On this beautiful, sunny Sunday morning, my daughter, myself and her friend did morning chores together. Of course, we were discussing horses and how sensitive they are. Enjoying our time together with the horses, we started discussing certain topics. As our conversations moved into several different directions, my daughters friend began to talk about the place she takes lessons at and how the horses seem unhappy. Telling us the instructor says while they are riding “kick them as hard as you can,” “rip their face off,” “they are big, they cant feel it!” She was explaining to us that the instructor kicks the horses on their sides from the ground if they misbehave. There was more said, but I think I have said enough.
What is wrong with this picture? This woman is teaching children through adults how to ride. She is their role model. It makes me cringe. How do you treat such a beautiful and sensitiv animal in such a barbaric way? Have we no Respect for the horses? When I was younger, I was taught this way too. I guess I was one of the lucky ones who had my own horses. This was no way to treat my friend. I started looking for a better way. It took many years, and thank goodness I found it.
Anyway, back to our barn conversation….. My daughter’s friend started asking questions about balance, showing me a video of a horse she was riding. Mentioning that the horse felt like it was about to fall over and she was just hanging on scared. the instructor was telling her “great, do it again.” I watched the video. The horse was so crooked to the left that it was about to buck her off as it was falling over the inside shoulder speeding around at the trot, almost cantering.
Diplomatically, I explained what I saw and where the horse was struggling and why. I provided a solution on how I would balance the horse out first on the lunge line before putting a rider on its back. When I brought up lunging, she said her instructor runs them around in a circle until they tire out and says “I did my job, my job is done.” This is her “role mode….” Until she expands her horizons, starts to feel the horse’s pain, gets hurt, or until she seeks further education, she will continue to think this treatment of horses and training modality is ok! Sadly, this woman has a thriving business. My heart and soul ache for these poor horses.
When I began my search for a better way, I was in my late teens. I started riding competitively at the age of 7. Following my “Role Model” instructors and trainers blindly. The one benefit I had was that my deep connection with my horses, I could see who was humane and who was not. There was no way someone was going to disrespect my horse and force it. We need to teach better morals, a deeper respect for the horses we are entrusted with, and if it seems wrong or abusive, it probably is.
I wish there was a way to infuse my knowledge into more people in the industry for the horses sake. Why are people so afraid of getting better and improving their knowledge. I am weary of the standards people uphold for their fellow equine friends (if they are friends at all). They want to be our friends. By nature they are curious, inquisitive, and very interested in exploring. Watch a foal that has been raised properly through kindness and setting healthy boundaries.
If you want the horse to be your friend, treat it like your friend. Would you be friends with someone who pulls your hair, kick them or tug them around like a puppet? Why is this ok? What in the human psyche says that this behavior is appropriate. Firstly, the trainer/instructor should train and educate the horses. The horses should be well balanced mentally, physically, and overall like humans. If they do not, then this horse is crying out it needs help/assistance. A riding instructor should know how to train a horse if they are teaching people how to ride.
The riding instructor should properly lunge and ride the horse regularly to keep it sound, balanced, and safe. If the riding instructor can not train horses, what business do they have teaching people how to ride?????? Please, enlighten me on this clear fact of the matter. This is the issue in the industry. There are no standards.
Fortunately and unfortunately for me, I studied under a trainer whose standards were light years ahead of the average horse person. I thank her greatly for educating me and learning this more subtle and artistic way of horsemanship. It is a blessing and a curse. Every day, I want to assist people to better connect with their horses and enjoy them on the ground and in the saddle. Build long term relationships with them. Respect them, yet learn how to teach healthy boundaries and understand body language..
When I was 20, I took a job teaching at a hunter jumper barn, teaching group lessons on school horses. These horses were miserable. Fortunately, I had some experience training and my students referred to me as “the miracle worker.” Whenever they rode in my lesson, the horses improved and we began having fun productive lessons. Instead of fighting with the horses when I first started teaching there. How do we fix the horse industry? I have bee teaching and training for almost 30 years and I have seen little improvement throughout the industry. Some areas have gotten worse.
Why aren’t we listening to the horses? Why aren’t we seeking a kinder, more productive and positive way? Why do people think you need to use brute force to reprimand or teach a horse?
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