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Re-hashing horse thoughts.

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1 Re-hashing horse thoughts. on Mon Sep 03, 2012 12:01 am

uno

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Saw it again recently, that uber dose of politically correct caution that makes us all feel like we are being careful and concerned, really focused on safety. We all want horse riding to be a safe sport. NEWS FLASH: IT ISN'T!

Lawn bowling with 80 year olds is safe. Knitting with safety tips on your needles is safe, as long as you remain seated and don't run. Watching re-runs while firmly rooted to the sofa is safe. But horse back riding? Give it up.

Okay, okay, before we all start flinging mud let me make it absolutely clear that I DO NOT advocate lunacy. I am all for helmets and good common sense and a fair dose of caution. But in the horse world I am seeing an extreme swing to safety first which frankly, makes me gag a little. I do not think people should put their 5 year olds on bucking broncs! But..more and more I see kids who could advance, should advance, except for some trainer/coach/ parent who is hung up on safety and thus, the kid stagnates and in the process picks up FEAR.

Fear is a subtle thing. I hear it whispered in the words, "You're not ready to jump yet. You're not ready to canter yet. You're not ready for a more advanced horse yet." And some kid goes mind-numb trotting round and round and round some stinking arena, heels down, elbows in, chin up, look where you're going. ENOUGH ALREADY! (this also makes horses insane, I see them everyday. Well meaning stable bound individuals making a horse dangerous by trapping it in an arena without ever taking it out and showing it the world!)

I am learning there is a difference between equitation people and riders. One is polished, lovely, well schooled, and not prepared for one moment of stink from a horse, because they have never pushed themselves or their horse beyond the 'safety' zone. Let's set everyone up for success, by NEVER placing them in a position to fail. Welcome to Wonderland where all other fairytales come true! I see many people who are picture perfect sitting on a horse, but cannot ride one!

Riders are, well, a little rougher around the edge. Perhaps their form lacks refinement. Perhaps they are a little less schooled. But the schooling they did get was the school of hard knocks, road miles, get bucked off and GET BACK ON! No one whispered in their ear that they should not try more or faster or bigger. There was no safety guru chanting the 'don't do it' mantra in their ear. No, they pushed themselves and their horses, rubbed Absorbine Junior on the horse and themselves at the end of a day. A rider is prepared for what a horse might do because she has been on all sorts of horses in all sorts of situations and has learned the hard way how this might end up. But my money says she knows how to ride it out.

I see many young people thwarted, stopped in their tracks by an overbearing, politically correct caution that has morphed into near paralysis. It removes initiative, drive, boldness, adventure and daring. And while those traits need to be tempered and managed, they should also be preserved and treasured, since they make RIDERS. That will to move beyond the comfort zone, that drive to find out 'what if..'. I weep as I see it brought back down to a trot, heels down, no you cannot canter, no you cannot jump, no that horse you're looking at is too much for you. You know how you learn to ride horses that are too much? By riding them. Know how you learn to jump? By jumping.

I see many kids who have oodles of natural horse talent be smothered into learning nothing new...because it would mean taking a risk. No, I do not want to see anyone get hurt, I hate it when someone comes off! But gee...this sport is not for those who aren't prepared to take a few knocks. When the 'safety first' pendulum swings too far, it knocks out teeth and growth and potential just like a hoof to the face.

Horse musings....while I solve the world's problems.







2 Re: Re-hashing horse thoughts. on Mon Sep 03, 2012 7:25 am

CynthiaM

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Oh girl, you are so alive, you are so real, and Uno, you are special -- you are one of a kind, and you always bring that smile to me face when you get your lil' ol' fingers flyin' or' that keyboard. You have the most thought provoking topics you bring to us, and don't ever stop being you girl, be you....always (those banana squash are about 9 inches thick now and about 3 feet long, smiling, by the way, sorry to flip off on the topic). I think they might be as tall as me when all is said and done and the stem begins to brown, still green growing leaves, scaring me half to death with size). Right...where was I?

