Friday, February 26, 2010

Where to begin?

This video made me frustrated and sad -- for the horse and the rider. Watching the gradual decline of this partnership, you can count the signs pointing to a bad ending...

This girl really needed some honest advice when she had this horse. I admire her dedication, and the Parelli segment is touching. But my goodness, thoroughbreds aren't especially easy and sometimes you just need *help*, in this case in form of rider education and skills development.

Oh, and hey, RENOWNED TRAINER -- ever think of wearing a HELMET? To set an EXAMPLE?


  1. That is a sad story. It's good the mare is at a stable that agrees with her now. That poor woman. I must admit, I would have sent the mare away much earlier, for re-training at least. Some people are content with horses-as-pets, but this woman clearly wanted a horse to ride and show. Maybe her next horse will be an older almost-retired campaigner.

    Another horse blog I read had a story about her pony, who had been dead quiet and then started to bolt and charge. After some months of bad behavior, she talked to one of the barn girls who mentioned her pony's neighbor was anti-social and picked fights all day and all night long. Her poor pony never slept. They moved the offender, and the pony went back to being quiet and well-behaved. Behavior changes can be caused by anything, rider or some other factor.

  2. Oh that is sad - clearly the ex-owner loved the horse and the horse had virtue. What do you suppose was the matter?

  3. So sad. That is one responsible woman. She did what was best for her mare, in the end, by letting go. But how hard!

  4. I don't want to bash the girl, but I did notice she cantered on the wrong lead in the early footage. I wondered if she was aware. I never saw any evidence of eyes on the ground to help her. The mare didn't really seem like a nut-case, even when she was misbehaving her behavior wasn't terrifying. I am wondering if maybe there was something about the saddle, or if the girl lost her balance in the saddle (thump thump) -- something to sour the mare or make her sore. Being tall myself, I know that lack of balance on my part causes Harv discomfort. The mare not be tolerant.

  5. What I find really sad about it that the woman seeked all these ways of re-training for the horse rather than herself. The horse looked like a sensitive and well trained one and the ridden footage just says it all. If the rider invested that time into getting herself fitter and addressed her own balance in the saddle the problem might never had gotten so far.
    I think some horses just don't tolerate bad riding and the mares are that little bit "louder" with their disapproval. Spyder had obviously liked her owner otherwise so that should scream the direction of focus for the woman???
    Sorry if that's harsh but I work as a riding instructor and the amount of ignorance and self-dilusion in some horse-owners is just sad and frustrating.

  6. Does anyone else have a problem with Renowned Trainer hitting the horse on the neck and pulling on her mouth?

    Even in the early footage of the "excellent riding" is evidence of an unhappy horse. I agree Stacey, working with a competent trainer from the get-go might have saved this relationship (and the previous one w/the buckskin).

    She seems like a really nice mare who just had had enough.

  7. ah yes Stacey! I too saw the very raw seat that was whalloping the poor mare at the canter, how much was too much? Apparantly 6 months. Kudos to the mare for lasting that long. What a pity though, 4 lunge lessons for the rider could have solved it possibly!

  8. I noticed the wrong lead in the first video too, which then led me to wonder just how well the girl rode.

    Sure does look like something physical bothering the horse. I thought of ulcers, but she said she treated her for them...wonder how long? Might have needed a longer term treatment.

    But, for some reason, the mare didn't want her owner on her back. I'd be so suspicious of a saddle issue or a riding habit issue of some sort.

    I'll give the woman credit for sticking with her for so long. And I am pleased to read that the mare is now just fine with a new owner. Sometimes you just have to give up. I hope this woman found a good horse for herself and I hope the gray mare continues to be well cared for and appreciated.

    Sad story indeed. But happy at the same time to see someone so absolutely dedicated to a horse.

  9. I cannot see the video. Can someone please post the link?

  10. I got the impression that a.) girl was not under a trainer's supervision, b.) mare was in pain SOMEWHERE, and c.) mare had the girl's number. That was NOT a dumb horse...

    Also, she was really long in the back, if anybody noticed...And I used to know a long in the back TB who had a really weak loin connection. If he wasn't in constant, BALANCED work, he hurt. And this was a 4 year old, OTTB.

    Poor mare, poor girl; I hope that she's gotten herself a horse that she can understand and that understands her.


  11. I'm with you Stacey -- from what information is provided in the video, my guess is the mare associated discomfort of some kind when her owner was in the saddle.

    Since the horse performed as desired for the "renowned trainer" and the people at the new barn, that would seem to rule out a physical problem with the horse.

    Watching the trainer experience problems before finishing with a nice ride -- it appears that the mare anticipated pain/discomfort/something unpleasant before she realized that that would not be the case with the trainer in the irons.

    This gal needs consistent work with a trainer to assess her riding ability and help her improve her skills. The video raised a lot of questions for me that she doesn't address. At least she realized the mare was better off at the new location, and I hope she seeks capable professional help if she pursues dressage.

