, to take it to its extreme conclusion, "would rather AIDS wiped out most of the world's population rather than have animal trials for vaccines". (And please, let's not debate the merits of various sorts of animal testing, that's for another thread). There are a lot less severe exampled, and I was certainly one of them: I was a tomboy who never felt like I was living up to anyone's expectations properly--not the lady and scholar my parents wanted, not the "joiner" or "partier" the school kids wanted, not the "Catholic" that the school wanted. The horse's didn't expect anything from me other than a decent rider and a carrot. Did I shun human contact, of course not, and the friends I made at the barn tauight me a lot about learning to get along with people, but the horses were attractive because they weren't people.

I would also like to agree entirely about the issue of the horse world being a very small circle to travel in. Though I am still clearly a horse person, I am no longer ONLY a horse person--I work outside the horse world, and have other, non-horsey contacts. I recognize the difference when I spend time with old friends who are still only in the horse world, and discover that we have really nothing to talk about, except the horses. This strain became very obvious when I was recovering from my injury the last few years--all I was doing with horses was looking at them (and caring for them when I was able), and the covnersations became very strained indeed. My husband and I are both horse people, but we try to do non-horsey stuff a few times a month (movies, go to a play, etc)to try to "be outside of the box".

May. 24, 2001, 07:18 AM
HEE HEE!!! /infopop/emoticons/icon_razz.gif

Smart Alec
May. 24, 2001, 07:41 AM
You hit the nail on the head with this,
"It's very easy to become consumed by the horse world and the entirety of one's life to be circumscribed by horses and similarly afflicted horse folk. I can assert that same observation, though, for computer geeks, investment bankers (though none from this BB ), entertainment folk, stay-at-home-mothers, etc., etc."
When I stand back for a moment /infopop/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif and look at my life (I'm a 23 yr. old artschool graduate doing graphic design and just bought my first horse this past fall-I've ridden since I was little) I think....what the hell am I doing?? and where the hell am I going?? /infopop/emoticons/icon_eek.gif It is so easy to be caught up in anything! I think and some sports, jobs, hobbies, what have you, require a numerous amount of dedication and time in order to make them worthwhile. I can't just do sketches for 10 minutes and say, "Oh joy! I feel so fullfilled!"...just like I can't ride for 10 minutes and go home and say "wow, we got so much accomplished today" I think that anything that you really want to follow through on and be good at, you need to put a lot into it. Of course, there is the fine line between dedication and obsession....the thing is, I'll be the first to admit...I'm not sure I know where that fine line is. /infopop/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif

May. 24, 2001, 08:00 AM
it seems to me that any group with common interests tends to get focused on that interest to the exclusion of other things.

I've been in gatherings where the women were in the living room talking about nothing but children (in gross detail), recipes, and various housewifery topics while the men were in the kitchen talking ballgames, business and sniggery jokes.

I've been at entertainment industry functions - now there's a GOOD place to find disfunctional people! Topics: agents, facelifts, agents, self, agents, self, etc.

I've been to business gatherings - golf, latest government corporate welfare packages, golf, office gossip, golf.

Then I went to a meeting of our local horse people. Topics: horses, kids, other farm animals and functions, politics, history, african violets, music, theater, etc. etc.

The difference, IMO? Our horse group mostly consists of people who have known each other a long time and feel comfortable discussing a wide range of topics, rather than just the safe neutral ground of one shared interest. We even feel safe disagreeing with each other.

So were all the people at the other groups disfunctional? Not necesarily. I believe that everyone had more facets than were shown at these various functions, but the nature of the gatherings didn't really offer the opportunity to find out, since everyone was being very PC and careful to stay on neutral ground.

Point is, it takes awhile to feel that conversation outside a circumscribed area is appropriate - and if you're a pro, why would you take a chance on offending potential clients by expressing opinions on topics outside your field which might not be in agreement with the person(s) with whom you are conversing?

