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  1. #1
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    Aug. 2, 2001
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    Default Reflections on "Time" spent with your horses.

    Well, this revelation has been some time coming.

    A little over a year ago I moved to a 52 acre farm in VA, shared with my trainer and her SO (2 houses on the property.)

    So, tra-la-la-la-la-la. I do my thing: go to work, come home, sleep, go to work. When I come home, I have chores to do, feed, muck, clean. All of you who have your horses at home know "of what I speak".

    Life goes on,...and on...and on. And I notice something. My trainer knows my horses better than I do. My horses respond to her, better than they do for me. Wait. She really *KNOWS* them better than I do!

    Well, I suppose that's not really a big DUH ... she's spending all day with them. But then I start to really think about it, and things start to fall into place. It's spending TIME with them that counts...just like it counts when parents spend time with their children. Not only do you get to know them, but they get to know you. And that, I believe, is where the trust comes from.

    Horses are not just — some sort of eating machine without thoughts, feelings and needs. Temple Grandin made this point when she said (paraphrase) that they have the same biology as we, why wouldn't they? I think we can allpoint to our own horses and speak about personality, characteristics,...maybe behaviour that seems more...human than horse.

    Anyway, just seem to be thinking about this stuff ... and I've decided to make TIME for my critters. I can't spend all day with them, but I CAN spend one hour of "quality time" with one of them every day.

    What are your thoughts? Have you come to the same conclusion? Or is this just another goofy idea by some whacked-out horse chick.
    "For God hates utterly
    The bray of bragging tongues."
    Sophocles, Antigone Spoken by the Leader of the Chorus of Theban Elders



  2. #2
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    I first noticed this when people would chide me for spending too long grooming & tacking up/untacking. I didn't like being hurried, but learned over the years, for different situations, to be quick. It really came to a head when I worked as a groom/WS - it was difficult to feel a connection to any of the horses because everything had to be done so quickly and efficiently in a busy professional operation. After that I appreciated WHY I liked the quiet grooming time before and after so much.

    I think there is a similar thing in eventing with regards to the old "long" format vs. today's "short" format. When you spent so many hours in the saddle conditioning, and so many out of it making sure your horse was comfortable and in tip-top shape, it really added to your partnership. With the short format, I feel that people spend more time schooling and perfecting, which has a more disciplined feel rather than companionship/partnership.
    Blugal

    You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng



  3. #3
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    Dec. 2, 2004
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    Yes it is true. Time is one of those essential qualities that we are losing in this world today. That and the patience that comes with time -- why grandparents used to take the kids out fishing.

    Think about time lapse photography and that as an instant gratification. There is a huge loss of the patience and frame of time that it took to capture the subject.

    I rode alot when I was younger, I was always out at the barn as much as I could be. But I never really did come to know any of my horses the way that I do now until we brought them home and have now had them in our backyard for the past 28 yrs. My girls got to grow up with them here.

    Whenever we got a new horse and did the first real turnout together with the herd - we always took the time to sit and watch - for hours, me and two little girls would sit on our butts on the hillside .... and wait. The herd dynamics are amazing. And if you are not there -- you will miss it.

    A friend who just got into horses for herself and her daughters, they rent a small place for themselves and another family (up to 5 horses now), she is amazed at how much they have learned with the self care. She always envied my ability to read a horse's character and now she has found that for herself and she is always exclaiming the wow factor about how much she can 'see' now. And that alone can take horse shopping to a whole other level now. In the past they would fall in love right away just b/c it was a horse standing there. Now she knows what she definitely does and doesn't want and she is very clear about what a good-minded horse is! And she has grasped what she may be able to work with or change and then the intrinistic things about some horse's natures that you can't change.

