When did leaving welts on our horses from spurs and whips become ok? When was cutting a horse’s mouth with a sharp bit not concerning anymore?
Unintentionally or not, where did we go wrong? Is causing pain to our horses overlooked now or is it seen as a part of training?
We are told, horses should want to work and enjoy it! Yet, here we are replacing that willingness with exhaustion, sore mouths and welted ribs.
Horses let us be apart of their lives, yet, we forget how special that actually is. A creature that becomes so submissive, we can literally beat them one day and the next, demand more? And crazy enough, they forgive us and they let us try again.
When did we lose sight of the incredible partnership horses allow us to have?
These creatures work under us, just to please us. They will do pretty much anything we ask. They allow us to force them around with overpowering tools; tools which we often take advantage of.
After thinking about it more, my mind went to elephants. They are massive, yet, so willing to do what humans ask of them. They can get broken down just the same. After forceful tactics, they become so obedient and will even do things bad for their health. Like, take multiple baths a day for tourist experience and pleasure. I see horses in that scenario. With each forceful demand, we are breaking their spirit. With every “lick of the whip” and every angry kick with spurs, we are slowly turning them into unspirited, submissive animals that lose their excitement to work. In some cases, refuse to work anymore.
I ask, Where did we go wrong in Horsemanship?
When was it acceptable to not acknowledge our own weaknesses as horse riders or trainers?
Do you think a sharp mouthpiece is going to solve your problems? In most cases, in order to fix your problems, you have to fix yourself. No mouthpiece is going to do that for you.
I read that horses don’t become hard-mouthed, or less sensitive, they just literally accept the pain easier! Read that again and think about it for a moment. They accept more pain and continue on, confused what you’re asking but accepting what you’re doing.. and it’s not for a lack of try.
Think back to basic horsemanship. Cues are what we use to communicate with our horses. If your horse starts to accept more pain, ie. taking more pulling on the mouth with less results, you have gaps! There are cues missing. It’s our jobs as riders to develop the cues we need to perform a certain task, whatever discipline it may be.
We’re not perfect, we all make mistake. But when did we feel we aren’t the ones accountable?
How did we lose sight of the big picture?
Where did we go wrong?
Full Disclaimer: I am guilty of this. This rant is brought to you by the aftermath of a bad ride and poor judgement on my part. I worked my young horse and should have ended on the good note we had, instead, I continued on. Which made it get worse and worse. My horse got worked way past the point I typically allow and all said and done, I accomplished nothing. I was ashamed after. I felt awful and I realized the mistake I made and told myself it will never happen again.
We are not perfect and we all make mistakes. We are continuously learning from our past problems we face and overcome. Horses are the greatest teachers. We get lessons by them all the time and in order for us to learn, we put them through things we shouldn’t. Of course, you realize that after the lesson has been learned.
All I ask is to appreciate and see you first, then the horse. Work on you and all your horses in your life now and later will thank you.