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Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Tele-beeb, Dec 8, 2019.
Good advice for parents unfamiliar with horses.
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When we get out to my parents' house in rural San Luis Obispo County, after we have visited at length with the parents and any family or guests present, we hasten out into the back yard, to the fence and visit with the horses that the Wittstroms have. Only after visiting at length with these animals, do we think to check on some of the people we've met around town there.
I'm trying to remember that some children have zero experience with horses or other livestock. The amount of reserve you employ, is IMO directly proportional to how much familiarity your kids have with these animals. So I guess it goes without saying, if you are asking, then maybe you should proceed slowly and with care. Knock yourself out on a balloon ride or bungee jump or something inanimate, if you're in a hurry. With actual animals, take time to get to know them. It is more fun that way.
Horses and motorcycles. Wow, Never thought about that juxtaposition.
Sounds like my old dirt bike!
Horses are huge!
THAT...is a beautiful thing!!
Yes it is.
As I said in my earlier reply, I'm no horse person, but as a teacher and a person who grew up in various modes of rurality I have known too many horse people, young and old, to make a blanket statement either way about whether horses are appropriate for children. I have no knowledge or experience to add here, but I think this is a very interesting thread, and one that should be very helpful to the OP in making his decision.
Way huger than me. Been around them a few times and I don't have any instinctual trust for something that can crush me like a bug. Got bucked off as a kid during a 'pleasure' ride. No physical harm done....mostly embarrassed....and scared! Has anyone mentioned they're HUGE?!! And they will have their way with you if so inclined.
A lot of people are chiming in with comments about how dangerous and unpredictable horses can be. They are mentioning the risks, and the injuries which they or people then know have suffered. I could make the same comments about baseball, football, soccer, or driving a car. There is no such thing as a safe activity, period. A skateboard is much smaller and lighter than a horse, but skateboards injure countless people every year, some of those injuries are disabling or fatal.
What is overlooked are the many advantages which owning and/or riding horses can provide. The first is responsibility. A horse requires care 24/7. It needs to be fed at least twice a day, its stall must be cleaned out; there is grooming, cleaning feet, and a dozen other things aside. Then there is the time which one must spend riding and/or exercising their horse. A kid who grows up doing such things is likely to be more responsible and take better care of themselves when they grow up.
Another important thing about all animals, and horses in particular is learning and understanding the "pecking order." To have a safe relationship with any kind of animal, the human being must always be the Alpha. Horses and other animals understand the pecking order clearly, and they respect it. If they rate you above themselves in the order, you will find they are much easier to ride or live with, they will no resist, and are much less likely to behave dangerously.
Human society also has a pecking order. There are those we respect for obvious or unconscious reasons, and those we don't. We are more likely to pay attention or listen to those we respect than those we don't. It is a natural thing. We may not like those higher in the pecking order than ourselves, but we tend to go along with them.
When you learn about animals, particularly ones which are many times larger and stronger than you, and you are able to put yourself on top of them in the pecking order, it goes a long ways toward finding yourself a higher spot in the human pecking order.
My grandfather grew up around horses, he first ran away to join the Cavalry at 14. The Cavalry school was tough, it was a 6 month training program which pushed would-be troopers hard, a good deal of them dropped out. You had to learn to ride in parades and in combat, to fight from the saddle with a saber, handgun, or rifle. You had to negotiate tough obstacle courses, and perform a course with a series of jumps riding bareback and with your hands held out horizontally like the wings of an airplane.
The horses the Army bought had to meet a series of physical standards, but there were no standards for personality or docility. Some of the horses were not merely mean or bad tempered, they were indeed dangerous. And those horses which no other person could tame were sent to my grandfather. He was no "horse whisperer," he could be meaner and far more dangerous than the worst of horses. It never took more than a day for my father to break the wildest and most dangerous horse, and those he did were sought after by the higher-ups in the Cavalry.
I seldom saw my grandfather ride, and those rare times I did was when he was dealing with a difficult horse which was giving other people problems. He wasn't breaking or teaching the horse, he was teaching the horse's owner that it was not the horse which was the problem, but the owner him or herself. If a group of us walked up to a horse, it would look at my grandfather, and no one else, he had that nature about him.
When dealing with people, he was just as strong. Though he was a stable sergeant (the equivalent of a First Sergeant), he had a way about men which brought him respect. He worked for Colonel Wainwright when the commanded the 3rd Cavalry, living in Mt Vernon (which used to be George Washington's home) with him. He was also part of MacArthur's entourage during the war, and after the war worked for Eisenhower and Kennedy. Not bad for a man who had only a junior high school education, and had been a soldier at an age two years younger than we allow kids to get drivers licenses. Among men, my grandfather was quite high in the pecking order.
As a little kid, I was afraid of horses. They were big and scary, and when I sat on one, it was a long way to the ground. Horses sense fear, and don't like it, it make them nervous and afraid as well, and much harder to ride. I got over this fear when I was made to take care of and ride a very large Belgian draft horse. This horse was 19 hands tall (6 feet at the shoulder), and was so big and wide that riding him was like riding a sofa. He was young and energetic, but his size made him a little slow, and when he bucked or jumped (which happened quite often), he couldn't get very high. And if he ran away with me on his back (which also happened quite often), he would quickly tire out and slow down.
