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Human Failings

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  • Human Failings

    Horse education, training and fitness
    Firstly, I am an amateur. However, I do 98 percent of my own riding of my young horses. I have brought 3 along to educated solid citizens and am in the process of bringing along 2 more. It is baffling how many “horse people” have zero understanding of the process that goes into the foundations of proper education for a young horse. The fact that training occurs, for good or bad, with every single interaction. The need for consistency, fairness and a slow building of strength and fitness so the horse is never physically overfaced. The years it truly takes to make a solid animal, and the need for reinforcement after that. The concept that the animal is an athlete and an individual and requires the same training program, physical therapy and relaxation that any athlete would require in order to be successful. Many pros know this and that is why so many horses are in training programs with pros—they get pro rides at home, pro prep at shows. What baffles me is that so
    many of the everyday riders who show really have little understanding of all the work, time and effort it takes to make a successful performance animal. They push the pros to rush for ribbons, which results in gadgets and over prepped and unhappy animals. They take no pride in understanding horse psychology or physiology, and ride sporadically with no thought to the physical therapy of the animal. It is frustrating to me, as so often then the horses are blamed for our human failing of them, either in education or physical preparation. So, in summary, let’s be fair to our equine friends. If you are a timid mediocre rider who wants to ride once a week, don’t ask for your horse to be drugged for you. Get a suitable animal who is older and laid back and don’t expect the fancy win at 3 feet. If you get a baby, be prepared to have it in pro training for as long as it takes, and again, don’t ask for it to be prepped half dead for you to ride it. If you want to show, make sure your horse is fit enough and strong enough to do what is expected of it. Don’t expect to compete when the horse only gets a ride a week. Pick a job for the horse he wants to succeed at. We owe it to these noble animals to set them up for success. They will reward us by trying their hearts out.

  • #2
    Unfortunately, you are most likely, I hope, preaching to choir.
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

    Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


    • #3
      Not everybody wants to learn these things though, just want to ride and a good many do want to learn all they can, just not interested in starting and bringing one along or afford to carry one while it developed with board probably triple what it was even 25 years ago.

      These days, don’t know where they would even go to observe and learn even if they did want to. Back in the day, most trainers started colts and brought youngsters along. Today there are far fewer barns and they operate on less land that’s more expensive to operate on meaning more clients using higher cost services like lessons and shows. Most trainers don’t have space, time or money to carry non income producing clients, human or Equine.

      Sadly, the generation of trainers with the knowledge of starting and early development are retiring or git hurt or burned out awhile ago so we got a whole new generation of trainers who don’t know how and don’t want to waste time on colts or young projects.

      Yes, you are preaching mostly to the choir but there is no easy solution here. And we do have an instant gratification expectation in really spoiled teens and young adults, But not all of them, and it’s too broad a generalization to pin lack of education in starting colts and developing youngsters on.

      Me, I know how. Did 4 of them over the years. First one was my first owned horse and a rather spectacular flop. Learned I didn’t even know what I didn’t know and had no business breaking this colt. The others in later years I did very well with...but really was not my cup of tea. Just didn’t like it as much as taking a 6-8 year old stinker that ...underperformed...for past owners. The cagier and smarter the better I liked them. Like really getting into their heads to identify the problems and negotiate a settlement. That’s my wheelhouse. On the other hand, people who love starting and developing younger horses HATE working with those I love working with even though they know how.

      To each his own.

      On thinking about this, think if you want to learn to break and develop colts, you can either get a job on a Ranch or a breeding farm or in the race industry. Simply not available in the vast majority of urban or suburban lesson, training or boarding barns. Used to always be colts around any of these barns and you watched how they were brought along, maybe handle them on the ground bringing in and out, maybe ride a little after they had a couple of weeks under saddle. You watched, you listened, you absorbed, you saw how long the process is. Most of today’s trainers do not take unstarted colts at all ...making the term “trainer” a bit of an oxymoron.

      Today there are colt starting specialists but in a different barn, today’s riders aren’t in the middle of the process every time they are at the barn so don’t get that exposure so they can absorb the process. I don’t know how you fix that. It’s not the trainers fault if they never were exposed to starting and developing colts. Fact it’s a wise choice not to do it if they know it’s not in their skill set.