There's an idea in here somewhere -

May. 24, 2001, 09:03 AM
Boy did you get the self-centeredness right! I do think that is what most people who are driven in the sport do to reach their goals. You can only spend so much on energy on "X" if you are going to be the best so "Y and Z" fall to the wayside. When focused on such a single goal you feel you must wear blinders. I think it happens for all people, but when I've seen people in other countries they don't seem to be quite as obsessive as Americans. Maybe it's part of our makeup over here where we feel to be the best you have to sacrifice everything else...and maybe it isn't true. A lot of the European riders at the top seem to have a lot of other things in their lives...like relationships. Whereas most Americans just drive themselves towards the one goal and destroy everyone and everything else that gets in their way. (Generalization, I know, but it does seem to be a shoe that fits fairly well.)

You grow up the day you have your first real laugh--at yourself. (Ethel Barrymore)

May. 24, 2001, 01:58 PM

I have to agree with you. The dysfunctional American horsepeople do tend to put everything else by the way side to be able to accomplish their goals. My immediate thought is... what is that goal, and what price is being paid to near it. Example: the many people I know in the horseworld that are "submerged" in this political manure are not on their way to the Grand Prix ring. Many are simply trying to pin in the next class or get their greenie through the in gate of the next class. I can respect that these are personal goals for these people, however, is it necessary for these people to give up all else for a mere hobby? When we come right down to it, it is a hobby for anyone who is not generating an income from horses. I think the majority of horsepeople are not olympic hopefuls, yet still dysfunctional and one dimentional. Maybe there would be less corruption if people could really put it into perspective. What do you think?

May. 24, 2001, 02:11 PM
But I do think you missed something...there are MANY people who may not be Olympic material, yet dream of it. Funny how often these are the people who are most maniacal about their riding, and yet they can't achieve their dream because that intensity gets in the way. (I know how being too intense can get in the way of learning a sport--any sport.)

I think all should be able to dream, and yet I also think we should all be able to enjoy our little success along the way. Yet the American way is to be considered nothing, and everything along the way as less than nothing until the ultimate in any sport is achieved. Sad, isn't it? The saddest part is how it spills over into all parts of a sport most of us have come to out of love for the furry four-legged, four hooved beasties. It's too bad hindsight is 20/20, too, eh? /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif Guess it's always going to happen, but maybe with some more dialog like what we are experiencing out here, we'll see more people enlightened and get back to just having fun and enjoying every step along the way. Who needs to go out showing every weekend? What exactly are you proving and to whom?

My favorite stables are those where showing is an afterthought, and riding is foremost in everyone's mind.

Maybe our mantra should be, "Happy trails to you." Instead of "I'm going to get there, by gosh and by golly." (Had to make that a bit P.G. 13 out here, but I'm sure you get my drift.) /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

You grow up the day you have your first real laugh--at yourself. (Ethel Barrymore)

May. 24, 2001, 03:01 PM
Well, Invisible and Velvet, you have a point - BUT /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

replace "horse hobby" with golf, skiing, sailing, tennis, stamp collecting, pushing one's children to be the successes you would have liked to have been, making money, gaining power and prestige in the corporate/political/professional/social worlds.

And sorry, but I don't agree that it is solely an American flaw.

Then again, what would you replace focus on our horse hobby with? Football? /infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif Baseball? /infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif Any form of group ball-game? /infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif NASCAR racing? /infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif Button-collecting?

Most of the people I know who are involved with horses also have families, friends, community involvement of various kinds, other interests, etc. etc.

Maybe I'm lucky to be living in the boonies, away from the lure or even the possibility of the A circuit - but I don't see the problems you do.
Gosh, my culturally-deprived (unless you really like Travis Tritt et al.) milieu looks better than ever!
/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif

[This message was edited by Weatherford on May. 26, 2001 at 05:25 PM.]