Were you talking about me as a young child riding, or my children when they were riding? We all never had lessons, until much later into our learning years. We rode our horses recklessly and all over the mountains and around the vales. Just as I picture your Horsey Teen doing on that massive dude that she rides. The building bones for riders to be knowledgeable about the ways of rough riding. Then, in later years, many lessons to hone those deep skills, that can only be learned through the rough terrain, bush, call it what you will, riding, that allow experience to become, beautiful, as you said. Pristine riding habits that have been taught by an other in the later years, to turn out beautiful riding people, that "have been there, done that" with experience of craziness as horse and rider when off to the wild blue yonder. I thank my lucky stars that we have been blessed that as older riders, we had the chance as youngsters to ride and ride more, in those ways, that were not governed by an oval or round or square ring, to put those bounds on me. Always speak your mind Uno, you have that gift, said it before and I'll say it again.....have a most beautiful day, to us all, CynthiaM.

3 Re: Re-hashing horse thoughts. on Mon Sep 03, 2012 8:18 am

Schipperkesue

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Uno, I could not have expressed it better. I went for a few lessons to brush up on my skills a couple years back and was so turned off by the horrific teaching skills of my instructor, I will never go back. She was a bully and taught by intimidation and mockery. After two lessons I was done. The strange thing is all the other instructors I knew who had no time to help me hone my skills a little and who had recommended her, all agreed with me about her abilities when I informed them of the poor recommendation they had given. What a scam. Can anyone with a horse and a little training of their own start teaching? Are there any courses/credentials they must have? As a gymnastics instructor I went through rigorous courses to meet the provincial standard and neede to take upgrades regularly to maintain my coaching status.

This experience completely ruined me as far as interest in riding went. I sold my horses and have not been on one since.

4 Re: Re-hashing horse thoughts. on Mon Sep 03, 2012 9:09 am

coopslave

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I hear ya Uno. It is a sad thing. I think some kids are getting to learn it right still, but (and this is only my humble opinion) it is worst in the English world now.

When we were kids we learned to ride by the seat of our pants. When I was 5 I broke in my first pony. I had older sisters and got to ride lots of good ponies before that, but I wanted one of my own and I picked the savage myself so my parents let me run with it. The little tart would buck me off all the time. She was only a tiny mountain welsh, but she was feisty. My parents have many stories of me coming into the house wailing cause she had bucked me off and run off. They would go out and catch her and I would grab the reins from them with tears streaming down my face and climb back on. Every family gathering for years had stories of me and this nasty pony.

I learned how to stay on her when she bucked, so she started to run under low things, branches or rails, to brush me off. Then I got strong enough to stop that and she started to lay down. My sister, older than me by 6 years, gave me the sage advice to give her a kick in the guts when she does that. You can imagine the laughter when she does it to me at a show when we line up in the center and I haul off and give her a boot.

This pony taught me how to ride and not to give up. She made me the horse person I am now (along with many other amazing horse teachers) and I would not change the few years I spent with her. When I got to big for her, she was sold. She would escape from her new home and make her way back to our place on a regular basis. She had to come through town and over the main bridge, but she did it. We would get calls from people along her way to let us know to keep and eye out for her. Nasty thing!!! Laughing

We used to ride the horses bareback into the Indian reservation and swim them in the lake. Sometimes the horses would all leave and we would have to walk home. Often dad would come and pick us up part way home. Did that stop us from doing it again, nope, it was to much FUN!

I am helping a older woman right now, learning to ride. I have her on a very safe, broke, reliable horse. She rides in the arena with me when she does ride. I make her catch, brush and tack up her own horse. I have given her the real basics and now I just let her ride. She needs to learn how it feels to balance and sit and become one with the horse. She gets little reminders from me about her heels, and how she is holding her reins, but right now it is about being comfortable and having some fun. She will get the more disciplined stuff in a little while when she is comfortable and has a little better balance.