After my experience with the Belgian, normal horses seemed as big and scary as Golden Retrievers. They were no longer frightening to me, and as a result, they were not nervous or scared when I rode them. They were much less likely to spook, they went where I wanted them to go, and behaved as I wanted them to behave.
I seldom ride now, here in Japan horses are few and far between, and those few places where you can rid are small, and the horses seldom move quicker than a trot. My mother still owns a horse, a dilapidated old Morgan which which probably die if I sat on it.
My last horse was a running Quarter Horse, who had a high speed index, and on the Register of Merit for her racing performance. I bought her because she was bright, sensible, had a kind eye, and fast. I loved running her along the riverside as fast as she cared to go. You have not lived until you have run a horse so quickly that the wind brings tears to your eyes, you hear the thunder of the horse's feet flying below you, and heard the breaths of the horse as it runs full speed.
PS. Finding a good horse is not very easy. Most horses will do, but some are better than others. It is not a good idea to buy a horse advertised in a Horse Trader magazine, or at an auction. You really need to take a close look, and know what you are looking for.
When I first look at a horse, I see how it reacts to me. Does it approach me? Does it move away from me? Or does it simply ignore me? Next, I look at the face and head. You can tell a lot about a horse from its eyes and its expressions, and from the way its ears move. A horse should be, at best, a little curious, looking at you, with its ears forward, at average, it should be indifferent, not looking or caring. If the horse moves away, or into a defensive posture, you need to be a little careful. I then see if the horse allows me to pick up its feet and lets me check them. If you can do this with a horse without it being tied, its probably safe enough.
Next I look at the horse's body. I look at the back, the shoulder, the rump. I look for scars, for sores, bumps, or other oddities. The withers should be higher than the rump (or at least level with it), and should be a little peaked. This gives the horse better a balance, and allows the saddle to stay in place more easily. Over the last 40 years or so, some horses have been bred to fit a rather silly standard where they have big butts, short backs, with low and wide withers. This standard might look good to judges in a halter class in a horse show, but it is not so good for actual riding. Some horses have "roach" backs, which has an odd bump or high area between the back and the rump, while others can have "sway" backs, which are U shaped, either one is a sign of poor breeding, and good luck trying to get a saddle to fit right.
I then look at the horse's shoulder, it should slope at a good angle, if it is too steep, the horse may have a rough step. I then look at the legs and feet. The legs should be straight, there should be no wind puffs on the lower legs (large bumps under the skin), the pasterns should have a good angle, and not be too short. Short, upright pasterns give the horse a rough gait, longer, sloping pasterns give a smoother gait, but they shouldn't be at too shallow of an angle either.
Next I look at the hooves. This is important, as the hooves can tell you a lot about the health of the horse, and how well it has been cared for. A horse which is regularly ridden should be wearing shoes. The hooves should all have the same angle, they should not be too long. I look for waviness in the hoof, which can be a sign of founder. I look for small sores and cuts above the hoof, which can be signs of other problems. If the horse is not wearing shoes, it should at least have its hooves neatly trimmed. There should be no serious cracks or damage, you should be able to lift up the feet and look underneath for other problems. Black hooves are hard, and wear well, white hooves are softer, and wear more quickly, striped hooves are the best of both worlds.
Then it is time to take the horse for a ride. Like a car or a guitar, you should not buy a horse without trying it out. I saddle the horse myself, I ride it around at a walk and see how it obeys, and how smooth its gait is. Some horses are trained differently than others. Some use a loose rein, or neck rein, others use a tight rein, some are trained well enough that you simply use your knees. I move from a walk to a trot, and from a trot to a canter, I then ride in a figure 8 to see if the horse changes its lead.
Horses may look more or less the same, but minor differences make a big difference in how they ride. Some horses ride like jackhammers, others ride like Cadillacs. A horse with a smooth gait is much more of pleasure to ride than a horse with a rough gait.
If you are buying a horse, make sure the owner has the health and immunization records. Some horses are constantly sick, and they are expensive enough without having to deal with endless vet bills.
I spent a good part of my childhood around horses. In my opinion, you have to be a horse person 100% if you're going to own a horse. Its a passion and a lifestyle. To some people, horses are everything and everything revolves around horses. Those are the kind of people who should own horses. Otherwise I'd say it's not a great idea for a kid. You have to have the kind of rapport with the animal that only comes from a total committment to riding horses and caring for them.
My general practitioner was kicked in the eye by his own horse when he was standing behind the horse. He lost is eye and got a glasseye. So yes, being carefull is always recommended I guess.
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Sent from my horses scent. what a wiff!
hey, don't leave those apples on the road!
Does this look dangerous?
(6 second clip of a dope teasing a horse)
haha... check the little hop-set-kick, almost like a choreographed dance.
All of the experienced horse owner answers a really informative. This particular one caught my eye.
I was not going to chime in because I have not ever owned a horse, but my wife has. She was almost killed by her horse when it was frightened one winter day when she was a teenager. She not only has the scars on her forehead to show for it still but developed chronic back pain later in life most likely from the accident.
Although she still kept riding after the incident she eventually sold her horse and bought a car. Probably more reliable transportation but still dangerous. It is a lifestyle and I know a few horse owners now who wouldn’t have it any other way.