May. 24, 2001, 06:11 PM
Waall- judge me as you will. I make a very succesful living entirely based on my people skills. And I am completely horse-crazy. Some of us are lucky enough to have a happy obsession. When my back was broken from a fall and I was told I might never walk normally again, and would never ride again, I felt like "just give me the gun and let me shoot myself now".
Happily, I walk pretty normally and ride not too bad. Most people who actually meet me in real life like me, and I like most people. If I didn't have the horse "hobby", I would rather say, "horse lifestyle", I would probably be far less happy and less able to cope with people's problems.
If you feel that horse people are more disordered/less people competent/etc than the general population, I feel a little sorry that is your experience. Some of the finest folks I ever met came to me on horseback. Some of the worst too. I choose to hang around with the finer ones and avoid the duds. Life is about choices. If you have bad feelings about the human race, you will probably see bad things even in good people (because they are there) and you will feel unhappy and cynical. If you choose to make the most out of all your exeriences, then even the bad ones will teach you something, and you will end up happier and hopeful.

A person's opinions about others often say more about the person opining than they do about the others! /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

B.G.M. heidi
May. 24, 2001, 06:18 PM
Yowser, Dr. Horsefeathers, you've revealed yourself as a Freudian - we hate most in others that which we detest in ourself.

You are, otherwise, even on the Freudian paraphrase, right. I think it was the damned smartest thing the old fart ever wrote.

May. 24, 2001, 06:59 PM
Great post, Dr. Horsefeathers. /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

May. 24, 2001, 08:30 PM
When I started in horses, I was very, very, shy .. I almost never talked. Over time, successes that I have achieved with my horses has given me self confidence that goes with me when I leave the barn. It has helped all aspects of my life.

And, I don't socialize with alot of non-horse people because they just don't get it !

So call me dysfunctional ! I don't care ! /infopop/emoticons/icon_cool.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

May. 25, 2001, 06:23 AM
I'm with Susie... I don't have many out of the workplace friends who don't do horses simply because they don't get it. I do have goals that take precedence over some other things. Call me dysfunctional if you want... I kinda like my life. /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

May. 25, 2001, 08:55 AM
Ole Siggy had a lot of good stuff to say, but he also had this little cocaine problem, and didn't ever understand women...

My favorite thing he said was in the first book he ever wrote, I think its called "A Project for a Scientific Psychology".(C'mon its been 20 years since I read it) It was written while he was still a student of neurology, around the turn of the last century. The whole book's premise is that all the psychological/social theories were good working models, but that eventually, we would find out that biology determines more of our feelings and behavior and the psychosocial stuff would have less importance. He said we just didn't have the technology at that time to be able to figure it out. With all the work today on genetics and neurochemistry, he is being proven right.

For the record, I was a biochemist first, and although I trained with several analysts, am not a freudian. Call me a "fusion" psychiatrist. /infopop/emoticons/icon_cool.gif

May. 25, 2001, 12:00 PM
After I got myself together from hysterically laughing!! Great topic!

OK playing by the rules:
__________________________________________________ __________________________________________________
Dysfunction is when people either lack healthy emotional skills, refuse to obey other people's boundaries, do not have boundaries of their own, and who shut other people out of their lives simply because they do not agree completely with other people's philosphies.
__________________________________________________ __________________________________________________

Lack emotional skills-well that would be most people I see on the circuit in the Adult divisions at least. Example: A/O rider's horse has lead swap on course. "Adult" leaves ring yanking like a pony kid (no offense pony riders) on said horse's mouth while SCREAMING to trainer-HE SWAPPED and YOU HAVE TO FFFFFIIIIIXXXX IT!

Hmmm hope she never faces a real tragedy in life.

How about the trainer that leaves the rail in a huff when adult rider misses a distance-or screams WHY did you move up to nothing?? Well gosh Ms Trainer-I guess I just love spending my hard earned money to intentionally piss you off-I love making a fool of myself and having you add to it!!! I love being yelled at by another adult-please more more!!

Refuse to obey other's boundaries: Whoa-let me aks you-if I came into YOUR home and said "OH MY how could you put that painting above that sofa-it looks perfectly AWFUL"-would you be offended?? I should think so.

However any given horseperson on any given day will gladly walk up and voice his/her opinion on the short comings of your recently purchased prospect, made horse, whatever. Amazing.

Do not have boundaries of their own-too many examples not enough time or space for this one.

