11 September 2008

Listen to your Horse

As a species we humans are so good at talking, but how often do we really listen to each other let alone our horses. We all know someone who has said "my partner never listens to me" or "so and so doesn't understand me".

You would not believe how many times I've heard the phrase "my horse ??????? for no reason at all". When ever I hear this I have to stop my self from laughing out loud or rolling my eyes, neither of which are good for business.

Horses are 're-actionary', they react to events around them, generally by running away (spooking), fighting us (kicking, biting etc) or in our eyes misbehaving (bucking, spinning etc), they don't process a thought with all it's variables and consequences as we humans can.

If a horse spooks it's because it's instincts have kicked in and gone into survival mode. If a horse fights (as described above) it is generally either in pain or discomfort and gone into survival mode. If a horse 'misbehaves' (as described above) it is again generally in pain or discomfort and gone into survival mode.

If a horse spooks he/she is saying to you in the only way they can "I'm not a hundred percent confident in your ability to see me through this situation".

If a horse fights you he/she is saying to you in the only way they can "that is uncomfortable or painful please stop it now". Be aware that horses often react to 'remembered' pain or discomfort. The cause of pain or discomfort might have been taken away but the horse has now learned to expect pain or discomfort in a similar situation.

If a horse misbehaves he/she is saying to you in the only way they can "now look, I've been telling you for weeks I'm not happy about ????? and you haven't listened, maybe you'll listen to me now".

I cringe whenever I see a horse tacked up and fitted with a flash or restrictive gadget because I know at some point in the future there is going to be an issue. If I ask the owner/rider why the flash I'm usually told their mouth is open, or tongue over the bit etc. More often than not I get a blank look when I ask why their horse is doing that. If a horse has his/her mouth open they are saying "I'm uncomfortable in some way", by fitting a flash or gadget of some sort all this does is take that line of communication away from the horse and he/she will need to find another way of expressing themselves, usually by napping. A better course of action would be to eliminate the cause rather than the symptom.

As horse owners we have taken on the responsibility for their welfare and well being, we should learn to listen when they speak to us and not wait for them to shout.


Anonymous said...

I have seen horses tacked up with all manner of gadgets, and sometimes the owner has no idea what the gadget is for .... the horse came to them with 'this bit' or 'that noseband' and they just continue to use it. I have also heard people say they use a particular gadget 'because it looks good' ... sigh .... and our equine friends are expected to behave themselves perfectly while being tortured through ignorance or fashion.

Mrs Mom said...

Found your blog today, and wanted to say how wonderful it is to see someone else thinking along the same lines we have been for years.

I plan on being a frequent visitor here!

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading your blog, i just got my first horse and really don't know much, except how to groom her and put her saddle and bridle on, I could n't figure out any of the gadgets if I tried. I think if I wouldn't want ot wear it then I shouldn't use it on my horse. I look forward to many more posts.