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Upset by what I saw, am I being over-sensitive?

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  • Upset by what I saw, am I being over-sensitive?

    This forum is good for brutal truth so let me have it im being a baby.

    This weekend my work hosted a clinic by a "natural horsemanship trainer". This is the second year in a row. Last year I was angry about what I saw but was convinced by co-workers that this was acceptable. It never sat exactly right with me but I didnt fight it. This year i was not looking forward to it. Please realize this is my job and these horses dont belong to me.

    The first day started out bad. I pulled out my horse that Ive been working with for several months. A very hot reactive TB whose defense mode is easily triggered. When he first came in he was unruly and dangerous to handle. He's now sweet and he tries. Ive made it my goal to ensure his training sessions are calm and he maintains a good demeanor. I was working with him on backing out of my space and yielding his shoulders. He was doing so calmly. I was just going to allow him to lunge around me and move his feet as a reward. The "trainer" assumed I was walking to his hip to move his shoulder and took him from me. Within 30 seconds my calm horse is now high headed because the first thing he did was stick a flag in his face. He then has him moving around and jumping around to move his shoulders. so natuarally the horse is like im out of here and tried to leave. The trainer cracked him square in the nose with the stick. A loud crack was herd and the trainer says "did you all see him run into my stick?" At that point I am done. I quit this is bs to me.

    So day two I am not participating. I watch a little because its my job and i dont want it to effect mh position. Foot roping. Sure, it can be benefical when done right. Move through the normal give to pressure and started wrapping a front leg up and asking the horse to move. A horse who has space issues, btw. So they have his inside leg tied up and they want him to move. "Trainer" encourages horse forward who is barely balancing, and as horse tries to come toward handler "trainer" encourages handler to hit horse in the face with a stick to keep him out. I left.

    Day 3. I refused to participate, left for the day and wrote a letter to my boss, my boss's boss, and her boss about my concerns that this is abusive training. I get a text from a coworker saying how well the TB was doing that day with the "trainer." But do results validate this type of treatment?

    Am I being over sensitive?

  • #2
    Hard to know without knowing the horse and exactly what went on there and also after you left. I don’t know if what you describe crosses the line into abuse or not and maybe your TB needed to be pushed more then you prefer, your friend said it was better by the end so maybe he needed a little push to be more accepting. Or not, wasn’t there, didnt see, don’t know you or the horse. Maybe s/he cracked the horse in the nose too hard, maybe you are a little over reactive to a strong, instant well deserved correction delivered in a fashion that the horse doesn’t realize came from the trainer but thinks they did it to themselves.. Don’t know. If trainer had repeated the action more then once in succession or waved the thing in the horses face to threaten and scare it, that would be inappropriate.

    If you don’t care for a trainer or their methods, just don’t pay them to work with you or your horse. Don’t know that calling everybody to complain about abuse it appears others did not see as abuse accomplishes anything. Take a deep breath and don’t go to or watch any more of this persons clinics if you don’t care for their methods.

    I take it you don’t own or manage the horse here and the owner did not object? And had to attend the clinic despite not liking it last year? If you disagree about this, perhaps it’s time to seek another situation that uses methods you agree with?

    Mind you, seen some hellacious quackery and borderline abuse under the NH banner. Also seen some good, no nonsense horse handling that requires proper response from the horse or they get instantly corrected as another horse would correct them. Just no way to know which this was.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Unfortunately it was not just once. Last year ge hit a horse in the nose so many times and so hard it gave her a nose bleed. And she wasnt being bad. Shes pushy and steps into your space but shes not aggressive or dangerous by any means

      Just dont see any cause to hit a horse in the face, and especially not repeatidly. The horse whose leg was tied was a 10 minute session i would bet he was hit in the face at least 20 times.

      I love my job,except for this weekend. Its not a training barn, these are all abused and neglected horses who live here the rest of their lives. I guess i needed more detail but I didnt want to write a novel

      Comment


      • #4
        OK, it sounds like it was abusive last year and this year. Your choice to continue at this place or not if they think it’s OK. They aren’t going to change things they, apparently, are fine with, fact seems like they adore this person. I ran into stuff like this several times in 50 years of boarding out. always left those places Like I said, they aren’t going to change..but you can.