I think there is to many people turned off rather than turned on to riding every year. It is fun! It should stay that way. Geez, walking across the street is dangerous but that doesn't stop people.

Cindi did it right. It takes falling of 7 times to make a horse person. It should still be done with caution when starting out, safe horse in safe area. I hear so many horror stories about peoples first rides, but it should be FUN too. It is a balancing act.

5 Re: Re-hashing horse thoughts. on Mon Sep 03, 2012 10:37 am

Hillbilly

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These are things I see while volunteering at our western riding club all the time. You can differentiate the two pretty quickly. Friends and family of club members are always asking if I ride, and when I politely nod, they ask me why I'm not riding today. My response is always the same. I ride outside the ring. Ducking under trees, climbing hills and mountains, riding through mud to get to that elusive spot with the view of the land I live in. Hanging on as my horse traverses the obstacles nature has placed in the path I have chosen.
I remember getting my first horse, and while at team penning, I was talking to one of the old school cowboys about getting lessons. He looked at me and said, "you wanna learn how to ride? You hop on and ride." So I did.

It seems to be a trend in life now protect your child from getting hurt by not letting them do things that could potentially hurt them. I am thankful I grew up with parents that let me do the things I wanted using common sense.
My wife is the opposite. Her mom never let her do anything as a child and I see the end result all the time. She is always reluctant to try something new. Afraid of the consequences.
You don't learn new things by not trying them.

Firsthand experience goes a long way. The fastest way to learn something is to try it.

6 Re: Re-hashing horse thoughts. on Mon Sep 03, 2012 12:29 pm

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As usual, Uno, you have touched a nerve, plucked a chord. I wholeheartedly agree wtih you and all of you. I was lucky enough as a kid to be able to learn to ride by being bucked, brushed, branched and rolled off a naughty POA pony that belonged to a co-worker of my dad. I think it made me a more adventurous person in a lot of ways.

In fact as I was reading your post I was thinking about how I rode my motorcycle to Peachland on Saturday to meet a friend for lunch, then came home along Westside Rd. (locals will know the meaning of this) and how I pushed myself *just a little* faster than I felt really comfortable doing...and how I did it to test what I know and to improve my skills. And I'm sure it did.

I think those early years of learning to ride as you suggest - really learning to ride, to know a horse, to know ONESELF, sets us up to have better experiences as adults too. I know a woman who put her kid through all kinds of arena learning, and she did the horse-Mom thing, and then started riding as an adult. Well, you can just imagine how it went when her idiot "coach" (I loathe this person so it's hard to even think about him and type such tame words to describe him. Grrr!!! Pittooey!) over-horsed and over-classed her with DISASTEROUS results!! No, she wasn't injured, thank god, but she was so mortified, I could see her praying for that arena ground to open up and swallow her (and her naughty horse too), and now she is back to being a non-rider. Mad It makes me sad, sick, and so angry. If she had tasted the freedom and success of riding as a kid, learning how to out-think a horse, how to sit a horse...things would have been so different for her. She would have stood up to the piss-ant 'coach' (Pittooey!!) and had a completely different first experience in the Reining arena.

Anyway. That's a long-winded way of saying you're right. There's a time and a place to over-horse yourself, and it's NOT in the show pen, but miles and years prior.

Thanks for putting yourself out there and opening up this topic.

xo

7 Re: Re-hashing horse thoughts. on Mon Sep 03, 2012 2:46 pm

uno

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I am hearing what confirms my suspicions. That life long riders are made the hard way, their own way. I think it's a great thing when a wonderful natural talent gets with a gifted trainer/coach and turns that ability and experience into something awesome. But it almost seems that the best riders had that freedom to fail, to come off, to walk home wihtout the horse, to figure it out for themselves. THAT cannot be given in an arena with the main focus being 'safety'.

