Probably the first or maybe second question out of anyone’s mouth after they find out that you are a fellow horse love is-what kind of riding do you do? Followed closely with-what kind of horse do you have? They’re really interchangeable and can be one then the other. But you will get them. Some people have yardsticks-if you aren’t into ________ and ride ________, well, you just don’t register with them as being significant in their world. I’m not going to put that down-I think it’s a bit short-sighted on their part, but it is their choice. No skin off my nose certainly.
As one man who came into my spouse’s office responded to that question: “Quarter horses! Is there any other kind? What have you got?” To which my spouse replied, “Well, I guess if that’s the case, I don’t have any!” (We have Arabian crosses and a TWH.).
Then you get into the (sorry, but it is true) snobbery of what kind of saddle your butt is parked on. Honestly, I’ve ridden just about every type of saddle made with the exception of a jockey’s half saddle, a side saddle, and a vaquero/knight’s saddle. It isn’t the saddle that makes the equestrian. Any body can be taught how to be a passenger on a horse-that’s called being a rider. I’ve seen dogs, cats, goats, and monkeys do it. It takes dedication, hard work, willingness to learn, and the ability to admit your mistakes to be an equestrian. I see darn few who fill that bill. I see a lot who take the short cuts of tight nose bands, tie downs, harsh bits, heavy hands, and spurs. They are by no means amateurs-you can see them at the Olympics. If you see a horse with a gaping mouth even with a tight flash nose band or figure 8-something is wrong. If you see a gag bit-something is wrong. If you see a horse being yanked on, something is wrong. Not with the horse-wrong with the human.
I didn’t used to see this-but since I have seen horse do cutting, reining, roping, show jumping, trail classes, dressage, and liberty work either bitless or bridleless, it dawned on me-what have I been doing to my horses? All that must not be necessary if the necessary time is spent. All that stuff is merely shortcuts for humans and we rationalize our actions that cause pain to our horses. How dare we?
this is in response to the fact that I seem to be getting an inordinate number of single male requests to ‘friend’ me on Facebook. Listen up, guys-I’m MARRIED-to a great man. And from what I can tell from your pages-your jokes, posts, photos, and what have you-well, let’s just say I’m less than impressed. Got what I wanted and not looking to change.
Y’all have a nice day-but do it somewhere else.
This is a print by an artist named Bev Dolittle that I happen to admire greatly. Her talent is amazing. I own several of her limited edition prints although this is not one of them. I can’t afford it. But it is the one that drew me to her-because there is so much more to be seen in her work.
People do this with horses-they look at what the Natural Horsemanship clinicians and practioners are doing and think “well, shoot, I can wiggle a rope and wave a stick around”-and they might even get initial results. The problem lies in the fact that there is so much MORE to it that merely that. It lies in timing, watching the horse’s reactions, knowing the horse’s personality, knowing your own personality, knowing whether both of you are right that second in time, bringing the correct ask, looking for the correct response, giving the correct reward at the precise right instant. All of this happens in the blink of an eye. It takes practice, skill, and determination to do. You do not just attend one event and come away an expert on the techniques-although, Lord Knows, many have tried and gone on to bad mouth natural horsemanship.
Back to Dolittle’s work-you see trees, snow, and a red fox, right? Look more closely. There are also two braves riding appaloosas through the trees. Ah! Now you can’t un-see them. Life is like that. It’s like stopping and getting to know just a little something about a beggar on a street-once you do, you’ll see all of them as real people with real stories and real problems. Nothing is ever the same again.
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But it seems apparent to me that in some ways, humans have no evolved much since the days when we hunted horses down purely as a source of meat. Certainly the paintings on the walls of caves support this conclusion.
We still-in some places-consume their flesh, although most in the USA consider this practice to be abhorrent. Some cases of outright brutality-beatings, stabbings, shootings (guns and bows), dragging with ropes/chains, and various other tortures are described in news articles on the internet-and we now know that individuals who do this sort of thing will go on to bring that hell on humans sooner rather than later.
But what about the lesser evils we inflict? Can we address those?
- Horses are open range animals-they live in herds and depend on being able to see and able to move to get away from danger. But what do we do? We do the very opposite-we lock them up in solitary in small boxes for our own worry-free existence-not theirs. It’s no wonder they acquire ulcers and bad habits such as cribbing, weaving, wall kicking, bolting their feed, and such. They are our prisoners.
- We cut their body hair off-and then put blankets on them. I understand why you would-and have done so myself for medical reasons. But ordinarily, no, I would not. The body hair does a fine job of protecting the horse from the elements and needs little else unless the weather is really poor. I will help them in foul weather, but on the whole-they do fine au natural.