    Myself, my biggest joy is just the moving around them -- the familiarity that comes from them knowing me and visa versa. The way they greet me and look to me and ask for my attention. The little likes and dislikes, just knowing them that way. There are shared intimacies. And how much they enjoy knowing us that way too! My 2 yr old gelding his barn name is Junior b/c when he was little and I was working in the stall he would try to get into my lap all the time and I would be telling him 'move o-v-e-r junior!' My farrier asked - you really do call him that, in front of him? But, yes the name will always remind me of that little guy who wanted to connect so badly. Junior got big and grown up but he'll always be that colt to me. And he still wants to be my big puppy.

    When I have just started working with some new kids, the first thing I always do is ask them is to tell me things about their horses. It starts the exchanges of conversation and makes the kids speak up, it makes them think about their horses as the individuals that they are.

    I dread the tacked up horse that is presented to the lesson rider. We all know what that really is.

    And isn't the beauty of horses sometimes just the looking at them! Gazing upon them.

    Yes, enjoy your discovery and the pleasures that you will now experience. Your life will be richer for it. Ahhh... the wisdom that starts to come as we grow older. I have tried to teach some children some of those thoughts now so that their lives will be full from the start.
    Last edited by pony grandma; Oct. 25, 2008 at 05:21 PM. Reason: add ---- Blugal -- so true!!
    About the only time losing is more fun than winning is when you're fighting temptation.
    -- Tom Wilson, actor & comedian



  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blugal View Post
    I first noticed this when people would chide me for spending too long grooming & tacking up/untacking.

    When you spent so many hours in the saddle conditioning, and so many out of it making sure your horse was comfortable and in tip-top shape, it really added to your partnership.
    As this if from one of the few posters that can correctly use the word Chide in a sentence, as well as SPELL it correctly , I think you may have hit upon the perfect word to describe what I mean: partnership. That word suggests a relationship of equals, which for some will be an open and shut door: "Equals? I don't think so ..."

    Just because we are more intelligent, does that necessarily mean we are NOT equals? I can't run as fast ... or hear as well. Does that make the horse superior?

    Ah, mental gyrations on a rainy day in VA...
    Last edited by Oldenburg Mom; Oct. 25, 2008 at 11:07 AM.
    "For God hates utterly
    The bray of bragging tongues."
    Sophocles, Antigone Spoken by the Leader of the Chorus of Theban Elders



  5. #5
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    Dec. 4, 2002
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    In total agreement. This is how I can tell immediately as Ted is winding his way to me down the pasture from the run-in if there's an issue. Lost shoe, stone bruise, small ouchie. I understand when he wants water, wants a treat, wants to go outside by the pond and graze, where the itch is he needs to have scratched.

    Of course, this only comes with time. I am always surprised at people that tend to trade horses after a few years, because I am not sure if they ever enjoy the richness of a relationship that grows this way.
    www.specialhorses.org
    a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues




  6. #6
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    Dec. 2, 2004
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    Reading eveyone's words. yes. I am very proud that my daughter can walk up to a horse and immediately know that something is wrong. Just the expression of the horse, the body posture, a look, a single movement and she knows to look further.

    It's the old-fashioned horsemanship! And you begin to be able to quickly recognize that in your peers too. I try to tell kids, esp with the laughable local 4-H judging, that they should ride for that one true horseman on the rail who will see them and know, that it may be the day that it is not their judge. And one day that someone will (and should!) step forward and tell them that they saw their ride and their partnership with their horse. So all of you - get out there and do that for a kid someday.