Sue, I am sorry to hear that your bad experience unhorsed you. I was also unhorsed, but at a very young age. Having had NO riding experience and no one to give me any wisdom at all, I was given, for a brief time, a truly awful horse. She bit me, stepped on me, refused to move or swiped me off on low objects. She frustrated me no end, but I loved her to bits. Then one morning I woke up and looked out my bedroom window and there was a big truck with the words Nasby Meat Packers, and my horse was in the truck! The horse left, my riding career ended becase no other horse ever came into my life. As I watch my daughter ride now, and hope this is the foundation for a life long love and pursuit, I wonder what I might have acheived had I had more time with a horse. But now, I am just plain scared.

Like anything, I think to be a rider you are eihter born with it, or you're not. It can be honed and developed. But if that true grit isn't there, it just isn't there. But if it is there, I have seen many coaches and trainers caution it right out of a budding rider. All of you who have posted sound like you had the childhoods that set you up for success in many areas of your life. And you are so rihgt FarmChiq, the boldness and confidence that comes from handling horses, figuring out what they're going to do, it stands a person well in all facets of life.

Sometimes I just want to shove the coach onto the ground, throw open the arena gate, point out into the wild blue yonder and say to some kid, GO! If you're not back in an hour, we'll send out a search party. But until then, god has granted you the closest thing to flight and freedom. GO!

8 Re: Re-hashing horse thoughts. on Mon Sep 03, 2012 3:44 pm

coopslave

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I think there is a balance in it all. I have had some amazing coaches in my life too. My parents were very strong and they didn't leave us with anyone that did not inspire us.

I was very young when I rode with my very first coach. I didn't know WHO he was, I just liked him, thought he was fun and he kept me interested as a young girl. It turns out we were very lucky to have the then Olympic Eventing team coach living in our backyard and he became very good friends with my parents. I was lucky, but I do remember he even encouraged a bit of reckless river swimming the horses! Very Happy Good for them and us.

I am still very good friends with the last eventing coach I had. Amazing woman in so many ways that are not just horsey. I am in the western, cutting horse world now and also finding people that are incredible, I just don't have time for the others anymore.

So I think it is about freedom to learn certain things that can't be taught, but also to be taught with passion, care and joy.

9 Re: Re-hashing horse thoughts. on Tue Sep 04, 2012 8:59 am

CynthiaM

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ah, great stories, now get on that pony and ride!! I think back on the days of childhood riding and I was fearless and took no crap, ever. Those were the days, so long ago, where riding over a bridge in New Westminster, in B.C. called Patulo Bridge, to see my girlfriend in Surrey (from the Lougheed Mall area, before it was built), a main throughfare bridge, was nothing. In those days, horses knew roads, smiling that big smile. Picture that, a 12 year old girl, riding on the sidewalk, over a huge bridge over the Fraser River, from Burnaby to Surrey. Oh man oh man. This actually still does make me shudder, what if the horse had been freaked? It would have been over the rails to the muddy Fraser below. But him and I made that trip a good many times, Lightening, my ol' pinto pony of 14.3 h.h. Keep the stories of days gone by comin', this is cool. Have an awesome day, CynthiaM.

10 Re: Re-hashing horse thoughts. on Tue Sep 04, 2012 9:57 am

Hillbilly

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Cynthia, that's a long bridge!

Funny you should mention bridge crossings, as next weekend, we are doing a ride across the historic kinsol trestle in the cowichan valley. At 145 ft high, and 614 ft long, it is one of the. Largest trestles in the world.

Here is an old photo before its reconstruction

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11 Re: Re-hashing horse thoughts. on Tue Sep 04, 2012 10:17 am

coopslave

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Gee Hillbilly, I hadn't read your whole post before the thought in my head was 'How do you plan on getting across with the big hole in it!' Laughing

12 Re: Re-hashing horse thoughts. on Tue Sep 04, 2012 10:22 am

Fowler

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coopslave wrote:Gee Hillbilly, I hadn't read your whole post before the thought in my head was 'How do you plan on getting across with the big hole in it!' Laughing

I just figured he was going to jump it. Don't play it safe, learn by doing and all that. lol!

