Or… How to catch a cat.
That’s Nikolai-he’s a Tarpan/Heck horse-or what I like to call an autistic short eared mule. Tarpans are a lot like mules-they’re going to do what they’re going to do-and there’s just not a whole heck of a lot you’re going to do to persuade them otherwise. You know the old saying-you can tell a gelding, you can ask a stallion, but you will have to discuss it with a mare? Well, with mules and Tarpans, they want to see your resume, GPA, and at least 5 references. Don’t laugh-I’m not kidding.
Back to the subject at hand-gravity. One of the more disgusting facts about accummalating more calendars than I would like to admit to is the fact that gravity seems to be increasing in strength. Any person over the age of 45 can probably verify this. When you bend over to pick up anything, it becomes harder and harder to stand back up.
It also is harder to pick up those feed bags, bales of hay, and saddles and throw them around the barn like we used to do. The body feels the same, but doggone it, those things just weigh more these days. I don’t care what the labels say.
Have you had to get down on the floor lately – or worse, had a horse put you down there? Yep-you can really feel that magnetic core of the earth’s core pulling at you now, can’t you? Never used to feel 30 years ago, but now-geez that thing is really turned up high.
Nope-not looking forward to old age at all. This middle age stuff ain’t for sissies and I hear old age is worse. If the cure wasn’t so bad……oh, well.
These are the flags of not one but TWO causes that lost BIGLY.
I’m not talking itty, bitty fist fights, but major wars that cost 100’s of thousands of lives in the first and MILLIONS of lives in the second. We are NOT talking ‘heritage’ either, people. That is a freaking red herring. There never WAS a heritage-except in books like Gone With The Wind-which was FICTIONAL. Oh, there was also Uncle Tom’s Cabin-and we were carefully taught that the villian in that piece came from New England so he ‘really wasn’t a Southerner any way’. The implication being that no Southerner plantation owner would EVER treat their slaves so poorly. The hell you say.
There never was that many plantations in the south. People have the idea that they were all over the place. No they weren’t. Very few could AFFORD to have them. Don’t believe me-go do some research. Maybe 45 in Georgia. Maybe 15-20 in Alabama. The rest of the farming was done by sharecroppers and families-like my great grandfather 5 generations back. They didn’t own slaves-didn’t want to. Picked their own cotton and hauled it to the gin themselves.
Patriarchal societies have-throughout history-done two things really well-go to war because it stimulates their economy mostly in some respect, and beat the living hell out of women and children-always their own, but they’ll pick on the captives from the other side, too, if they can. Lord knows, the Bible is full of it. Abraham took Hagar, the slave girl of Sarah and had a son by her-and the Jews and the Arabs have been fighting ever since. Moses was hidden in the bullrushes by his mama (a slave) and found and adopted by the king’s daughter. When the Israelites starting leaving Egypt, the Egyptians woke up and realized “hey, all the slaves are leaving us!” and went after them. That’s the reason for the drowning of Pharoah’s army in the Red Sea. Slaves running away from their owners.
Jews had their own slaves. Just keep reading-all of the Old Testament is just chock full of this stuff.
Why am I bringing it up? Because back in the early days of this country, that was used to JUSTIFY the owning of black people as slaves in this country-mostly in the southern states. If you ever saw the musical 1776, the song ‘Molasses to Rum to Slaves’ is all about how the traders ran the ships from the sugar cane fields of the Carribean to New England to Africa with those cargoes.
Nowadays-the same backwards mindset still exists-primarily because people have never taken the time to learn that people with darker skins are just people with darker skins. There are some cultural differences, but there are those between white folks, too. I don’t eat lox and bagels for breakfast-but lots of people in New York City think that’s pretty tasty. They can’t see what I see in grits.
There is absolutely NOTHING that makes anybody’s skin color inherently superior racially to anybody else’s. Or more inferior, for that matter. It’s the way you BEHAVE towards your fellow human beings that determines that-and, for the record, the way those people behaved this weekend in Charlottesville, VA put them on the level of earthworms. Fish bait. Terrorizing people just for the hell of it is unacceptable at every level. Trying to blame their behavior on other people is childish. Driving a car into a crowd? That, folks, is pre-meditated murder and attempted murder with malice. That is a hate crime. Second degree murder my fat fanny.
Wanting law enforcement to treat you and your family like human beings is a reasonable thing. If I were black, I would be fighting mad about it. It is unjust. For the record, I have had sheriff deputies try deliberately to intimidate me-and, quite frankly, it got every bit of my Scottish heritage working overtime. I was furious. So, yes, I can easily see the why and how these black folks come at cops yelling, screaming, and trying to fight with them. I didn’t, but that incident was a real eyeopener.
Don’t push people like that. You’re asking for that response-and you’re going to get it.
In my mind, these people in charge of our government need to repudiate all connections to the Klan, white nationalists, white supremacists, and Alt-Right groups loudly, strongly, and as a united front. That includes the Executive, Congress, and Supreme Court. These Nazis and fascists must be told that their campaign of fear, violence, and terrorism will not be tolerated, their racial and sexual bigotry is unwelcome, and that we will fight them with law and guns if need be. But they cannot have our country-EVER.
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I’ve ridden, trained, bred, and competed in the horse world for over 50 years now. I learned the same thing that just about everyone does:
- that you need the right bit to stop and control your horse.
- you kick to make the horse go.
- Spurs are to make them run faster (or spin harder or whatever)
- Whips are for punishment.
Every bit of it is wrong. Yep, WRONG.
Took me a long time to learn that, but I finally did. Here’s the truth:
- Your seat stops your horse–you don’t even need a bridle or reins.
- Your weight and legs direct your horse-bits and reins really are superfluous.