Shut people out-how about hte trainer who for wahtever reason is no longer offering a prgram suitable for you. You have been at this barn your years, made friends, etc and leave as politely as possible-do ya think you will ever have diiner with these people again since you are no longer "at the barn"???

Now not all are this way but I think horse people are by far the most dysfunctional group of people I have ever met-nothing compares IMHO.

Ahh well can't change them so may as well make a case study out of them!!

Life is too short to dance with ugly men

Policy of Truth
May. 25, 2001, 09:10 PM
You are my hero of verbosity!

I have been trying to say exactly what you did for a few days now (didn't post b/c I'm coughing up a lung and possibly other bodily necessities /infopop/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif ).

I am so glad somebody understands me!

Question for Dr. Horsefeathers....I studied my first two internships under a psychiatrist. He strongly supports the Medical model, which I found very intriguing as well as helpful in working with clients. What other models do you use? I am a new graduate having recieved a Masters in counseling, and I want to get as many views as possible. Any help you can give would me would be more than appreciated. I'm eager to learn as much as possible. /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

I hope this topic reveals to everyone else what it has to me; We all have many experiences with horse-folk. Unfortunately, if those experiences were negative or uncomfortable, that will have an impact on our perspective. Maybe I've been "lucky" to have met some of the nastier people, I don't know. I do know there are some incredibly wonderful people in our world. My best friend being one of them...but she KNOWS she's a bit obsessed! But she respects my need for keeping the horses as a hobby, play-time and for companionship. I found that once I was able to establish my own boundaries, she began to not push me to do things I wasn't interested in doing. I also gained an appreciation for our friendship....that we can be open and candid with each other.

I still think some things, such as TheResonator pointed out, are weird and dysfunctional. Especially the issue of leaving a barn! You'd think you had sprayed them all with gas and lit a match leaving some barns! And some earlier threads will prove this!

As for another sport, I CAN say that no matter where a player (basketball) decides to go, my dad has always supported their decision (and if he didn't, he never made them feel unwelcome in our home/lives), and he respects a lot of other coaches VERY much...I KNOW he's the best, though!

My point is, I guess I just see some people in this great sport as being a bit dysfunctional, and though people may disagree, "that's my story and I'm sticking to it"! (can't recall newsperson who said this).

May. 25, 2001, 11:15 PM
"The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they're okay, then it's you."

Uh oh... /infopop/emoticons/icon_eek.gif

May. 26, 2001, 12:06 PM
This is not a great term- ask 4 doctors and get 5 answers kind of thing.

But I think it is a distinct advantage, if you are trying to help people, to have a wide knowledge of how people work- and this includes how their bodies work, what role inheritance plays, how we are affected by our nutrition, by drugs, by the weather, by other people, etc.
Medical doctors who become psychiatrists have this advantage over most other mental health professionals. Not meaning to be elitist, or snarky, but when you spend 8-12 years after your basic batchelor degree training, under supervision, with real patients, as psychiatrists do, you are bound to have more expertise and a greater understanding than someone who, after their batchelors, spent a couple more years in classrooms getting a masters and then finally spent a few years writing a book for their doctorate. I know some of these people have also had supervision and actual patient contact.(now donning the Nomex Suit!!!)But even the 2500 hours of supervised therapy demanded by most clinical psychologists' registries cannot compare to the 15,000-20,000 hours of direct supervision experienced in the 8-12 years of medical school and residency that a psychiatrist undergoes.
Which is not to say there aren't gifted therapists in other fields-there are. To drop a few names, I have trained with family therapists such as Virginia Satir and Carl Thom, also with the Milan group. With Milton Erickson, the hypnotist and his disciples. Spiritually with Mother Theresa and native healers. I respect all these teachers and more.
The medical model, in my mind, is an holistic one, perhaps the most holistic one, taking into account the physical, genetic, environmental, social, spiritual and intra-psychic factors that operate in each of our lives. We are not pill-pushers, although we are usually the only ones who have trained sufficiently to understand what pills can do.As a solo practitioner, I am often called upon, (and am trained) to work in an holistic way in areas of my patient's life that would be traditionally handled by a nurse, a social worker, a priest, a behavioral psychologist, an occupational therapist, or a family doctor. I can do all competently, if need be. I prefer to work as a team member so that some of these aspects can be handled by experts in their own corners. Psychiatrists excel at triage- sorting out what can be handled by those with different training and what needs to be addressed by psychiatric resources, what can wait, and what needs to be done STAT.
The medical model recognizes a heirarchy that assesses thoroughly based on a systematic approach, sorts problems according to urgency, and treats according to available and appropriate resources. When it works well, the doctor serves as both team member and leader and must be flexible enough to relinquish leadership when the team operates at its best. The team must also be willing to share responsibility, to work under leadership at times, and at others to work independantly to contribute to the overall treatment plan.

