Thursday, July 9, 2009

Contest: If you could change one thing...

Ok so I have been mentioning a contest, I have finally got around to posting it. It's 1am lol!
So I have been thinking about this for a long time. If I could change one thing about the horse world what would I change?

I really did not have to think hard about this one.
Being a student of equine science in University I have learnt a great deal about the anatomy, nutrition, genetics, behavioral, growth and many other topics on the horse. It's brought me a great insight on things that us horse people do that may seem kind, but are actually harmful to the horse. Not necessarily physically harmful but denying the horses right to be a horse. See the 5 freedoms. We often stall a horse for periods of time and sometimes its necessary. Most of the time it's a convenience for us. We like to know our horses are safe and not getting nicked up, keeping clean or escaping in the night.
It's proven that horses in training, regardless of age exhibit less behavioral problems when they are out 24/7 with other horses than when they are stalled, even for a few hours. I would believe it, that is why horses I train are out 24/7 when they are with me. I like a horse to be a horse. They are gonna get kicked and cut and scraped but thats ok.
My instructor said to me the other day "Horses have evolved to heal, if only allowed natural circumstances. One year of turn-out cures most lamenesses fully and inexpensively. Two years cures anything, they say. This most successful of all treatments is called "giving the horse the gate" Pasture rest cures horses. Stall rest is often counterproductive, not to mention beahviourally inappropriate." -Dr.Sid Gustafson. Took the words right out of the horses mouth.

Basically what I am getting at is there has been a lot of big changes in horsemanship, especially in the last 5-10 years. People are reading up and studying equine behaviour instead of just "getting on them and riding the bucks out". People let their horses be horses. They strive to understand them, give them as natural care as possible. It's wonderful. My horses are outside 24/7. People comment all the time on how unflappable and mostly calm they are on trails or at events. I do not put so much on my training abilities so much as letting them be horses and getting lots of the 5 freedoms. I am pointing out specifically #3 in this case. This is what I would change.

"Freedom from pain, injury and disease- By rapid diagnosis, prevention or treatment. "

My horses are bitless as you might have noticed because the URL and name of my blog says so. Why did I go bitless? Well although my horses were wonderfully responsive to bits and never had problems going around in a flexible rubber Mullen mouth snaffle, possibly one of the "kindest" bit's, I wanted something more for them. I wanted to upgrade my equitation and my horses training and prove to myself and them that pain did not have to be part of our relationship.
I went bitless. At first it was a little bumpy. I got criticized constantly, you need a bit in that horses mouth, he is gonna run away with you, wait until you gallop, something spooks your horse she is gonna be unstoppable, your crazy, the horse only listens because hes a good horse, he only listens because you had him since a baby, it's never gonna work, bit, bit, bit, bit, bigger bit, more bit, BITS! I hated them at that point. Why should I stick a piece of non flexible steel in a sensitive part of my horses body that has more nerve endings and soft, malleable (not to mention damageable) tissue than any other part of his or her body? I shouldn't. My professors backed my research on bits and the harmful effects of them 100%. They were surprised themselves and even took the leap to bitless.
Of course this is my dream. I've trained more quiet horses without the bit than with. Some were green as green, others old timers with some supposedly "ingrained" bad and dangerous habits that were fixed within the first dozen rides being bitless. Others were like my poor old mare Naigen that had a medical problem that was not recognized until a bit was placed in her mouth. I try not to imagine the pain she was in just trying to breathe and hold a bit at the same time.

So what would I change about the horse world. Just one thing. Well I would make it so bits were not allowed. Make it so those so stuck on the bit had to do training to achieve the control they have with pain and a bit. I hope in my lifetime bits will become a thing of the past. After all bits were created and refined when Ghengas Kan was a ruler and the world was believed to be flat.
Today it's round and today I am bitless. My horses are happy. I do not need a bit to control any horse I ride or train. Today is my day because if I can make a difference in just one horses relationship with humans without a bit to do it. I have climbed another mountain. Maybe one day I'll be on the Mt.Everest of bitless. I can only hope some bitless horse is there to guide me along the way.

So that is what I would change.

