A few years ago, in the course of trying to retrain Tally after the “trainer” who started her had botched it so badly, I was making one last walk circle before getting off. But my dismount did not happen as I’d planned. We’d just turned across the arena when a slight rustle was heard from the ground behind us. Tally dropped her haunches and launched forward, followed by three of the biggest bucks I’ve ever experienced! The saddle slipped, I went sailing, and the day ended with me finding out I’d fractured a vertebrae. Such can be the result when dealing with an equine with explosive tendencies.
This post is about asking for your input. Three surveys, linked below, are the brainchild of my friend Caroline Stephens, for which she kindly asked my assistance. We are interested in where people are getting their riding information, particularly related to Dressage, and what information they are seeking/learning.
There is one constant, every winter – Noble hates the mud. Once it reaches a certain point of sloppiness, there is nothing that will entice him to cross the ‘bog’ to reach the higher ground and grass. This has been going on for years. Even when Java was around, we had to take the long route, through the arena, to get them turned out. Noble just does not like his giant feet to get wet, or to feel that suck from the mud. Nor will he go out when the rain is actually falling, even before the ground gets mucky. Yet, every winter it is inevitable that I see posts from people declaring that their horses do not need shelter or stalls, because they are living the life nature intended. If that is the criteria, then why do we keep our dogs inside? And more to the point, why are we not living around campfires still?
The saying is that a picture is worth a thousand words, yet so many involved in Dressage want to deny what the pictures tell us. The
most common complaint is that a photo is “just a moment in time” – yet, without the “moments in time” that Eadweard Muybridge gave us, we would not know the actual sequence of the footfalls in a horse’s stride. How can it be that those “moments” were valuable, but those we see today are not? The truth is, they are just as valuable – they just might not always be agreeable with our perception. Just as with Muybridge’s discoveries in locomotion, today’s photos capture moments that are missed by our naked eye.
The last thing I want to do is drag myself out from under the warm blanket, in my warm house, to venture out into the cold and the rain. It has been over a week, and four tissue boxes, and I am tired of struggling to breathe. Just standing up can be enough to make me want to sit back down again. But, there are numerous beings outside who rely upon us for their food and water – so, out I must go.
A recent Facebook conversation about positive reinforcement led to someone asking a question about one of my favorite fallacies – if you comfort a fearful or spooking horse, aren’t you just reinforcing the fear? I first encountered that idea when I started training our dogs, just over twenty years ago. My experience with a variety of animals told me that was a silly idea – and the more I’ve learned about how brains work, the sillier the idea gets. So, how do you handle the fearful equine? As with all things related to horses, techniques are numerous – and I’ve probably tried them all at one time or other – but some are definitely safer and saner than others.