- Shoes-ah, you knew I’d get to this one. This is a hard topic. To be sure, the ‘modern’ horse has been bred mostly for what is above the coronet band-and that’s a crying shame. After my first horse-whom I treasured, I vowed to look at the hooves first. The Sports Model Jackass had LOUSY feet. They were big, dinner plate size, and they chipped. Moreover, they had flattened due to repeated foundering. He was a mess. He had to be shod-no way around it. Problem was-couldn’t keep steel on him. The wall would crumble. Fortunately that was when the plastic shoes came out-and the blacksmith grumbled but he put them on the horse-and they worked.
Since that time, I have carefully acquired a herd that is totally barefoot-and needs no shoeing at all-with the possible exception of boots on occasion. They all have thick heavy hooves and go sound over most surfaces.
My suggestion to horse owners? Use the old desert way of looking at potential horses. Start at the ground. They’d sit in a tent and roll up one side of the tend about four inches. Horses would be led up-and those that looked good would be brought back for additional passes as the tent wall rose slowly to pastern, then knee/hock, then full leg, then shoulder, belly, hip,, then topline, and finally-head and neck. That way-you don’t get caught in the ‘but he’s just so beautiful’ or ‘she has such a sweet face’ nonsense.
- Nosebands-why do you use one? Why are you pulling that thing so tight? Think about it. If you say “my horse is opening his mouth to evade the bit”, go grab a dressage whip and give yourself a beat down. I’m serious. The question is NOT How do you keep your horse from opening his mouth, but why aren’t you doing something about the pain you are causing in his mouth that causes him to open his mouth? What kind of owner are you that you are ignoring the pain you are causing?? Okay, that’s a harsh question, but since I see an awful lot of it, and 11/10 times it involves a rider hauling back on the reins, feet braced in the stirrups, horse’s mouth foamed, eyes white rimmed, and the rider’s jaw set-well, damn it, somebody needs to say something. Take the time to learn to ride properly, loosen that noseband, and, if you have to, throw those bits away. You do not need metal to control a horse.
- Learn to feed properly. Ditch the molasses. You heard me-it is not good for horses. Do you eat candy at every meal? So why are you feeding the equivalent to your horse? Likewise, corn is not horse food. GRASS is horse food. Roughage is horse food. Learn what makes good horse food.
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Looking for Pearl and Piper The breeder is looking for Too Sexy for My Tux and One Hot Moon Pie (registered names) or Pearl and Piper. Their sire is getting some age on him and she wants to find these two babies of his. They may be considered as grade horses now, but they were sold originally as Paints.
If you have information on either one, please use the contact information on the webpage to get in touch with the breeder. Feel free to share-you never know who might be the person who has that piece of information you’re looking for.
If you know anything about Harry- his owner wants to hear about it. Apparently, Harry’s a really nice horse-one of those that has training that you really didn’t expect when you first bought him, but you find out later. The kind of horse that makes you wonder-‘gee, I wonder if maybe this horse has somebody looking for him?”
So take a look-I promise there’s no nasty bugs attached-and see if you recognize Harry’s face. If you do-give the guy a call.
This happened in my home state-not too far from where I live. So not only did I have the usual “oh, no, not another horse theft” reaction, but it was also “not in MY backyard you don’t!” response. Now I’m not being naive or silly. I know there are probably other thefts in the state that I’m simply not aware of. In fact, I’d bet money on it. I also know that horses are known to disappear because of various kinds of civil disputes-somebody didn’t pay their board bill, went too long without checking on a horse they left on a “friend’s” farm and, guess what, both friend and horse are long gone, and what seems like endless variations on the theme. There are also the lost ones-they dump a rider on a trail ride, jump a fence, bolt for some reason, etc. But the thefts make me just angry.
The rest of the volunteers and I got busy and went to work. So did the mother and daughter who owned the horses-and they poured themselves into it. Phone calls, social media posts, fliers being posted, thousands of emails going out, TV coverage-and soon someone called that they thought they had the palomino, Buddy. He was some miles away which gave us an idea of which direction to look in for the other horse as well.
It turned out that he did have Buddy-so that was one recovered, but one still missing. We kept up the barrage of internet and email notices. Before another 48 hours had passed, we had messages from one of the thieves-they wanted to give the other horse back because they couldn’t sell him! (Broke our hearts, let me tell you!) They dumped him in a woman’s pasture-she called the owners-and they went to pick him up.
What happens to the thieves? That’s up to law enforcement and the District Attorney’s office. Our team of volunteers was interested only in the well-being and recovery of the two horses-and we accomplished what we were there for.
Now-were we paid? Not in the usual sense, no. There is a very modest fee of $25 to file the report. For that they got 3 people working 12 hour days for 4 days. You do the math. I’d say they got more than their money’s worth. Video link-Henry and Buddy
Yep-it’s a wonderful world we live in.