This contest I want to know what you would change, if you could change just one thing about the horse world.
Maybe you would make it illegal to run a stable without taking a training course.
No slaughter all together.
No shoes.
No harmful things such as soaring

If you don't have a horse or are not connected to the horse population what would you change about the world in general.

Please post here, or if your post is too long to put as a comment post it on your blog and link me.
Oh, btw you don't have to have a blog to participate in this one. E-mail is fine.
Leave me a way to contact you in your comment. I'll be using a random generator to pick the winner.

Of course a contest would not be complete without prizes:
A nylon nurtural bridle(minus reins), your choice of size in either black or brown (see site link below for pictures of brown nylon)
(Images property of nurtural horse)

Another prize is a hand made dream catcher, made by me. What will I be making this dream catcher of? Well out of an old horse shoe of course! They are wonderful. I've been putting dream catchers in the fair for 15 years now and not even once has mine had a second place ribbon. This one pictured was a christmas present for a friend of her passed pony. I found his mane hair on the paddock fence. She bawled when I gave it to her. I am glad I could preserve her lovely companion. I have a lot of Canadian goose feathers I have painted various subjects on. They will be part of it and if you have a horse and want your horses hair attached to it like in the one pictured (but not the one you are getting, sorry D: ) I can definately do that if you can send me the hair.
Oh someone in my pay it forward has one of these babies going in the mail ASAP. Look for it ;)

Who doesn't like free stuff?

So leave a comment, blog about it, tell some friends, get back to me. What would you change about the horse world, or just the world? Feel free to open discussion, this contest officially ends the 29th of July at 12 midnight, Eastern time.

15 comments:

LuLo Designs/Blue Eyed Tango said...

I have six horses and I would not change a thing about my horses! I'm content with all their ages and levels of training and respect each one for who he is. We've been working on ground work for several years with all of them no matter the age and we're starting to see the pay off to all the hard work! I agree, everyone is more about riding but the real work is on the ground! Every single horse could benefit from ground work I don't care how broke he is! I don't mean running them around and around to just "wear them out" I mean turning, backing up etc. and gaining the respect on the ground first.....the ride goes so much better when they know you'll lead and you are truly partners. Horse owners just want to get on and ride and don't realize how many great benefits are the result of consistent training. I like your five freedoms and we do four of them....our horses are stalled at night only. If I could change people into being "more teachable" open and willing to listen to a new way of training their horses, that would be great!

Kate said...

The one thing I would change would be that, when something doesn't go right between a horse and rider/handler, the first thought the person has isn't "the horse did something wrong and is being disrespectful" but rather "the horse probably can't understand what I'm asking - what can I do differently to more clearly communicate to the horse so the horse can understand".

One Red Horse said...

This is a wonderful idea for a contest - and I think it would be a great foundation for an article - you write so well, this needs to be published!

wolfandterriers said...

If I could change one thing...
I would sponsor a GP competition with a serious purse (10k-15k). The horses would be ridden bridleless, with the option of a simple loop of rope around their necks. Being a selfish little brat, the horse that I learned to ride dressage from was capable of performing all movements with the loop of rope around his neck as he went beautifully from seat and leg. However, he was quite the pill and had an ego the size of an elephant! Not exactly the nicest horse to learn from or to ride!! You had to definitely work for it.

I thought initially that simply mandating an easier bit would work...but then I thought back to the last place I boarded, and how the Western "trainer" worked ALL of her horses in a huge cathedral bit with draw reins and a tie down--from green to finished, that was her equipment. Bit checks simply aren't enough when the horse spends the majority of its day in its stall and has palate issues due to the severe bitting it has endured.

I have started my young ones in a halter or lunge caveson very successfully and move to a bit only because I consider it the mark of a finished horse. You can ride any movement on a "rein of silk" (D. Barbier) because the idea of being on the aids/on the bit is an elastic condition throughout the animal--not just a straight line between hand and bit. Gr. Ok, rant OVER! :) (And man, I would love to try that Nurtural bridle...)

Jessie Baker said...

I love your idea of going bitless. I break all my horses in a halter first. They don't go onto a bit until I can ride them well in a halter only. I was also criticized for not breaking in a bit, but in my mind, a bit was not for control, but as an aid to use to cue a horse for advanced movement. Just like you, I feel like when my horse is learning the ropes, is awkward and trying to get a feel for this weird 2-legged thing on it's back, it's counterintuitive to have a piece of steel in such a sensitive area.

