Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Rocky Mountain Horse

Today I did a second session with Erica's Rocky Mountain horse. The horse is a five year old in foal mare that Erica has imported from the USA. When the mare arrived in England, she proved to be a bit more of a handful than Erica had expected.

I've kind of stopped going out to help people with their horses, mainly because it's not the horses that need help, it's the people. It is an absolute prerequisite to me working with someone that they have to know and accept that it is them that needs to change. Somehow, over the years we have managed to successfully shift the responsibility of the deal between us and the horse, right back onto the horse. I never want to hear ever again that you have a 'bad horse', or a 'naughty horse', or it's trying to evade you, or it's 'cheeky', or some other such nonsense.

So working with Erica's horse, firstly last week, when it seemed like the mare had no idea of the concept of work, to this week when within a minute ot two she was showing me that she was more than happy to work - well, for me it was a joy. But what I want to say is this. That horse is from a working breed, and there is another horse in the same yard from Argentina that is also from a working horse background, and boy does it show. Somehow in this country, over the years we have managed to lose so much of that sweet work ethic in our horses. And perhaps even more of a concern, we have managed to lose it in our horsemanship too.

It's simple stuff, this horsemanship, and do you know what - there are a few too many people out there making it far too complicated. Sounds familiar doesn't it.


  1. it's only simple Tom if you know what you're doing - it's knowing 'how to' and 'what to' change (in one's self) that's the difficulty - and it's not simple or easy.

    that's a beautiful horse.

    and here's wishing you and yours a very happy xmas and new year!

  2. Ziggi, if you would like to discuss this here, I am more than happy too, ok.
    When I pitched up at Erica's it was chaos - within no time we had begun the job of establishing some order. Nothing we did was in any way complicated or needed special skills.
    There is a paradigm which pretty much works with every horse (unless they are badly damaged mentally in some way - this is very rare). The first job we did with the horse was show her that we moved her and that she didn't move us. That's the level I work on - I am not some clever guy who has worked out some amazing theory - I am doing it like good working horsemen since time begun have done it. No fancy stuff to sell here, I promise.

  3. Just dropping by to wish you a good Christmas, Tommykins babe (or whatever it is you're supposed to say around here).

  4. thank you ziggi for your compliment about amigo's blue angel, barn name angel. that's her in kentucky when she was in the paddock being bred to the stallion at the end of august. she arrived in october. she only turned four in July - she'll be barely five when she has the foal. it was a bit hard on her to breed her on top of everything else she's had to go through but it was some insurance for me given the cost of importing the horse.

    i chose this breed because i wanted the 'perfect' horse for keeping naturally and trail riding - a co-operative horse that is sound and hardy. I reckon in the UK we have bred horses for stupid purposes like competition instead of versatility and disposition, soundness and the like. she is also gaited and this is something we bred out of our horses a few centuries back.

    I have ridden for many years but no-one ever taught me how to lead a horse, except to say hold the reins under the chin in case there's a problem. now i am going to train angel to go in a bitless bridle instead of the six-inch shank bit she's used to. she and I are going to 'start over' but i gave myself a big head start by choosing a breed that is amenable, intelligent, and brave.

    thanks Tom for being patient in showing me how!

  5. Get them all back down the pits, that's what I say! (only really quietly under my breath when my horses aren't listening though...)

  6. Tommy dear, I love it that you're a horse whisperer. smooch!

  7. Hairy Crizzmoose Mr Horse Whisperer.
    So you actually fix people?

  8. Merry Christmas, Tom. I have been out today and walked with the horses. I never knew what gaited meant, had to look it up. That's a fine animal, btw.

  9. I know what you mean about the work ethic thing. Bullet the horse is learning to pull a tyre as stage one in her transformation into harrowing machine. She's done a bit of this before, but it's new to me. What's also new is having an actual purpose to owning a horse, rather than just milling about on her back. It's given our training sessions a real sense of oomph, and we just get on with it. Nice one.

    Erica - your horse looks lovely.

  10. from my favorite cherry pie, i find your blog and love this post.
    i know little about horses but i can tell you love and respect them.

  11. The question becomes: What meaningful jobs can we give our horses?

    That has been one of the thoughts I've been having since you talked about this at the clinic I was at and it looks like taking pony and I in some quite interesting directions.

  12. KJ thank you for visiting my blog. You are always welcome.

    Glenatron - hope to see you this year somewhere, where we can talk horses and all the rest of it too.

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