      There are two very well respected colt starters around here, both retired jockeys. They don’t teach or anything, don’t advertise, they start colts and put 60-90 days on them. Waiting list and are selective in what they take on.
      When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


      • Original Poster

        I completely understand those who have no desire to start their own, or want to ride for fun, or do not want to push themselves even to learn more or be better. What DOES bother me is the horses who suffer because of someone who did not help keep them physically or mentally capable of the job asked, or the horses who are blamed because of the owner failing to recognize a training hole or physical problem. It is so easy to see a good horse going perfectly for a capable rider but when the horse does not go perfectly because the rider is either less capable or the program is not appropriate for the animal the horse gets a bad rap. I have had stumbling blocks with my youngsters. But I have never claimed they were the horse inherently. Patience, proper guidance and the classical dressage foundations that we often forget are so important go a long way towards many cures.


        • #5
          I'm curious, OP. What is the point of your posts? What do you hope to accomplish with your manifesto? I ask because I'm pretty sure that, as merrygoround noted, here on this forum, you're preaching to the choir. You're not likely to find anyone here who disagrees with you and you will also find lots of previous discussions that cover the same territory.

          I'll also note that in these posts you're coming across all "holier than thou," as if you assume that the rest of us are all out there bumbling along in our ignorance of the proper way to handle and train horses.
          "Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything
          that's even remotely true."

          Homer Simpson


          • Original Poster

            If it is the choir, that is wonderful. I suppose I have seen so very many instances of humans failing horses in my lifetime with them that if even one person thinks twice about an educational solution to a problem or looking for a suitable animal for their level of riding or goals then the post will be worthwhile. I am certainly not without mistake or errors of ignorance myself, but every single animal I have ever encountered taught me new perspectives. However, the one theme that strings them all together regardless of differences in ability, temperament or training is how important it is to see the cause and effect of our interaction with them. This is emphasized in their physical and mental formative years. Even within my own limited abilities I have realized the need to learn more, ride more effectively, pay more attention to the whole picture in order to facilitate the best relationship possible. How many good horses may be damaged or discarded because of our failing them? I agree many posts here have dealt with specifics, but the big picture can involve any horse, at possibly any time. Perhaps even though many people do not wish to start their own, the more awareness we all have regarding the critical nature and length of equine education and physical development to our relationships with them the better off some animals will be. That is my only hope.


            • #7
              Why not post your thoughts on boards or sites more frequented by novices and these you feel are misdirected. Maybe you can influence their thoughts in a positive way instead of thumping a well beaten tub over here?

              It also comes off as another “why is everybody else wrong but me?” thread not offering any solutions or even clearly defining any problem that can be solved. It echoes many similar works lamenting the sad state of affairs and why newer entrants are incompetent dating back to invention of the printing press. Likely written on papyrus scrolls before that.

              Try narrowing the definition of a specific problem and proposing a specific solution instead of complaint others are not up to your standards. Intended or not, that’s how this comes off and it will make the “ offenders” defensive instead of sending them to seek help or rearranging their thinking.

              When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

              The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


              • #8
                These posts are like Chapter One: A Philosophy of Training.
                A helmet saved my life.

                2017 goal: learn to ride like TheHorseProblem, er, a barn rat!


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Trekkie View Post
                  If it is the choir, that is wonderful.
                  It's interesting that you've been reading COTH for at least 2.5 years and feel like that isn't a given.

                  Simply scrolling any of the sub-forums reveals a lot of consistent themes that have been echoed for well over a decade on here:
                  1. Horses are big, powerful, and awe-inspiring creatures
                  2. Horses deserve to be respected for this power
                  3. When a horse seems to be disobedient it is likely fear, pain, confusion or a combination of the three
                  4. Don't come on here and say your horse is an @$$ without expecting to get your butt handed to you
                  5. Have a learners mentality and always be open to looking at things from a new perspective
                  6. When in doubt - saddle fit, ulcers, dental issues, KS, neuro/lyme, x ray the feet, evaluate the diet, and consider whether you need outside help

                  Welcome to the choir.