        Its tough if you depend on horses you don’t own for rides with no say in management. But continuing with them just allows them to continue as they have been. Easy to get sucked in to liking what you are told to like but it’s a case of the emperor has no clothes but nobody wants to call it what it is. You spoke out and if nothing changes and you get told it was alright,, need to seek better horse folk.
        When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

        The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

        Comment


        • #5
          So is this a sanctuary that permanently takes in neglected horses and then has a NH trainer come in annually to do ground work? Is any work done in between?

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by GraceLikeRain View Post
            So is this a sanctuary that permanently takes in neglected horses and then has a NH trainer come in annually to do ground work? Is any work done in between?
            Very minimal. Basic ground work to those who are halter broke, enough to stand for vaccinations and farrier work. No horses are ever ridden.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by findeight View Post
              OK, it sounds like it was abusive last year and this year. Your choice to continue at this place or not if they think it’s OK. They aren’t going to change things they, apparently, are fine with, fact seems like they adore this person. I ran into stuff like this several times in 50 years of boarding out. always left those places Like I said, they aren’t going to change..but you can.

              Its tough if you depend on horses you don’t own for rides with no say in management. But continuing with them just allows them to continue as they have been. Easy to get sucked in to liking what you are told to like but it’s a case of the emperor has no clothes but nobody wants to call it what it is. You spoke out and if nothing changes and you get told it was alright,, need to seek better horse folk.
              Sadly I think you're right. If nothing changes I can't stay. I love the animals and what we do but this training program is not okay by me. Training we need, abuse we do not.

              Comment


              • #8
                Sadly it sounds like 2 things are going on here. Sounds like you have feral horses forced to being worked with someone who may or may not realize these horses are not handled that much, and then when the NH trainer gets them into submitting, no one touches them regularly unless the vet or farrier needs to come. I have no experience with rescue sanctuaries so I'm sure there are far more horses than there is staff to handle them much.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I agree with you that no one should be striking a horse in the face with a stick and drawing blood.

                  I think you should document this in writing, stating dispassionately that during a training session by XX trainer you saw him strike horse YY on the head several times to the point of drawing blood. Be concise but specific; describe the stick, name the horse, state the date and approximate time it occurred and who else you noticed who was present and what they said or did about the blood/injury (did someone clean off the blood or treat the wound at the time or later?) If you can remember how many times he hit the horse's head, say that as well, or give an approximation. Details will augment your version if anyone denies it. State that this trainer has continued this behavior of hitting horses in the face with a stick and state the dates you observed it. Make sure it is clear that the horse was hit with a stick and that it was hit repeatedly ("at least ____ times in a short succession"); when I read your account it sounded like the horse was being touched/hit with a flag and that is a whole different matter (although drawing blood is not).

                  List each case of abuse and send a copy to the management and animal control. If it is a 501(c) non-profit, there will be a board of directors; send a notice to each of them as well. It's probable that nothing will come of this but it is a step in establishing a pattern and proof that the powers that be were notified.

                  If you want to keep your job, don't send a copy to animal control and make sure that the letter starts with a description of what the horse rescue does well and what you admire about the place, giving specific examples. Say something like, "I have hesitated addressing this issue because I do not want to paint a black mark on an otherwise wonderful organization, but I feel it is important to address problems and try to fix them so that Jane Doe Horse Rescue remains the steller organization that does so much good." Also, communicate the importances of appearances and that any training method which draws blood on an animal just looks bad to the public and to the donors. Use the term "we" when discussing desired changes. Emphasize that you want the rescue to be a success and you want to be a team player, criticizing from within to make things better.

                  You still might get fired.
                  "Random capitAlization really Makes my day." -- AndNirina

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I might have missed this, but is the TB yours? IF so, I would have pulled him immediately or faster from this "trainer."
                    You don't treat horses in the manner you are describing. And tying up feet? I haven't heard of that in years and the last time I saw it done was by a supposed NH trainer that was highly suspect. It's used to establish domination over the horse by force. I always find that folk who want to "dominate" and especially by force are usually pretty insecure about their abilities and I would not trust a horse of mine to them with a gun to my head.