Things break down when doctors are too authoritarian, or when their leadership is not acknowledged, or when they are forced to take responsibility for the actions of other team members without having authority over those team members, or when the team's expertise is not recognized, etc.

It is a complex system and prone to breakdown, but when it works, there are few healing methods more powerful.

I think it is also important to look at the fact that the medical model has evolved significantly since the 1970's. There are still some docs around who trained before then and may not have had the experience I describe above. I trained in the 1980's, when the medical model had expanded to take advantage of the powers of groups of healers working together. Most shrinks training in North America today have the kind of holistic experience that I describe. I believe that shrinks' image continues to suffer from being an easily identified target- we are expensive to produce and in the past there have been tragic mistakes that still haunt us. Many are jealous of our hourly wage (please put it in perspectuve- the average shrink does not start earning until their early 30's and finishes school with $100,000 of debt- over a lifetime, in Canada, an RN will make more money total, than a psychiatrist).
We tend to be in the top 1 % of the population for IQ and in the extremes of any population you will find more variance or aberration among individuals. In my estimation, there are more pathological doctors than horse people. But because of their IQ's they may hide it better. Or not. We still have among the highest rates of substance abuse, marital breakdown and suicide of any occupational group.
FWIW I have met more *$$holes in hospitals than in dressage rings...

Policy of Truth
May. 26, 2001, 05:20 PM
Dr. Horsefeathers...you have been so kind to offer me so much information. I must admit you working with Virginia Satir made my heart jump, as she and her work have had an incredible impact on me both educationally as well as personally.

I wish I had a chance like that!

I agree that many people do not comprehend the amount of time and money it takes to become a psychiatrist. If they did, they may be more appreciative/less likely to complain.

The man I studied under made me really appreciate the team aspect of becoming a counselor. I have had two other supervisors since Dr. Shive, and the second wasn't worth her weight in nickel as a teacher/supervisor, and the third has been helpful, more-so by helping me to get over my personal fears of messing someone up, but none were comparable...what a great teacher...

I wish I had the guts and the mind to be able to go to med school for psychiatric medicine. It is facinating how much people like yourself can help clients when other therapeutic techniques aren't cutting it.

One thing I am fearful of, is in the US, the insurance companies are trying hard to give people like ME permission to prescribe meds! I do NOT have the training, and I refuse to do such a stupid thing without the expertise! It scares me because I have heard that it has support among the Social Workers. In the US, DSS has a lot more control over laws and insurance companies than LPCs do. Has anything like this been brought up in Canada?

BTW, are you familiar with Satir's PAIRS program?
My boyfriend and I have been through it, and we really learned a lot from the lectures and workshops. I enjoy reading any of her work.

And one last question..horse-related!
How would you handle a client who wants to leave his/her current barn, but knows that by the way things typically go in our sport, he/she will end up losing friends/making enemies? I am basing this upon previous experience plus a few threads that have dealt with this subject.

Again, thanks for listening to me and being so willing to answer my questions. It means a lot to me.

May. 26, 2001, 05:58 PM
*humbly curtseying (eek-spelling)* glad I could be of assistance /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

The true purpose of the law degree-verbosity. Thank goodness I learned something while I was there.

Besides I REALLY get a kick out of this post!