If I could change one thing I think it would be the general public's perception, in the show world, that specialization to an extreme is what is desirable and neccessary to win. Gone are the days when you could take ONE horse to a show, do halter first thing, then your rail events and then jumping and games later that afternoon. People now take such short-cuts that are plain abusive to the horse, and breed to such extremes that we're left with horses having to be put down at the age of 5 from founder or other soundness issues. In a desire to win and have the most extreme version for a particular event, we're killing our horses.

That's my wish. I suppose by having my all-rounders, showing them locally and just having fun with them, in a way, I'm trying to do my part to bring back the all-round, sound, healthy, and long-lived horse. Mine won't ever be world champions given the current climate, but they WILL be sound and healthy for a lot longer than the majority of WC's will be! :)

lisa said...

I love your blog. My horses are outside all the time also, have a run in shed and that is all. I built a barn but it will be only for feeding and if they need some attention other than that never to stay in the stall. Have a good day.

Sydney said...

Glad everyone enjoys this blog. That is what I started it for.

Keep the ideas coming guys, this is great!

Mellimaus said...

Hello! I only just found your blog, but I'm SO glad I did! I just went shoe-less with my pony, and I'm using a natural trimmer, so I'm hoping to be able to switch to bitless soon; it's my next step.

If there is one thing in this world I could change it's the fact that so many horses get shod. I hate the fact that there is so much information backing up the fact that horses don't need shoes, but people do it anyway. Not only do they shoe them, but if they don't they have regular farriers trim their hooves, and that's painful to the horse. The horse should be trimmed the way they would be in nature, otherwise going shoeless is still bad and painful. It drives me crazy how many people won't even listen when you try to tell them about going natural just because they don't want to change and they're stubborn. In reality, it's cheaper and SO much better.

Thank you for letting me rant; I'm going to go more in-depth with your blog, soon! Can't wait to read more!

Also, do you know which is better, the Dr. Cook's bitless bridle or the Nurtural bridle? I've never heard of Nurtural before this...are they pretty much the same?

Sydney said...

Mellimaus:
That is great you haven't shod you horse!
I've tried a dr.cooks as well as a few other cross under bridles made by amish people and the Nurtural worked the best, had the best reaction out of my horse, the most relaxed, hence why I offered my services to Nurtural horse. The nurtural bridle has a "circle X" that keeps the reinstraps in place from tightening, shortening etc, a bumpy soft rubber noseband to prevent a horse from leaning on it and a solid crownpiece so your rein signals do not become inconsistent. I can give you more information if you want to leave me your e-mail and some questions you might have regarding them.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

For the year that I rode my mare bitless I truly loved it, even though most horse folks would give me the eyebrows or assume that I thought they were in the wrong adn was criticizing their use of bits just because I wasn't using them.

I have a Dr. Cook's and was unfortunately experiencing issues with my horse being heavy in the head, leaning into the bridle and hence, tightening the nose band which caused the reins to get 'stuck' especially if we were turning and she would try to turn the other way or go straight. It was impossible to untighten the nose band from the saddle to give her any relief of nose pressure, so there ended up being a lack of communication...and frustration for both of us.

I'd still love to ride bitless, but am not entirely happy with my Dr. Cook's. Baby Doll rides better in just a halter actually. haha!

Anyway, what I would change in the horse world is the attitude that all horses should be shod. There are people who shoe their horses even when they aren't riding, so the horses never even get a break from the metal on their feet. And then those folks wonder why their horses end up with abcesses and lameness issues.

I'd love to see all horses go barefoot, or just wearing boots on the rockiest of trails.

~Lisa

Great idea!Oh! And your dream catcher is gorgeous! You've got lots of talent, don't you?

Sydney said...

Lisa: The cross under bridle was created years ago. Not by Dr.Cook as he says. The nurtural bridle was invented to fix all the problems the Dr.cook and other cross under had and you know what, we have people every single day switch to a nurtural for reasons you just stated like being heavy in your hands and reinstraps twisting, lack of communication. Trust me I know, I've ridden in many a bitless before deciding to rest upon a Nurtural for communication and finesse.

scaequestrian said...