                    If not - then it is up to the owners - and if that is the barn, then sadly, they get the say in what happens. Even if you don't agree with it and you think it is wrong. Everyone has given you great advice on how to handle this. All I would add is that if you disagree with their policies - then find another job. By staying you tacitly agree with their ideas. I hope you get to choose whether you leave under your own power or theirs. Good luck.
                    "Cats aren't clean; they're covered with cat spit."
                    - John S Nichols (1745-1846,writer/printer)

                    Don't come for me - I didn't send for you.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I was brought up and taught from a very young age to never, ever hit a horse in the face, to never yank on the reins with a bit in their mouth and not to yank on a horse with a chain across it's nose. So watching a horse be hit in the face with what I'm guessing is a fiberglass pole with a flag on it would have mortified me. So I do not think you over reacted - especially since these are rescue horses in a sanctuary. That just makes it more horrific in my mind.

                      I left a private barn once because (among other things) the former owner/breeder of my horse wanted me to yank with full force on a leather lead with a chain wrapped around my horses whole nose to show him who was boss. When I objected to anything she said I "had" to do, she just kept telling me that she had two equine degrees from UT and she knew more than I did. I feel badly that I didn't leave sooner than I did, because no manner of logic or my 30+ years of horse experience was going to make her see that her methods were just wrong or make the situation any better.

                      I wish you luck in your situation. Thank you for working with theses horses with no home.
                      ~~ How do you catch a loose horse? Make a noise like a carrot! - British Cavalry joke ~~

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        It sounds like this facility has gone beyond scraping the bottom of the barrel to find a trainer and has settled on a fraud.

                        You're not being over sensitive and are doing the right thing by documenting and reporting back to the different layers of officialdom. I like findeight's example of the emperor has no clothes.

                        Absolutely do give your bosses a different perspective to chew on. Even if you don't see immediate changes, hopefully they'll mull on it.

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Thank you all for your input. I am still so angry and upset but I firmly believe I am doing the right thing by the horses. I just hope i get a chance to do more.

                          It saddens me to think that the 20+ participants that were here are going home to treat their own rescue horses this way

                          If it were my personal horse I would have absolutely yanked him out! When i got home i went straight to my own boys and just hugged them they will never be treated that way!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            "Natural horsemanship" is an oxymoron, like "jumbo shrimp." From the horse's point of view allowing a member of the World's Most Successful Predator Species to enter and control their world is wildly BAD idea.

                            I've been around long enough to remember the early days of Monty Roberts, the emergence of the Parellites, and now the Flag Waivers. There is nothing wrong using a round pen, body language, and longe whip to work a horse on the ground. But anything used can be abused. Indeed, the stock in trade of many of this ilk is their own form of abusive behavior. Or, at the opposite end of the spectrum, wildly complex and confusing movements and language for which you pay a lot of money to learn that, at the end of the day, won't work. Leaving the owner with an untrained horse that is sour on humans and maybe even has learned to disrespect humans making them very dangerous.

                            Walk away and find another venue more realistic in their approach to things. Ignore the taunts and insults they'll send your way.

                            Is this all part of some "rescue" program? If so then that's even worse 'cause rescue horses will almost always come with a bunch of baggage to start with. Use these idiotic "natural" systems on them and all you do is feed the kill pens that will ultimately receive them.

                            G.
                            Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              This is a rescue/sanctuary where the trainer comes for a clinic once a year, but the sanctuary horses are not handled this way, or indeed at all, over the year. Who attends the clinic? Is it for sanctuary volunteers, adopters of rescue horses, the general public?

                              What is the horse education level of the folks who work at the sanctuary and who attend the clinic? Often people attracted to volunteering for rescues can be newbies or quite naieve about horses.

                              Why this clinician? Is he coming free or low charge?

                              Is he a local name or a nobody or newbie trying to start out?

                              I certainly wouldn't quit my job over a bad choice clinician once a year. I would voice my concerns to the board and stay home from the clinics. And maybe suggest better clinicians.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                "Did you see him run into my stick?" I saw a Tom Dorrence vid where the horse was trying to be pushy and did run into Tom's stick. The stick remained still and the horse bopped himself --- the horse was not hit, but punished itself.

                                I'll never condone any form of dominance, or frightening of a horse. Horses learn at their own speed and it is not a timed competition.

