Friday, May 7, 2010

Clinic - part 6 of a whole bunch

Gaited horse who learns to bend at the poll

Reminder, this is from the clinic I attended nearly a month ago...

On the second day of the clinic we had the same line up of horses and owners, with the addition of the black gaited horse (pictured above).

Let's start with Skoal, the worrier.

If you remember this post, you'll recall that Skoal was a horse with a good deal of panic in him. His fear extended to the farrier as well.

Kathleen went through the painstaking process of repairing this area of Skoal's experience. During the process she shared the conversation she's had with farriers and vets. One farrier said he was dreading coming out to work with her horses because he'd been told she was a natural horsemanship trainer. In his experience these were the absolute worst horses to shoe. They wouldn't stand, they'd kick, they were down right dangerous.

Of course Kathleen's horses were well behaved, but it got her thinking. She started to talk to farriers and vets about what the "standard" should be. And she became focused on trying to get every horse she worked with to behave at that standard. To stand quietly. To lift gently and lower gently. To be model horses for farriers. She talked to a vet who told her of horses that would pin her in a stall and how frightening it could be. You could tell Kathleen was appalled.

"What are we doing?" she said. "We are putting people in danger and we're not giving these horses a very good shot in the world. We are setting them up for a very bad end."

I thought of the many horses I knew that had significant issues. A horse that rears and has to be sedated to be shod. A horse that can't handle shots. A horse that pulls back so severely that she has pulled out telephone poles.

Somewhere, someone decided that they couldn't be trained through it. And that changed the life and chances of those horses.

For the next hour Skoal went from not being willing to lift his foot at all to lifting his front hoof readily. It took ropes, patience, and precise timing to reward the try. Skoal was not done with this lesson. But he was on his way.

Diego, not ready for riding

Diego, the gaited horse that was so dominant during the round pen session the day before, was saddled and his owner wanted to ride him to assess what he needed.

I missed most of this session because it was right after my session with Cibolo. But what I caught was terrible. If I was disappointed because Cibolo was saddle sore, Diego's owner was crushed by the news she got.

"I see a horse that is on his second or third ride," Kathleen was saying. She stopped short of saying that this horse wasn't well suited to his owner, a relatively green rider. But it was there, clear as if the words had been spoken.

His owner would leave that night, thinking that she'd sell him. "I have three horses I can't ride," she told me miserably. But the next day she decided she'd keep him, do more ground work.

I wish I could say I felt good about that, but I have fairly strong opinions about green on green - green horses and green owners. She'd already gotten a broken ankle. And while any horse can injure you, I think women riders of a certain age should consider a confidence builder - not a challenge suited for a more experienced, younger rider.

But that's just me.

Next: The biting gray, the gaited horse lowers his head


Anonymous said...

Thanks! More, please.

Mrs Mom said...

I concur with the other farriers who have said NH "trained" horses are some of the most dangerous to work on. I'm at the point now that if an owner proudly crows that the horse has been "trained" using XXXXX NH methods, I don't accept them as a client.

Fair to the horses? No. Not by half. But I also can not take the proper time it takes to provide hoof care so that *I* can be safe.

I sure hope your clinician can make a difference with a LOT of people and horses. The horse world sure needs more folks like her in it.

AareneX said...

I concur that MANY of the worst-behaved horses I deal with at endurance rides as a pulser are the horses that the owners proudly point to as a "level xyz NH". Argh.

There are some BASIC training benchmarks that I think a horse should achieve before the owner should sit back and smile: Stand quietly while tied. Pick up all four feet without a fuss. Walk and trot properly beside the handler. Stand quietly for mounting. Submit to a basic vet exam.

I recognize that we are all "works in progress", but those are BASICS. Some people bring the same horse to competition year after year with no discernible improvement in basic manners. Sigh.

Susan said...

It doesn't matter what method of training that is used, unless it's abusive. If people don't understand training horses, the time it takes and what the outcome should be, the horse will be the loser.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

Thanks for the clinic posts. You've covered them very well.