    My daughter has gotten jobs at some barns, teaching and riding horses in for training, doing turnouts, working with all breeds, stallions, and youngsters of all persuasions - she got the jobs and received praise all on her own merits (not b/c she was my daughter) and the praise has come from some top horsemen (horsewomen). I told her that her day would come. And her knowledge came from our backyard and her time spent learning who her horses were. It is the real knowledge.
    About the only time losing is more fun than winning is when you're fighting temptation.
    -- Tom Wilson, actor & comedian



  7. #7
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    That is PRECISELY why I will not EVER have a groom, even if I find out that I am some kind of long lost rich princess> (One can dream, right?) I am usually at the barn for no less than 3 hours a day. More if I can get away with it.
    ~Amy~ TrakehNERD clique
    *Bugs 5/86-3/10 OTTB Mare* RIP lovely Lady, I miss you
    *Frodo '03 Anglo Trakehner Gelding*
    My Facebook



  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by pony grandma View Post
    And her knowledge came from our backyard and her time spent learning who her horses were. It is the real knowledge.
    Wow, this is great! It is so true ... so very very true. I've got goosebumps. This is the stuff I'm talking about. AND, the only way to grasp this knowledge is trime, time, time.

    I recall from Gone with the Wind, the clock at 12 Oaks: Do not squander Time, it is the stuff life is made of. But the camera missed the last part of the sentence ... especially when it come to knowing horses!

    Very thought-provoking, PG.
    "For God hates utterly
    The bray of bragging tongues."
    Sophocles, Antigone Spoken by the Leader of the Chorus of Theban Elders



  9. #9
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    Jun. 29, 2005
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    So very true.

    A Moment of Silence
    Training and campaigning Barb endurance horses at The Barb Wire.



  10. #10
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    Apr. 13, 2007
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    North San Diego County, CA
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    I moved to a new boarding barn and they keep the stalls spotless. I miss mucking. I realize that me futzing around the stall while she munched on hay was very relaxing. I need to find a replacement activity that is "just hanging out" -- not me riding, not her having to "do" something. Hand grazing fits in there, but that tethers us both together.

    The turn-outs at the new barn are not near any barn activity. It's like being in Siberia and I can't do any tack cleaning while she wanders around, so that option isn't quite the solution either.

    I might be leaning towards getting a chair and reading with her.



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3Spots View Post
    I might be leaning towards getting a chair and reading with her.
    I used to do that with Bugs!
    ~Amy~ TrakehNERD clique
    *Bugs 5/86-3/10 OTTB Mare* RIP lovely Lady, I miss you
    *Frodo '03 Anglo Trakehner Gelding*
    My Facebook



  12. #12
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    Apr. 8, 2007
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    That really helped me when I was a 13 year old kid with her big green OTTB

    I just put so much time into him that over the years we developed a great relationship. Sometimes, at the end of a long evening at the barn, I'd slide his stall door open a little and sit on the threshold leaning against the wall while he munched his hay. He'd come over and say hi every few minutes, poke at my hair with his nose to see if there was anything good in there, then head back to his hay.

    It's a peaceful thing, just spending time with horses and watching them.



  13. #13
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    Aug. 30, 2007
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    Honestly, I spend more time on the ground playing with my mare than I do in the saddle. Grooming, giving her snacks, strolling out on the trails with her in-hand, grazing her, etc. Riding is NOT why I'm in horses. It's the horses themselves, I love being around them. If I could never ride again.. honestly, I wouldn't be that upset. As long as I can still brush my mare and feed her things she likes I'm happy.
    Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!



  14. #14
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    Jun. 25, 2007
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    I bought my first horse a year ago (as an adult "re-rider"). He is older and my trainer eval'd him for me. After riding him several times, discovering he had a minor navicular change, and realizing he needed some real groceries, hoof care, etc....I was really overwhelmed and on the fence about buying him. Yet I felt connected to him in some way - we just clicked. (he was not the first horse I saw or tried!!) My trainer had a great question - she said, "Let's say he gets injured and you can't ride for months. Would you still be as excited to just go and visit him? Spend time with him?" My answer was absolutely, yes. And her answer was, "Then he is the right horse." And he WAS the right horse.

