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Those Evil Genius Horses
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Those Evil Genius Horses

I heard a comment last week that really made me think. It was during a demonstration of horsemanship and there was a horse that had an issue when they went near the mounting block. It would, as I've seen other horses do, swing its behind so that is was facing the person. This position, unless you are a gymnast, makes it almost impossible to mount and is an avoidance technique used by some horses.

When the owner was asked how long it had been going on for they said it had been getting worse for the last two months. She added that he must think that by doing this he would get away with not being ridden and would be able to go back to his field, where he could happily frolic, eat grass and play with his friends. Basically, it was a massive way of avoiding any work and a manipulation technique to get his own, obviously lazy way.

To this comment, the person doing the demonstration asked what happened and she replied that they just gave people a leg on and he had, every time he did this behavior, been ridden anyway. He had never been taken back to the field, avoided work, or had a lazy afternoon basking in the sun, having fooled his clever owners by turning to face them.

Now as I'm listening to this I'm wondering how it is then that this horse has decided that avoiding the mounting block leads to a life of leisure and complete avoidance of work, when in fact that had never, ever, not once been the results of this action. Why was it that there was an assumption that the horse was being naughty, disrespectful or any of the other popular assumptions people can make when a horse does something we might deem as undesirable.

There had been no attempt to think about why he was doing it, in terms of what might actually make sense in his world. The fact that he was a riding school horse and may be finding his work hard, may be in pain or that the multitude or sometimes terrible riders that were forced onto his back, were having a negative impact on him physically or otherwise.

Why is it that there seems to be a swing towards our horses being evil geniuses, who will at any and every given opportunity try and outdo or manipulate you? Why would anyone want to have one of these cunning little devils, if they are in fact will fully lazy, cheeky at best and evil at worst?

Are people just trying to create permanent situations where someone has to win and someone has to lose? The relationship battle with their horse where you always have to be on your guard, never allowing yourself to be too soft or stupid or else the horse will always get one over you. Should we take it as a personal attack on us if our horse doesn't comply? Maybe they are trying to communicate something or simply don't understand what it is that we want.

Surely, if we have taken the choice to have a horse in our life we can put some effort into making the relationship a good one. One based on really understanding our horse, using their own language and intellect and not based on our own, often warped perspective. 

It amazes me that people will have the expense and the emotional drain of owning a horse, without reaping the incredibly benefits of a harmonious and respectful partnership with their horse. Is it just about winning, being more dominant, important or powerful? Do our horses have to be the butt end of our insecurities and ego, when in reality most horses are desperate to feel safe, content and useful? Don't they and we, deserve to approach the relationship with an honest and open minded attitude, allowing the potential of a wonderful, deeply respectful and life changing partnership?

I personally feel that you miss out on learning more about yourself, the world and improving your life if you draw the battle line between you and your horse. Isn't there enough situations in your life where you have to fight, struggle and feel let down? Don't bring those emotions into you equestrian life and build instead a bond and relationship with your horse that makes you feel like you could take on the world, with your horse lovingly at your side.