If I could change one thing about the horse world it would be education. I believe that a great many of the problems we see within our chosen sport/hobby could be prevented through education. For instance, the girl I have been working with through email has been totally changed by my educating her about bits and proper training. She is now working toward educating all of her friends as well. Here is a link to our conversations... HERE

So many of the issues I have seen and spoken to horse owners about are simply a product of ignorance. Many people do not understand the need for proper and regular hoof care, some do not know that horses need their teeth floated, and the list goes on. I think that as responsible, educated horse owners, we have a responsibility to reach out and share our knowledge and skills to help make the lives of the animals we love better.

Carroll Farm said...

I love all my horses - and I am just really getting into the horse world - but my hubby grew up with horses. I think that if I could change anything about the horse world it would be not allowing STUPID (or uneducated) people have horses. There should be a class that you must take, or something, before you can own a horse. I believe that to each their own, but you better take care of it whatever way you believe. There are so many starving horses in stalls with no chance of food, my husband and I have laughed that even if I can't feed my kids, the horses will eat. They have no chance, but I can take my kids to a soup kitchen or something... do you know what I am saying. :)

Holly Abidi said...

I would just love to have a bitless bridle. I haven't started riding at this point as my horses are all in training. So that'd be the best gift ever. I've just got back into horses and have three lovely arabians. The loves of my life, that's for sure. :) However, as I am boarding it costs a lot of money so here goes my entry.

I truly believe that the one and most important thing we need to change in the horse world today is how we see the horse. No matter how nice we are we are predators and often think and even act as such. We also often do not think like a horse and use truly kind and natural methods. If you really think about it being completely natural means we cannot really ride them or put gear on them and use them. It's really not natural to a horse. If it was up to the horse he'd want to free and just be with you without force or the use of anything. However, for us to enjoy horses we want to ride. That's not wrong, and I am not against it. But then if we want that we need to work with the horse and make the horse want to be with you because he is your friend. That's hard work, takes way more time, tons of time and effort, but the results are amazing. Horses are great and they can really bond with you and would do almost anything for you if you truly are their friend. So people need to respect them, love them in a way that doesn't just use them as a means to an end. Rather we truly have to ride for the pleasure of it. If we think of many equestrian activities they are not for the horse or fun in that manner. They should be and things should change that way as well.


I pleasure ride, on the trails. And if there is one thing we can promote in this world is being as natural as possible. I love the horse revolution: barefoot, bareback, and bitless. Running on trails and just having fun. That's what unleashes the horses true spirit. Until we realize just how we really view horses, step back, and think about it, then move forward again with a new view. We will always have whips, bits, big saddles, set methods, ropes and all sorts of constraints and tools to make the horse comply. (even if we think we aren't I bet the horse sees it differently). Yes, we have to do some things the horses don't like. We don't always like what our friends do either, or if our friends make us do something for them, but because they are our friends to usually go along with it (especially when asked nicely). Horses are by nature social and compliant creatures. It can do wonders in the way of getting through to them. Talk to them, explain to them what you want. It sounds crazy maybe, but try it and you may find out that they are always always listening.

My philosophy is I want my horse to want to comply not because I ask him, but because he's my friend and he wants to. If we use traditional methods instead of newer modern means perhaps we deep down never really trust our own animals. Before I do anything with a horse, I learn the horse, to trust him completely, to become its friend and then I can go anywhere do anything with them and I know them and they know me.

I am advocating a step beyond natural horsemanship. One that involves less force, less structured training, bonding, trust, and far more at liberty methods. And it's proving to be monumentally rewarding for me and my horses.

We are close to getting to where horses will be free even when they are with us and having fun, (just watch Pat Parelli and others). Yet, we just are not quite there because of how we want to use horses, think of horses, and how we cannot really connect deeply enough. Natural horsemanship has come so far, now we need to go even further to make it more natural. To what is even more better for horses and their owners. Really being able to think like a horse, understand them, and look at our ways differently perhaps from the horses point of view and not our own. We need to open up to the new and the now. It's all in the works, I'm sure of it. Bits are the first to go. LOL!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your blog. You not only love your animals but you have great common sense. Please keep writting.

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