- Likewise, the way you use your seat and legs can be the throttle that increases or decreases speed, increases or decreases relaxation or collection.
- Spurs and whips should be used for signaling only. There are very few instances when punishment is warranted. Why? Because 99% of the time, YOU are the one who missed the signals the horse was giving and was trying to tell you something was off. YOU are the screw up. So if you just want to beat the crap out of somebody, go take yourself out behind the barn.
Now then–about that waiting on your horse stuff.
Let the horse tell you when they are ready for the next step of doing anything. Break everything down into SMALL steps. For example, I have a trailer with a ramp. So to get one to load onto that trailer, I start with just asking one to pass by me and walk ACROSS THE RAMP. Then maybe I’ll feed them with the feed way up high on it so they have to reach for it-maybe even putting a foot on the ramp to get to it. No pressure-just if you want, go after it. Then maybe I’ll load a pasture mate and feed them inside. Then I ask the newbie to just approach-they don’t have to load, just approach. I’ll let them stand-think about it-back up, then we’ll work for awhile. Repeat. After awhile, they start getting the idea “hey, if I approach the trailer, I get to stand and rest, but if I’m out here, I’m out running around”.
Usually takes about two hours to get one on for the first time. Let them eat, then back off and put them up. Let it soak. Don’t force it. Let the horse ask for another try at it. Let them get comfortable in there. Just grab a cold one and sit in the shade.
How do I know this works? I used this on my CTR horse. That horse would load any time any where-and what’s more, he’d stand in that trailer until I asked him to come off. One time I dropped both the ramp and the butt bar, but got called away before I unloaded him. He was still waiting for me 45 minutes later. He was not tied, but just waiting on me.
Don’t rush your horse.
Hold steady to the calm and peacefully persist.
I read some equestrian news yesterday that Sinead Halpin retired one of her top mounts, and she quoted her husband, Tik Maynard, as saying, “A great horse would jump through fire for you if you asked, and a great horseman would never ask.” I can think about this for hours. It might be one of […]
I’m sharing this because I love the quote-I love the wisdom in it. I think you will, too.
First of all, a reminder-these are my opinions and they are based on 50+ years of working with all kinds of horses. However, if you disagree, feel free to keep on going. I know not everybody is going to agree with me. In fact, I’ve spent most of my life out of step with the rest of the world so it is nothing new to me. But do not attempt to change my viewpoints by charging in and ‘correcting’ me. It simply will not work. I’ll ignore you.
This photo is on top because I see a lot-no, make that TONS-of horses wearing snaffles and flash nose bands. I did it, too, for awhile with a young horse until he made it quite plain that the arrangement pissed him off to no end. (Always pay attention to what your horse is telling you, folks. My riding instructor kept telling me to do this or that, but I listened to HIM. He was shaking his head, pulling on the reins, opening his mouth, not listening, dropping his shoulder, etc. The problem lay in the bridle-it hurt.) So I set about learning about bits, nosebands, hands, and why they are used. It isn’t pretty the majority of the time.
Nose bands were originally nothing more than a way to tie your horse without using the reins in the military/driving days. They had a ring underneath and were always fairly heavy leather worn loosely enough that the horse could chew his ration in a nose bag. Some person somewhere along the line got the ‘brilliant’ idea that they could force a horse’s mouth closed by putting a few more holes in the thing. Why did they want to?
This is why-if you put something into a mouth and it can be steel, plastic, rubber, leather-you can find ways to create pain. Now I’m NOT saying that you shouldn’t use bits-but you should understand that ALL bits are capable of creating ENORMOUS pain. There is no such thing as a ‘mild’ bit. All that varies is the knowledge and skill of the hands that use it. A thick snaffle in the hands of a fool can be the instrument of extreme torture to a horse. By the same token, there are some people who can get horses to perform world class dressage bridleless. I’ve ridden a finished spade bit horse that could be handled with a feather’s touch on the reins and the nose band was for decoration only.
People want the end-without the work involved to get there.
Now I’m a perfectionist myself-and I can get as frustrated as the next person about my horses’ performance as anyone else. So don’t even start down that road with me. You do have the time to work with that horse-you just don’t want to take it. You’d rather take the shortcut of hurting your horse-causing pain-and justifying it to yourself as ‘but everybody else does it’, ‘my trainer recommended it’, ‘my horse wasn’t listening to me’, blah, blah, blah. Go ahead-add any you wish-I’ve heard them all-and they are all EXCUSES FOR POOR HORSEMANSHIP. That’s unacceptable.
The third photo is another type of nose band being marketed. Notice that it is supposedly more ‘humane’ because it avoids the jaw bones covered only with skin. Well, isn’t that nice, folks? But now we have a strap higher on the jaw to help hold the jaw closed and better bracing across the nose bridge. The horse loses even more. (Actually, you do, too.
The thing is pricey.)
I didn’t put any Western, endurance, or other disciplines in this-mostly for space reasons. They are just as much at fault as the English branch. If there is a way a human can inflict pain and suffering on a horse, by golly, they’ll find it and do it.
Am I one of those nuts who thinks horses shouldn’t be ridden? Oh, heck, no. I do think that a great many of the gizmos (chambons, draw reins, martingales, gambons, tie downs, etc.) should be recognized for what they are and thrown in the land fills. If you think you need something like that-get a motorcycle or ATV and leave the horse alone. As one person puts it “If you keep getting the wrong answer, then you aren’t asking the right question.” See the last photo for an example of that-the rider isn’t getting the ‘frame’ that was desired so rollkur was resorted to to achieve it. The wrong question was being asked so the wrong answer was given. The horse is paying the price for the humans’ quest for perfection.