  12. The woman obviously loved the horse and tried to do everything she could to make the mare's life better; but the mare clearly wasn't able to relax and use her back muscles properly as evidenced by her nose in the air, lack of contact frame. That's a pain posture in my book.

    I hope this doesn't come off as too harsh because that's not my intent; but I do think we all (thin or heavier) need to work on balance, core strength and general fitness. The owner just didn't look fit to me, and her core strength needed work based on what I could see of her balance and seat.

    I agree with the person who said a few lunge lessons would have done a lot to help the owner. I'm currently doing a series of lunge lessons with my trainer, and I can't believe how much they are helping me. In addition, I'm working on improving my core strength and stability, and I'm trying to slim by 10 pounds. It may not seem like a lot, but even since I've lost a few pounds, my horse is more able to relax and work in a slightly more relaxed and connected frame. It's amazing how the subtle changes can make a huge difference!

    There are a bevy of riders at the barn I'm currently boarding at who don't take lessons, and most of them are having trouble with their horses. I want to shake them and say "take a'll be amazed." Even one a month can make a huge difference. I feel like USEF needs to start a new marketing campaign with the slogan "Have you had your lesson today?" Seriously, if you're a beginner and you're going to spend the money to own a horse, spend the money to be in some kind of lesson program! (End rant.)

  13. I don't mean to come off hard and insensitive, but why didn't she try losing weight. The mare probably got sick of lugging her big butt around and rebelled. When a horse refuses like that, something is bothering them. It's our job to figure it out. It seems clear to me the rider was hurting her back.

  14. Weight alone doesn't suggest poor or good riding to me (although I think how you carry weight will affect how hard it is to balance). I think this may have just been the wrong combination of inexperience in riding, no training/help, and perhaps a mare with physical issues aggravated by saddle or riding style.

  15. The mare has a dominant personality. It would be interesting to know where she stands in a pecking order. . .but after watching this video, I would put all my money on her as numero uno. She swishes her tail a lot--both in the beginning and ending of this video. I think she tolerated the girl's riding when it was all new to her, as she had just come from being a broodmare and probably hadn't been ridden much. But because she's obvious very sensitive, and very dominant. . .I think she got to point where she had just "had it." BAD RIDING can be PAINFUL!
    She's a smart cookie with an active mind, and she figured out how to intimidate her owner into getting off her back. If there was a physical and/or mental cause to the horse's behavior, she would have displayed it in other areas of work as well. But the key thing here is that she didn't. She excelled at ground-driving & Parelli games. Obviously, her behavior was caused by POOR RIDING.
    And the RENOWNED TRAINER? What a joke! He was riding & handling her horribly from the start. . .and even when he bullied the poor horse into going forward in the trot and canter, she looked completely pissed off. And rightly so!

  16. " was painfully obvious that this woman needed professional help long before the "renowned trainer" stepped in! A rider's weight becomes a negative when he/she is inexperienced and has not logged enough time in the saddle (and with an instructor!). Alternatively, a heavy rider can be an asset to their horse if they have a soft seat, soft hands, etc. And, while it makes sense to be physically fit, without the ability to control one's body, a horse can begin to experience both emotional and physical issues as a result and....maybe that's what happened. On a positive note, it was evident that this woman loved the horse as she tried various methods to find the root of the mare's discomfort. However, it didn't appear as if she had someone, maybe an equestrian friend, that could have guided her to pro help for herself a little earlier."

  17. From the start the riding was extremely poor. The girl just didn't realize it because she was so inexperienced. The horse just got spoiled, that's all. The 'renown' trainer didn't really look very good, the girl never knuckled down and got riding lessons...what do you expect as a result? Overweight makes it harder to ride dressage - more mass and momentum to control and it makes leg aids and seat aids less effective.

  18. Signs your horse needs chiropractic care, taken from Bits and Bytes Farm's website (a site dedicated to off the track Thoroughbreds):

    Does your horse buck when you ride him? I am not talking about a head down between the legs - get off me rodeo buck. Does he buck up like a hop with both legs and then kick out to the side with one of the legs? This is classic of a horse whose hips are locked in extension. The muscles right behind the saddle become sore and can be painful. Imagine the horse has a sore back and the rider chooses to do a sitting trot! Ouch! - Buck, butt scoot.

    That sure is what it looks like to me IMHO.

  19. I was wondering about the wrong lead at the beginning, too. Since she was going on and on about how her horse was progressing so well at lower-level dressage and was going to be this wonderful show horse, I'm guessing she was delibaretly trying a counter-canter. o.O

    From the few video segments, I get the impression that she knows nothing about dressage and isn't the most competent rider or horse person. I don't think she's absolutely awful, either, but definitely someone who needs a horse who is a schoolmaster, not a greenie.
    I'd also say a combination of different factors led to this whole situation. She definitely should have just had a trainer to help her on a regular basis.

    As for "renowned trainer": I also didn't like the smacking of the neck that much. What was that supposed to accomplish?
    I also definitely would not have gotten on a horse that I'm supposed to cure of bucking and rearing under saddle, without a helmet on.
    At first I wasn't so excited about his approach either, even though it seemed to work.
    It seemed like he was asking too much of her. I would have probably lunged her with a rider first, with the handler on the ground working on getting her forward and the rider remaining passive.

