‘You don’t know what you don’t know’, this a wonderful expression. Sometimes we do things that hurt others because we simply don’t know. I did things that hurt horses for many years because I didn’t know. I believed what everyone told me, my teachers, my mentors, and felt that if I improved my horse skills enough everything would fall into place. I used bits, spurs and whips, and I loved my horses. I really loved them, and believed I was giving them the best life. I worked ha
I was recently talking with a lady who understood that animals are sentient and should be treated with respect and kindness. But even though she was clear about how animals should be treated she had trouble getting her head around the idea of riding with a bitless bridle. This got me to thinking about the ‘culture of horse riding’.
In this culture it is a known fact that you cannot control a horse without a bit. It is ok to use force and pain to make a horse do want you wan
Recently my husband related a story to me of an experience he’d had that day. He was talking with someone when the topic of horses came up and he was explaining what it is I do with them. He started talking about the bits in the mouth and the other person didn’t understand. Eventually it became clear that he thought those pretty metal rings at the side of the horses head were just that, pretty metal rings, for decoration. He had no idea they were holding a metal rod inside th
I looked up the definition of this word and came up with – ‘regard with deference, avoid degrading, insulting, injuring or interrupting and treat with consideration’. Respect is a word that is heard often in horse circles, usually when a person is saying a horse doesn’t have enough respect. This is considered a very bad thing and the horse must be taught to show more respect for humans immediately. I usually start feeling quite uncomfortable when I hear people use this word i
The use of food in training horses is a controversial topic. Many ‘horse people’ are against using food treats. With all other species of animal food is used in training, so why not horses? In many European countries food is used extensively in horse training. Circus and trick horses are also trained this way. I started questioning people and found an interesting thing. A lot of people don’t understand basic training theory and don’t know the difference between bribery and
Everyone’s looking for the happy place. This is where life is beautiful, there are no pressures on us and no stress, this is where we can relax and enjoy what the world has to offer. Horses also look for the happy place. When horses are in the happy place they can relax and unwind their muscles, their minds are open to learning, as there is no stress, and they are much more open to their human.Far too frequently when I’m out and about training horses and their humans, I find
And now we make it to the final discussion on the rider’s body parts. So far the legs, hands, arms and head & neck have been covered. The torso is the part in the middle of all these and so is quite literally the central component of any rider. A well balanced, centred torso is fundamental for the effective use of all the other parts. The easiest way to describe the desirable position for the torso is to divide it into two sections. The upper torso is from the riders centre
This has to be the number one question that people ask me, and it’s a good one. Horses are famous for being able to run fast, very fast, and when we sit on them we want to know we can stop them. Many people who ride horses are afraid and the number one fear they have is that their horse will take off and they won’t be able to stop them. In response to this fear an industry based on control through pain has arisen. The number of torture devices on the market is incredible. In
It has been suggested that one of the things that sets humans apart from other animals is our ability to think of the past and of the future. It is certainly true that we do spend an enormous amount of time doing this. Animals appear to live more in the present moment. A horse will respond to something that triggers a memory from the past, so their present behaviour is affected by past events. But they are having their response and their thought process in the present. Unlike
My own personal journey with bitless bridles began over ten years ago. Since then I have passed through many and varied learning experiences and perspectives. Now I find I’m returning to a similar place to where I started. Initially I loved the cross-under bitless bridle because it meant I could immediately remove the bit from my horses’ mouths. I’d been riding in halters for years but didn’t feel safe doing that riding alongside the road or at work taking people out riding.