Winner of the Betty's Utility Room 2006 Loverman Award
Friday, November 09, 2007
Hey, hey, hey, who's running this deal!
Our stallion Fergus, with his son and apprentice, James.
After having been in the US for a month and watched how they keep their horses, being concerned in the way we are about the environment we keep them in and so on, does make me wonder if we maybe sometimes go a bit over the top. A horse property in the mid-west is any house with enough room in the garden for a small pen to keep horses in. It is a common sight to see several horses penned together in 30' to 40' corals. Feeding is bunging them cakes of hay twice a day. It is quite rare to actually see horses out in fields.
The whole attitude towards the horses is quite different here in the UK. In the US the working culture is still very present in the way the horses are looked after, even though nowadays there isn't so much real horsework being done. Get your horse, go do your work, put him back; and when the horse can no longer do the job, move him on. This really shows up in the horsemanship too. So there's a problem with your horse, well sort it out. Your horse won't stand still, well, don't go around the houses, don't have loads of theories, just tell the horse to stand still. One of the best things I heard said was when a horse just walked off with his rider, the rider just said, 'hey hey hey, who's running this deal'. He pulled the horse up and it was absolutely clear, absolutely no doubt what was wanted, the thought in the horse was changed, the timing was perfect, and the horse just got on with it. It was exactly what a kid would have done, or what happens in most yards, except in this case the timing and understanding from the rider was perfect and so the horse understood.
So when I got home and went around the stock, I was really conscious of all the things we do to make things as natural as we can for our horses. I was really questioning how important it all is. We keep our stallion with his herd, and we keep our herds mixed age. We are obsessed with grass and space, and to be honest all our horses are too fat. If we have to keep a horse on box rest it is a huge stressful event, but in the US that's just how it is for loads of horses. Quite a lot of horses are left penned up all day in the blazing sun, they go hours with nothing to eat. I heard one girl from the UK say 'My God, if I kept my horse like this she would go mad' - some of mine too, I thought.
So what am I saying - well as usual, nothing much. Just that I am fascinated by the different attitudes. If you watch the rodeo you can see that the attitude there is 'these animals are here for us to use'. In the UK it's swung around to 'these animals have rights, they are equal to us', or even 'oh horse, let me be your servant'. I am not making any judgements here OK, just writing.
Born a Roman Catholic but could'nt run with it. Caught the 60s just right - loved every minute of it. Sadly I was not so good at 'free love'.
I have been fortunate enough not to have had a career but when I was thirteen I did have a careers interview. They told me I should go into Forestry. I worked at CBS records for twelve weeks when I was nineteen (as a packer), but since then I have been quite successful in avoiding work. NB. My definition of work is having to do something for money that has no relevance to me and that I don't want to do.