Friday, March 26, 2010

The Natural Horsemanship Debate

There is a great divide amongst horse people that rivals the Healtcare Debate in the US. And that is the debate of whether or not Natuaral Horsemanship is better than the common sense horsemanship that is taught by Non-Natural Horsemanship trainers. Does the common sense horsemanship work better?

In this trainers opinion yes it does. At least, common sense trainers do not sell you a bunch of products that will supposedly make your horse listen to you. Take for instance the 'Carrot Stick'. Truth be known, the carrot stick is nothing more than a long bat. Not a whip, a bat, there is a difference!

Yet people buy the Carrot Stick by the dozens and the they wave it at their horses like an orange magic wanded Harry Potter and expect the problems to magically go away.

Here is the link to a video of Linda Parelli that you need to watch if you have not seen it already. I want you to watch before you read on and form your opinion of what is happening, then make your comments from there.

Linda Parelli in action

About 10 years ago, I took a horse in training for a woman that was having a hard time with her horse throwing his head up and backing up when she tried to catch him. Then, when she was finally able to catch the horse, and tack him up, he would throw his head when she tried to bridle him. So I went to her place to watch what she was doing.

At that time I was unfamiliar with Parelli and his methods and the woman who owned the horse told me the she has been using the methods that she saw him use at a clinic. I of course, being the forthright honest individual that I am told her that the methods that she had learned were not working obviously.

I watched her catch the horse and sure enough he threw his head and backed up and soon as she approcahed him with the halter. When she finally managed to wrangle her four legged friend and get a halter on him. He started to try to walk all over her,so she started to waggle the lead rope at him to get him to back off of her. When she waggled the lead rope at him, the horse would back up. But me being the astute observationalist, noticed that the snap would rattle every time she would waggle the lead rope at her fine steed.

I told the woman, that the problem is not the horse, but the methods that she employed to train the horse. Every time she approached the horse, the lead rope would rattle and the horse would back up as he was conditioned to do. The head throwing was as a result of the lead rope being waved at the horse. Her bridle, had snaps on the end of the reins and they would rattle,so her horse would throw is head and back when she tried to bridle her horse.

The fix, well that was simple as well, she took the snaps off of her reins, and attached the lead to the halter without using a snap. It took a few sessions, but the horse finally quit his vices. I went out there once and charged her a one hour evaluation fee, figured out the problem, and she was able to fix it on her own. I ended up starting a few horses for her later on and she never went to a Parelli clinic again.

Am I that good? I suppose you would have to ask my clients.

I watched that video, and I have to say, that set the natural horsemanship back to the stone age. Linda Parelli is terrorizing that horse for no reason what so ever. It really is not that difficult to get a horse to respond to you without all of the fanfare. Would I have gotten after that horse?

Absolutely, but I would have only gotten after him once and that would be the end of it. The horse was obviously reacting to Linda Parelli and her jerking him into oblivion more that anything else. So in reality, it was Linda's fault that the horse was reacting the way that he was. The horse is trying to figure out what she wants, and that is quite a feat, as Linda does not know what she wants from this horse. If she had let the horse stand for a minute then start all over she would have had better results.

I have had a lot of horses come into the barn that have been Parellized, and they all act the same way. They have no idea of what you want from them. Once they figure it out, it is pretty easy from there.

I know, but JR, you have not seen the whole video and what was really going on. I saw enough to know who the problem was there. It started when the horses owner was being told to " wiggle, wiggle thump" and continued to go down hill from there.

Linda terrorized this horse and got nowhere with him because it was apparent that she had no clue as to what to do.

Just because a clinician shows up in chaps and is wearing spurs, that does not make them a horseman. I had clients that would wear breeches at a show so people would think they knew what they were doing. There again, it is not your outfit that makes you a horseman.

My personal opinion, is that the majority of these people are frauds. They tell you what you want to hear and promise to fix every bad vice that your horse has permanently. When the truth of the matter is, these old vices will resurface no matter who the trainer is. It is the trainers job to teach the owners how to deal with the problem when it arises in the future and not charge the owner an arm and a leg for cheap products that can sometimes make the problems worse.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Realities of the Arabian Halter Horse Industry

I do realize that this topic has already been over done, but I do feel the strong need to discuss it.

As I have said in the past, I started in the Quarter Horses as a kid and for me it was showmanship, reining, cutting and western pleasure. As I graduated High School in 1981, I wanted to pursue my dream of becoming a horse trainer. The guy I was starting colts for in Tucson introduced me to the Arabian horse and told me that he could get me a job at Al Marah Arabians in Tucson. I had been to a couple of Arabian Horse shows and was amazed at all of the glitter and glamour and the horses.So I got my job ans worked in the Arabian horse industry for about 10 years, always working with Quarter on the side. Over the years my view of the Arabian horse illusion changed as I saw the ugly side.

Enough about me!

I remember back in the 80's I was schooling a few Halter horses for an Arab trainer that I was working for. When the horse would not 'show' to his satisfaction he told me to take the whip and sting the horses shins. I refused and soon lost my position as halter guru in that barn. I had asked one of the halter trainers why they always put the whip across the horses shins, and she told me that is so there is no welts when the horse goes into the ring. I will always remember seeing the grooms put alcohol on the horses welts to try to get the welts to go down before they go into the ring. That was the last Arab barn I ever worked in.

The cold hard realities of the Arabian Halter horses, is that there is whip abuse that does go on and eventually the horses will let loose. It is hard to feel for the people that perpetuate the abuse, though I hate to see anyone, horse or man, get hurt because of their own stupidity.

A year before that, I was attacked by an Arabian stallion that had been abused as a colt so that he would show better as a halter horse. A few years prior to that same horse attacking me, he bit the owner in the face in the show ring as the owner was standing him up in front of the judge.

So lets move forward about 25 years and nothing has changed. Apparently a trainer was attacked in the show ring and the horse won that one.

When are these idiots going to learn that you can not keep whipping a horse into submission. They will go off and it is only a matter of time before they do.

I have been handling stallions for the better part of my life and with the exception of a few incidents with other peoples stallions, I never had a problem. Our stallions are gentlemen and they are expected to act that way at all times. But we never have to whip them nor do we ever lead them with chains on. Whips and chains are over used and abused as well as the horses that they are used on.

Has the Arabian Horse Industry now taken another negative hit. Yes they have, and that is largely due to the continued methods that they use to train the horses.

The same goes for the way that they train their performance horses. They over use spurs, bats, and continually bump the horses faces to get them to set their heads. I watched an Arab trainer on the RFD channel talking about the horses that he was training and it was all about the horses headset. Never about asking the horses to move laterally and there was never any mention of softening his young horses.

At the Snobsdale show this year, I was watching the reiners warm up, and there again it was all about the horses head. They never left the horses faces alone. Drove me nuts!

It is unfortunate that this is spilling over into all of the breed shows.

I do know that nothing will ever change unless we force change or unless we get these people to use a common sense approach to training, but we have to remember that to them it is all about the glamour, the glitter, a trophy and a ribbon. And it is not just the trainers, the owners share the responsibility as well.

I do know how hard it can be to rehab a horse that has had his mind blown by bad training methods as I had earned a living doing it. I also know that those horses can and will hurt you. And just because we call them domesticated livestock, that does not mean that their survival instinct will not kick in.