                                This is not acceptable - you will have to decide for yourself if you should stay, whether to keep body and soul together, or if yo can work elsewhere. Goodluck.
                                Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Foxtrot's View Post
                                  "Did you see him run into my stick?" I saw a Tom Dorrence vid where the horse was trying to be pushy and did run into Tom's stick. The stick remained still and the horse bopped himself --- the horse was not hit, but punished itself.

                                  I'll never condone any form of dominance, or frightening of a horse. Horses learn at their own speed and it is not a timed competition.

                                  This is not acceptable - you will have to decide for yourself if you should stay, whether to keep body and soul together, or if yo can work elsewhere. Goodluck.
                                  I saw a film clip several years ago with Tom Dorrance and Larry Mahan. Larry was saddling a Trakehner (IIRC) and when he took the slack out of the girth the horse tried to bite him. It was an aggressive move. Dorrance took the head and told Larry to girth him up. As soon as Larry started to again take up the slack the horse moved to bite him and Dorrance whacked the horse HARD under the chin with his cane. It took a half dozen or so whacks to get the horse to not try and bite. When it was done Dorrance looked at the camera and said, "I didn't teach this horse not to bite; I taught him not to move his head while being girthed up. Teaching not to bite is the next step."

                                  G.
                                  Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
                                    This is a rescue/sanctuary where the trainer comes for a clinic once a year, but the sanctuary horses are not handled this way, or indeed at all, over the year. Who attends the clinic? Is it for sanctuary volunteers, adopters of rescue horses, the general public?

                                    What is the horse education level of the folks who work at the sanctuary and who attend the clinic? Often people attracted to volunteering for rescues can be newbies or quite naieve about horses.

                                    Why this clinician? Is he coming free or low charge?

                                    Is he a local name or a nobody or newbie trying to start out?

                                    I certainly wouldn't quit my job over a bad choice clinician once a year. I would voice my concerns to the board and stay home from the clinics. And maybe suggest better clinicians.
                                    The horses used in the clinic are all halterable and used to the basics. Coming into feed daily, getting their feet done, vaccinations twice a year. But we arent a training facility. there's too many horses and not enough of us to work every horse. We do basic ground work with a few a day who need refreshing. and take on certain horses as our projects.

                                    Our team is good, strong horse people. we dont all have the same opinion on training as we all come from different backgrounds.

                                    The clinic is run though the company's campaign to teach rescues how to rehabilitate horses. why they chose this guy? i couldn't tell you. I dont know much about him. never heard of him til he came here.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I don't think you are being oversensitive at all, and I would consider it flat out animal abuse if he hit the horse so hard he made it bleed.

                                      Personally, I think there is almost never a good reason to strike a horse in the nose, period. Certainly not with a stick. The only time I have ever done it is with an open hand, and that was only because the horse had bitten down on my finger and wasn't letting go. And of course, even then, it didn't require a very hard strike. Just enough to startle her and get her to let go.

                                      That's not to say I let horses get away with biting, of course. But I do not think that striking a horse in the face is a good training or corrective technique. Especially not with a stick.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Who is the trainer?

                                        Anyone remember the scene in Buck, with the yellow stud colt? Without context, I could write "this trainer took this colt, very frightened, and whacked it a few times, shook his stick at it aggressively, bucked it out, then said it was no good, abd chased it on a trailer and had it shot". Without actually being there, and knowing the context of the trainer's actions and horses' behaviours, it's hard to draw conclusions about it being abusive or not.

                                        PETA advocates tell us that the act of sitting on a horse is abuse. Sometimes, abuse is in the mind and belief principles of the observer. Many of us would agree horse shoes are not a form of abuse, but a barefoot advocate might disagree, and a TWH trainer might use shoes that most would agree ARE abusive. Sometimes, it is clear that actions are unwarrented, cause harm and distress to the horse. The horse had a blood nose? We don't know if the horse was tapped on the face for being pushy, and had an undetected nasal cyst that burst, or did the trainer strike the horse with such force that blood was drawn and injury caused to that horse, and would have occurred with most horses.

                                        A pushy horse can easily and quickly become a bitey, strikey horse, or just a quiet albeit "no personal space" love bug. Context here, perhaps, is warrented.

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