    The days I don't ride, I am just as happy to spend time with him - feeding him, grooming, treats or just simply watching him graze. I am lucky enough to see him almost daily, and we are so bonded - that has truly been the BEST part of owning. Today I went to see him and he cantered from the far side of the field to me when he heard my voice and saw me. That's what it's all about for me. I enjoy riding and improving my skills, but any time I spend with him is what brings me joy, and I have to think joy for him too



  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by tpup View Post
    My trainer had a great question - she said, "Let's say he gets injured and you can't ride for months. Would you still be as excited to just go and visit him? Spend time with him?" My answer was absolutely, yes. And her answer was, "Then he is the right horse."
    What a great trainer you have...that's one for the record books. A lot of trainers, naming no names of course, care exclusively about the $$$s. If your horse DID have an injury and you couldn't ride him for months, it would mean no lessons from you ... a big hit in her pocketbook. It's a tough life for trainers, so I don't begrudge them their focus on $$$s, most of the time. But this... I hope she's VERY successful.

    He'd come over and say hi every few minutes, poke at my hair with his nose to see if there was anything good in there, then head back to his hay.
    Awww, that's great. I'll have to remember that one.

    Tonight is the first evening of my new routine, to spend more time with each one. I hope it goes well.
    "For God hates utterly
    The bray of bragging tongues."
    Sophocles, Antigone Spoken by the Leader of the Chorus of Theban Elders



  16. #16
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    There's a saying that goes "Allah does not deduct from the alotted time of man those hours spent with horses".
    “There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt.”
    John Adams



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank B View Post
    There's a saying that goes "Allah does not deduct from the alotted time of man those hours spent with horses".
    Good gracious. I'm going to live FOREVER!!!
    Training and campaigning Barb endurance horses at The Barb Wire.



  18. #18
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    OM: how many horses do you help care for?
    I ask because - if the number isn't too overwhelming - you ARE spending time with your horses.
    Never think they don't realize it is you cleaning their stalls, refilling their buckets, doing whatever for them.

    I have just my 2 at home, but sometimes my day exhausts me to the point that all I have left for them is a flake of hay, a full grain pan and a quick pat after mucking their stalls and doing whatever else needs to be done in the barn.
    Yet I still feel I'm relating to them - I notice Vern isn't thrilled with his flake of hay, or that Cash is taking a bit long to finish his grain. And the heads still poke out for me to pat a nose or rub a forehead. They know I'm there, I know it too.
    And I am still able, even on one of those days, to notice if one isn't 100%.
    I don't think it's so much the total hours spent, but being there mentally for the give & take of your relationship to them.

    The Quality Time may be more important to you. And if so, can you take a few minutes to just spend with them when chores are done?
    Nothing is more restful for me than to sit - barncat in lap - listening to my boys munch hay.
    *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
    Steppin' Out 1988-2004
    Hey Vern! 1982-2009
    Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009



  19. #19
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    My gelding tore his right hind suspensory in March. In the year or so I had him prior to that, I rode four days a week and was in the barn daily, if for nothing else than to feed him a few treats and pat him on the neck, or scratch him in his favorite itchy spot. Post-injury, I was there daily, poulticing, wrapping, cold-hosing, then hand-grazing, then walking under saddle, and finally a little trotting. I was there every single day. In those 7 months, not a moment was wasted time. He enjoyed the attention, and I was repaid with affection.

    My gelding died suddenly this weekend. Friday night he was fine when I put him to bed, Saturday morning he was gone. And I am ever-so-glad that I had all those hours with him this summer.

    When you spend the time, there is an element to the relationship that cannot be achieved any other way. A familiarity, a level of trust, a level of comfort, a friendship...



  20. #20
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    Even on non-riding days I go to the barn and set my folding chair up outside my horses stall. Sometimes I read while she hangs her head over me, sometimes I just daydream or talk to her. She often will nap standing right over me, and occasionally licks me. She has transformed in four years from a horse who wouldn't let anyone walk into her stall, would threaten to kick, bite and in general act like a monster, to a total sweetheart (with me anyway!). It has all been a function of time invested and consistent behavior on my part. For me half the joy of riding comes from the close relationship I have with my horse.



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