Life is too short to dance with ugly men

May. 27, 2001, 07:07 AM
Horses have taught me so much about life.
They've taught me patience and goals and
how to exercise patience to reach those

I think having horses has made me a
better person.I have a tendency to burn a
little too much between my ears. When I
get off my horse I feel so happy and at
peace with myself.I just love
horses.....they make me whole.

Dr.Horsefeathers horses must be the same
marvelous antidote to life and work for
you too! /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

May. 27, 2001, 07:45 AM
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
But there are lots of things people self prescribe. If I have to treat one more self-induced psychosis from St. John's Wort, or another antihistamine or Tylenol #1 addict, I'll have to have a drink /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif
In Canada, psychologists and nurses are lobbying for prescribing priveleges. These will probably be limited, like dentists here. But they will get them. My nurse practitioners are authorized to prescribe about a dozen reasonably safe meds and we haven't had a major problem. The problem is, if it goes wrong, I'm the one who "signs off" on the meds and will legally be held responsible. So I have the authority to refuse to sign off for someone I don't trust.

Virgina Satir:
She was a great friend of one of my teachers Maria Gomori, and so came several times during my training to do week long seminars at our medical school. A magician with families who could surround the most hurting people with her warmth and respect for their humanity. A witty and no-nonsense person whom I greatly admired. She died early from her addiction- she was a horrible chain smoker, had started in her early teens and died in her late 50's from throat cancer.
I have not done the pairs program. Truthfully I have not read many of her books, but learned a lot from being with her and with the families she was called upon to help.
We had one fabulous weekend in 1984 or 85 when Mother Theresa, Virginia and Eliz. Kubler Ross formed a panel on healing. A trio of angels.

An antidote to life? More like an essential component, like air or warmth. /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

May. 27, 2001, 08:11 AM
Sometimes I'm of the Monty Python school of psychiatry. When faced with horrible problems, if you can "Run away Run away".

Riding and the horse world are important parts of my life, but they are not all of life.

If your patient wants to leave a barn, of course there will be sorrow, lost relationships. Many people don't deal well with partings and need to denigrate the person leaving or the place being left, in order to separate. This happened to me, when I left the barn of a dear friend because her ring was flooding and there was no place to school for several months. Altho I was clear it was only that reason,(the care was excellent and the people were not hard to deal with, but I had a show season to get ready for) she accused me of being a rat leaving a sinking ship and basically chased me out of the barn on my last day. I had to separate that stress related behavior from the person I liked, and we eventually renewed our friendship. She came to "forgive" me for leaving. I shrug. The friendship is worth more.

So have your patient understand that some folks may be difficult, but for her to be clear and simple about the reasons for leaving, to remain calm herself, and to give it time for the relationships to sort out. She may find herself repeating herself about her reasons. In fact it helps to write out a little speech to give when someone asks, or when someone gets off track and accuses her of other reasons. The "broken record" technique. The speech can contain one or two non-emotional reasons for leaving, and also several good things about the place being left:

ex. 1:
"I really want to work with X trainer at Z barn. I like it here- the people are great and the barn is always so clean, but I need to do this for my own progress right now. I hope we can stay in touch!"

ex. 2:
"I know my horse needs some special care and I really can't expect Owner A to do this for me. I'm moving to a place where Owner B is set up for my horse's needs. I'm really going to miss the folks here, though"

You know, in life we are lucky to have a few good friends. The rest are pleasant aquaintances who come and go.

If your patient had friends at her last barn, she will make new ones at the next place.

The most important job of a counsellor is the instillation of hope. Most folks can take it from there if you can only help them keep going.

I was tremendously validated last night at a dinner with my parents. My father, who has been chronically physically ill all his life, defended me against a man who stated bluntly: "Counselling is such B*llshit. Its just talktalktalk". Dad spoke with great candour about how if it hadn't been for his psychiatrist, he would not have made it through several tough years. Somehow he regained the hope that there were still worthwhile things in life and that he was still a contributing member, no matter how crippled or dependant on others he became.


Now I'm going riding. The horses have had enough time to digest their morning grain. Cheerio!