Friday, October 21, 2016

Apply your outrage locally!

This past weekend at Fair Hill International a rider was allowed to finish the XC portion even though blood was clearly visible in the mouth of the horse as early as fence 10( according to pictures and reports from those present). This has caused quite the ruckus, as it should in my opinion. I have read opinions and great blogs questioning the blood rule, and decisions made by the officials, fears that this type of PR will hurt equestrian sport, and just pure outrage regarding all kinds of things connected to this event. Borrowing from political journalists I say we call this whole thing "Bloodgate." And "bloodgate" sure is getting people fired up, and I think that's good! Get fired up! State your opinion! Sign that petition and take a stand.

But you know what? I'm going to ask you to stay with that feeling of outrage and activism for a while, and try to apply it to your local equestrian community. Quite often equestrians at local levels "get away with murder", or more likely, negligent homicide. (Negligent homicide is the killing of another person (horse) through gross negligence or without malice). We all talk about "those people"at the local level: that have malnourished horses. Old school horses who can no longer carry little bouncy kids in lessons and instead of being given the sweet retirement (after earning money for their owner carrying one bouncy ass after another) in a field of clover, are dumped at meat auctions (I for one would rather the vet come out and give them a pain free end).
 How about the ones who have one freakish "accident" after another, when everyone knows it's caused by mis-management (if one is being kind and not just calling a spade a spade). Horses are getting hurt by people who cut corners knowingly every day. Horses are hurt because repairs were not done, and then not given the care and consideration they need to heal.
Old horses that have given their lives to their sport, are drugged and competed way too long, and everyone who sees it shakes their heads and whisper. "Can you believe she is still running that horse? How old is it now? 26?"
Crimes happen and people talk, but no one presses charges because they don't want any more drama, and just want the offender off their property so "they can move on." And they do, they move on to do it again to someone else.

These things go on in every community, and I could go on and on..........

So what do I want you to do? Make a big stink? Raise your voices? grab your pitchforks and run the bastards out of town? (YES!) No! You do not have to go that far.... You know what I'd like? I'd like to see the offenders we know about, (because we saw it, and there is no doubt) not be supported by people in the community. I'd like those that whisper and spread the rumors, shake their heads and "just feel awful" to put their actions where their mouths are.
You don't have to take a big public stand and yell from the mountain top that "so and so" did "this and that!" You can just NOT support them by action or word. Don't help them earn money, and don't give them your money! Stop going to that barn! Stop taking lessons from that trainer! Stop attending clinics/events at that boarding place! Stop recommending that person! Stop "liking and sharing" their events and results on social media! Just stop!
You can do that very quietly and without drama. You don't even have to tell others not to support that person, or even why you are not. If asked, just make a bland excuse and move on. Just distance yourself and leave it at that!  If you see the person, be polite, but don't invite them into your social equestrian circle. The best part is you do not have to spread the rumors, or be involved in the drama in any way. All you have to do is walk away! Retreat! And shut up! Easy peasy!

As equestrians we have a responsibility to stand for the horse, and sometimes the best way to do that is to do just that; just stand! Take that stand personally, and support horse people whose actions you agree with. Make sure those you recommend really are equestrians you recommend without reservations. Give your funds to people who you feel care for and treat horses ethically. Spread the word about trainers and barns that treat horses well. Support their events, and cheer them on.
 And apply the Thumper rule liberally:

"If you can't say something nice, don't say nothin' at all!" But let's amend that a little: If you can't say something nice, don't talk crap about them, and then support that person in other ways.
...................... Just sayin'...................

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Learning Buffet

In my quest to becoming a better horse owner, and trainer, I am always looking around for pearls of wisdom. There are lots of venues to learn, great trainers, and I also find that I learn an incredible amount from "ammie" riders just like me. I read everything I can find, watch videos, read blogs and books, and peruse facebook groups. Basically I am obsessed!

Once in awhile I come across a type of person that I will call "the Cult Disciple." They are so convinced, and may I say "brainwashed," to their leader's way of training and riding that they are defensive right off the bat. And also often arrogant and self righteous. "So and so" uses only "this and that" method, and "no Gadgets," and anything else is "cruel," "abusive" and "unjust" and at best is a total "waste of time"and it will make you horse "fractious." This is a quick way to make me leave your school of thought behind. Nothing turns me off quicker than a hard sale, and the words "this is the only way...."

You know why? Cause there are 100s of ways to Rome. I will never become convinced that it is a good idea to swallow one training method, line hook and sinker, to get the best result with yourself and your horse. And the good news is that I don't have to do that; I can approach learning and training the same way I approach The Golden Corral Buffet. I can walk in, grab a plate, and fill it whatever I want. Maybe a little clicker training, with a bowl of BioMechanics and side of cowboy sauce. I don't enjoy the real crunchy Parelli stuff, and the Modern Dressage can be a little undercooked and tough, but boy I do love me some Classical Dressage. I eat that a lot, and have tried recipes from a variety of old chefs. But as I grow and mature, so does my taste buds, so I try new things, and if I still don't like it, I will just put it aside, and perhaps come back to it later on. 

The most important thing for me is to stay open minded, and ready to listen and learn. The only thing I try to judge is how the training method affects my horse, and if I am getting the desired results without causing pain or undue stress to my horse or myself. When something works I could care less if I heard it from Monty, Jane, Buck, Karen, George, Charlotte, Will, or Carl, read it in a blog, or heard it from a friend. Good Dessert is just good, no matter who first came up with the recipe.