Would the horse lose respect for me if I lead him across while crawling?

13 Re: Re-hashing horse thoughts. on Tue Sep 04, 2012 10:24 am

coopslave

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Fowler wrote:
coopslave wrote:Gee Hillbilly, I hadn't read your whole post before the thought in my head was 'How do you plan on getting across with the big hole in it!' Laughing

I just figured he was going to jump it. Don't play it safe, learn by doing and all that. lol!

Would the horse lose respect for me if I lead him across while crawling?

Now that has digitally enhanced, movie scene written all over it!!!!

14 Re: Re-hashing horse thoughts. on Tue Sep 04, 2012 10:35 am

Hillbilly

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I just hope he enjoys the view because my eyes will be closed.

15 Re: Re-hashing horse thoughts. on Tue Sep 04, 2012 11:05 am

uno

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Remember way back at the beginning of this post when I said I do not advocate lunacy? Let's just repeat that for certain bridge traversing He-Men, I DO NOT ADVOCATE LUNACY!

Cindi...some of s lived childhoods that are practically illegal now-a-days, with all the safety concerns that haunt the modern parent. When I think back on our adventures..oy! Lucky we are that we lived lives where risks and strangers weren't always fatal.

16 Re: Re-hashing horse thoughts. on Tue Sep 04, 2012 11:34 am

Hillbilly

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I'm getting the sense there's some finger pointing going on here.

17 Re: Re-hashing horse thoughts. on Wed Sep 05, 2012 8:51 am

CynthiaM

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Hillbilly wrote:Cynthia, that's a long bridge!

Funny you should mention bridge crossings, as next weekend, we are doing a ride across the historic kinsol trestle in the cowichan valley. At 145 ft high, and 614 ft long, it is one of the. Largest trestles in the world.

Oh no!! I feel sick to my stomach. You MUST be kidding, you are not really going to cross over the old train trestle on horses, really? You are freakin' nuts if you do. What if? Well, what if? I could not even begin to think to walk across that myself, let alone do it on horseback. Pleeeeeze, tell me you are kidding....if you are not kidding, lawdy, I hope will tell us a tale when all is said and done, sigh....

The Patulo bridge is pretty long, but back in the early 60s, there surely was not the traffic there is in these days, and much slower moving too. I still cringe when I think about it though, ich....now I'm feeling even more sick about you crossing that trestle on horseback, please tell me you were telling a tall tale!!

I recall when we got our first horse, Sister and I shared a horse before we got each our own, my poor Father walking the beast all the way from Surrey to our home in Burnaby. Over the Patula Bridge, all the way through New Westminster, down the old Brunette Creek rickety Road, through the bush to our home. Yes, probably a long walk, well into the night, to bring this fellow to me and Sista. He must have been a very tired man by the time he got home, that was dedication, such a Pappa we had for us children. Beautiful days to us all, CynthiaM.

18 Re: Re-hashing horse thoughts. on Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:22 am

heda gobbler

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Why didn't he ride the horse?

http://www.tatlayokofold.com

19 Re: Re-hashing horse thoughts. on Thu Sep 06, 2012 8:49 pm

Hillbilly

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The ride is being hosted by the Back Country Horsemen of BC in support of VISTA - the Vancouver island spine trail association. ( their goal is to create a 700km non motorized trail from the northern tip of Vancouver island to the southern tip).

The Kinsol trestle was reopened in July of last year after extensive work to get it useable to foot and equestrian traffic as part of the Trans Canada Trail. There are no longer spaces in the footing now. Large, high railings run the length of the trestle.
(Unlike the Pattullo bridge, there are no cars!) LOL.

We are walking our horses across, and continuing north along the Trail. Those that aren't comfortable, are meeting us on the other side of the trestle.

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