Friday, June 20, 2008

Perfect Horses and Kids

What has happened to horses? They have changed, they really have changed. Most horses used to be perfect horses, today very few horses are perfect. Horses have changed because people's attitudes about horses have changed. People's attitudes about a lot of things have changed. I remember as a young person when older folks would say, "What is this world coming to?". I am the one who is saying that now.

Our attitudes about our pets and even our children have changed, that is the reason there are so many experts out there getting rich telling you how to train your dogs, horses, birds, children, etc...

Magazines, Books, TV Shows, Classes, Clinics and even experts who will come to your home and teach you how to train your children and pets now exist. Our Grandparents didn't need this type of training, why do we? The answer to this question is that our attitudes are different than our Grandparent's attitudes. We have become a nation of softies, too gentle natured, too much anger management. We hate conflict and avoid it at all costs. We also hate taking responsibility and want to push all accountability off on someone else. We aren't leaders, we are followers.

The thing that really got me to thinking about all of this was a sign in a neighbor's yard. It is next to the road and hard to miss. It has a colorful picture of a child running and it says, "Kids dart, drive smart!". They are putting the responsibility of their children squarely on the shoulders of every driver who passes their house. Their house doesn't even sit close to the road. I am just having a hard time with that sign.

I am all for protecting kids even if they aren't related to me but why can't we take responsibility for our own children. They should teach their children about the dangers of the road, stay with their kids if they are in the yard or put up a fence to protect their children. Do we really have to be careful every time we drive past a house for fear that a child might run into the road in front of us? The sad truth is, if you do hit that child who runs into the road, it will be your fault and not the parents, whether you are being careful or not.

I recently saw a picture of a roofless horse trailer, it just had side walls and the horse inside was facing forward watching the world go by. Everyone on the website where the picture was posted was going on and on about how horrible this was and what in the world was the person thinking who was hauling a horse that way. They should be arrested for cruelty to an animal.

In the first place, were any of our Grandparents ever in danger of being arrested for cruelty to an animal? I don't think so, this way of thinking has just come about in the last several years. In the second place, how do you think that your Grandparents would have hauled a horse? I suppose that all depends on how old you are. My Grandparents would have hauled a horse in an open bed of a truck and though I hate to give my age away, so did my parents and so did my Husband and I when we were younger.

That's right, though it seems barbaric now, we trail rode every weekend in the national forest, to get there we trucked our horses several miles in the bed of our pick-up truck with only wooden stock racks. Those racks would not have held a horses weight if they would have fallen over against them.

We would haul two and sometimes three horses in the bed of the truck. They most always faced forward with there heads over the roof and I cannot remember even once having an eye injury or even a runny eye. We didn't have a horse trailer because they just weren't available then and when they did become more popular and more available, it took a while before we could afford one.

It is almost comical now when you hear so much talk about whether a horse will load or not. All horses loaded back then. I don't remember any clinics, books or trainers that taught you how to teach your horse to load, you just taught them.

Teaching a horse to jump up into the back of a pickup wasn't even hard. We expected them to do it and they did it. They learned early on that what we asked them to do, they had to do. So they already knew from the very beginning that they could never answer, "No!", they must always answer, "Yes!".

The really funny thing about that time period is that when someone was wanting to buy a horse, they never asked if it would load or not, and they never asked how they hauled. If you were trying to sell a horse, you didn't advertise using "loads and hauls" as a selling point.

All of our horses were perfect, all of our friend's horses were perfect. They were perfect because they were ridden hard all weekend long and weren't pampered or babied. We took good care of them but we didn't treat them with kid gloves, they always recognized us as alpha in the pecking order. We were the leaders in their herd mentality and they felt secure in our leadership, they trusted us. They knew as long as they answered, "Yes!", that we would not mistreat them in anyway and would protect them.

Many perfect horses crossed my path in my youth, some were perfect when they came into my life and some were perfect after we came to an understanding. I never minded a high spirited horse and in fact preferred one. Spooking every now and then was not what I considered a fault, but running off after spooking was. I get startled every once in a while, so why should I expect my horse to remain calm in every situation.

In order to have a perfect horse, dog or child, you have to take the responsibility to do the training and that includes discipline and teaching the meaning of the word, "NO!". You can't be afraid of conflict. If you want your horse, dog or child to feel safe with you, you have to be the leader, they have to know that you are strong enough to keep them safe by having confidence and not being fearful yourself.

I may have told this story before but here it is again, we had a horse who was always calm and didn't spook at all until someone who was looking to buy him walked up to him. All of the sudden he was looking all around for the monster that was getting ready to pounce on him. The lady was so scared of horses that he picked up on her fear immediately. He was only used to being around confident people. He trusted humans and so he just knew that there had to be a monster somewhere that had this lady so scared, he didn't know that he was the monster. As soon as she stepped away from him and someone confident stepped back to him, he calmed right down.

I know people who have never been around horses in their lives but they are not afraid of them and they can interact with horses without any problems at all. Then I know people who have been around horses all of their lives that horses just react negatively to because they are so fearful.

I plan to write about some of the perfect individual horses that have come into my life in coming blogs, so stay tuned...
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