  20. I'm not so sure about the "lungeing the rider" suggestion, at least for this horse. She needs a percheron for lungeing and work without stirrups (we all do!) not that sensitive mare. If that was a counter-canter it was not well-executed. Wrong leads are no big deal but you have to correct it and go on the right lead.

  21. The multiple circles of incorrect lead and tight trot in the beginning conflicted with her six months of "excellent riding". But let's not forget how many of us do not have regular access to a professional trainer. I think this contributes to the popularity of the Parelli system.

    Every rider, at the very least, needs eyes on the ground. The more experienced the ground person the better, but even a nonhorsey person can give objective feedback to the rider. Pictures and video are another way for the rider to observe and reflect on their own work. No matter the rider's level, a compassionate trainer is needed even if the visits are intermittent. Sometimes what we feel is not necessarily correct. We must train ourselves to learn what correct feels like even if it feels strange or unnatural at first.

    Although I agree that it is important for the rider to be in good health and this includes weight, a very unbalanced lightweight rider may be more difficult for a horse to carry than a balanced, heavier rider. These words belong to Centered Riding Instructor Susan Harris, a graceful rider, gifted teacher and artist.

  22. Not even going to watch...don't want to see sad...there's too much of it in the horse world. Keep us entertained and educated with positive stuff. I am writing the same thing to my newspaper about their deplorable comic pages, that have alcoholism, monsters, PTSD, and anti-military sentiments. Even my kids are depressed by it. AND there's a puppy mill/dog fighting ad on our radio station currently that I can't even listen to. Sorry to rant. Usually love the blog.

  23. From the get go, it was painful for me to watch that rider on the horse. I know it is politically incorrect to say anything about people being overweight, but that rider was too big for the horse. The horse was going around in a hollow frame. People don't realize the horses's backs are really not made to carry. I agree she should have tried to loose weight. The renowned trainer was a big guy also. The horse was long in the back. I think the mare was defending herself. Just taking lessons wouldn't have helped. I don't see her as a dominant mare. I see her as someone trying to get away from a source of terrible pain. Flame suit on.

  24. Stacey...sorry about the confusion re: lunging. Not on that mare, on a solid schol horse of good weight and bone. Trying to lunge her on a horse that had had enough would be quite counte-productive and likely dangerous!!

  25. What a sad video, and how interesting to read everyone's assessments! Although I love horses, I don't ride and am fascinated, reading the insight about the horse's body language, and the girl's need for training and core strength. A lot goes into riding properly that I never knew about. And I never realized how much a person's ability to ride correctly can affect a horse's physical and mental health. Wow.

  26. Val, to your last paragraph -- AMEN!

    Netherfield mom, it's not puppy-mill sad, it's just a horse/rider partnership that didn't work out.

    No one would accuse me of being an optimist :-); I want to see things as they are. HOWEVER I don't care to wallow in it, which is what some of the puppy mill and animal abuse commercials do. This blog post doesn't come anywhere near that level. You'll enjoy tonights post, I promise!!!

  27. "If that was a counter-canter it was not well-executed"
    To say the least. If that really was what she was trying to attempt, it was a bad idea. The horse wasn't nearly balanced enough.
    I don't think she actually knows anything about dressage … The horse doesn't have any sort of training foundation.

    My "lungeing the rider" suggestion was aimed more at the rehab of the horse, not so much at her. I agree that she definitely should not have gotten back on her, and tried to get her used to the leg again.

    I'm not trying to pick on this girl, but I watched some of her other videos and I think she has a very warped view of what her own abilities are. I also think she doesn't actually know much about the the riding disciplines she's trying to get into. I've seen that in plenty of other riders before, and it just makes me remind myself, that I should always continue to take lessons, no matter how long I've been riding.

  28. "I don't mean to come off hard and insensitive, but why didn't she try losing weight. The mare probably got sick of lugging her big butt around and rebelled".

    "I know it is politically incorrect to say anything about people being overweight, but that rider was too big for the horse".

    Disclaimers don't give a "pass" to not be held responsible for what you are saying. If anything, it just aggravates readers more when the writer is trying to weasel out of the responsibility for speaking their mind.

    If you have a controversial but justifiable view pot just state the view clearly but simply.

    "I believe the rider is too heavy for her horse because 1) blah blah blah 2) blah blah blah 3) blah blah blah.

    I think she needs more training because 1) blah blah blah 2) blah blah blah 3) blah blah blah.

    She needs more core strength because 1) blah blah blah 2) blah blah blah 3) blah blah blah.

    Writers need to state what they believe clearly and without resort to weasel words or reasoning, name calling, bashing, or unsupported or internally illogical ideas.

    This drives me nuts when my students pull this in their opinion essays.

  29. Mine weren't weasel words. I stated it pretty plainly that she was too heavy for the horse. And yes, it is politically incorrect to say anything about a person's weight. Please, we aren't one of your students. I'm 57 years old.


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