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  1. James Kenway
    hey. let me tell ya two storys as explonation why it would avoide riding. first i tell one from my own life. then one from stormy may's and her horse, sundance.... there was a time, for 3 years ago or so. where i loved to ride. i had my own shetlands pony, a stalion... every time i came on visit with mom where i had him, every one week in a month, i was going out for a nice ride on him. no problem at all, oder that he somtimes did bug with me, but not a lot, as i allways was on to him... BUT, if i for once just took a walk with him in rope, he did bite and snap after me. not wanting me at all at his side... if i gave him more rope and took more distance to him, he would rush forward trying to run off from me... at the time, i thoug he was him being nutty. but i soon realize he simpel hated me.... i found stormy may's documentary 'the path of the horse documentary' relized in 2008. and i completly stopped to ride. i undestood how riding would damage a horses back. but could at first not belive that bits was that painfull as alexander nevzorov destribed. but all the same, i stopped riding, and took only walks with my stalion nari side by side. it took month before he stopped biting me. it was hard for him to forgive me. and over a year before we became friends and he realized that i really truely had stopped riding him. finaly one day, he began to responde on my scratsing on his chest, or behind the front legs, and began to gendly nuzzel back. i began let him walk free in the stabel, only sayin 'ahah' when he did something i did not like he did, and put my foot betwin him, and that thing he was going in. for a time, he did bite me in my foot. roudely demanding, 'let me pass julian' i replide 'ahah, dont bite, that hurts me, i dont like that, and its not okay to go in the rabits food friend!' he would glare at me, then sometimes bit again, and again i stayied from punish him, and just said 'ahah' don't bite' eventuely, he would turn around and leave the small room with rabits and there food, and go say hello to the oder pony's mom then had. after 5 day's of that, and i felt things was going so well. i opended the stabel door. lod him lose of his rope to walk free, only with his halter on. i did go to the stabel intrance (of withs there was plenty of grass in front of) and as he came by, i asked him 'would you like to come outside with me and grass?'... now note that i had no rope or anything on him. he only had his halter on. he came with me outside, no fence or anything to keep him from runing away. i did go to the ends of the grass areas, and quietly explained him the limits of where i felt safely enoug to have him go to, without i would be worryed abute it... he could sometimes run off, if i took him out as the sun was on its way down. but every time i found it was not a abuse of my trust, or to anoy me. it was a test on how fare my trust did go. and every time i would after a surtend distance yeil (not angry but worred that he now really did run away) 'noo nari, please wait for me friend!!! please, don't run off' then he would made a turn left and run that way tuwards the nightbore, and i was like 'nooo, please don't, don't couse my mother trubel with the nightbore here too' and at the end of just before he was in there teritorie, he would stop and grass quietly. when i got to him, he would run off again, runing HOME to the grass in front of the stabel door!!! there i could then come and scrats him, and once again say 'oh your nutty friend, i failed again your test of trust, when will i ever learn! ;) some weeks laiter after he had stop running off, i took him around to the garden behind the house, with only a hand under his jaw, not holding in his halter. i removed my hands from his jaw, and did go to the area's where he could slip out, and explained to him how i would feel unsafely with if he did go too fare beyon that point. and belive it or not. but from the very begining of that, he respected it when he came close to that kind of area's and i said 'ahah, please don't go further that way' and he would turn a bid and grass alongside the limit line i had showing him without having to draw or paint a line.... first one day when there was snow did there happen an accident. he was out as normaly, finding grass in the snow at the garden. me merly standing and keep an eye on him, as horses allmost allways was more energy full when cold. and he would allso sudenly stop grassing and run around on the garden. and every time, i could just say 'hooo, easy, easy. relax and just go back to grass friend, its okay' and he would. but sudenly he got a biiig flip of outburst of energy, and he rand out of the garden (me after him) around the next corner (me after him just to see him turn around the next corner) me back the way i came to see if he came that way back into the garden. and he did. then he turned back to grass a little, then anoder turn of that... the third time, i stayed in the garden and toud 'aah okay, his just taiking yet anoder round now' so i stood and waited to see him come in the oder side of the garden. but he did not come... i imiteryetly ran to the oder end of the farm mom now did live at. and did see him run over the large field to a nigtbore farm. he was allready too fare away to feel my feelings. so i just yeilded all i could 'nooo nari, please don't!!!! come back friend!!!! i promis im not angry just wait up for me!!!! but he ignored me, or behaps he simpel did not hear me. i had a rope on me in case something like this would happen, so i ran after him. and as i got to the farm, and looked around the farm instead of within the farm where i did see him go. i found him walk in there wenstabels field. i closned in on him slowly, and said 'please let me put this rope in your halter and lead you home. i know you don't like it here with mom becouse she is like she is. but it's only a month now, then we move away from here us 3, the mare storm, you, and me. please let me get you, im not mad, i promis' all weil i was present with the feelings of regred, fear, sorrow, along with a lot of feeling that was to show i NOT was angry. i was allowed to put the rope on. and we calmly walked home, and as i promised, i was not mad on him, but calmed explained to him why i got scared, how and why its not okay to go over there, and how fare i undestand he would feel tempted to run away from here, to get away from mom, who at that time, not was very good to her pony's... he never ever did run off again. exepth 3 orcations at the new place, along with storm, where i had to walk around kilometers after them, but never with any harm in mind. just becouse they wanted grass, and i not yet dared to let them out at liberty yet. and there was no fenced grass areas there yet. but thats anoder story :) now stormy may's story abute sundance.... she was young, and dreamed of all the compatetions she would win. the places she would travel to, and people to meet. she did see the 6 month years old sundance, literly ''dance'' on the field, her movement SO free and menivtly. truely that was the perfect horse for her goal. to win compatetions in drassage.... she bout the foal only 6 month old. earliger expiriance had learned stormy may that it soon would calm down once it learned how long the rope was, and she kept it safe. or, that was what she told herself, stronly holding on to the rope, and her emotions.... as it came in an age of 3, and she was out petting and scratsing and grooming it by the white wooden frence as useal. she felt a temptation she could not risist. she climed the fence, took her riget leg over sundance back, lod it rest there for a weil, putted halve her whait on. then lod go of the fence, and then she was on. sundance was just grassing, not seemed to mind her there on her back at all.... truely that was the good start on a riding relationship and partnership... once again she dreamed of the places she was going to visit troug compatetions. how effortless it had been to get on sundance. a few month laiter, she began to intraduce sundance to her work. stormy may (allso called marina may) putted the bridle on. and for the first 20 min everything did go fine. but then she over and over was bugged off... it came to a point, where she asked for oder experts help. as she herself was and experts, but a gendel horse trainer, not using the more brutal methos. her instructor who allso was her friend instructed 'get up on the horse, hold this whip, and so on and so on.... but as she was to clime up on sundance again, she felt the old femeliur feeling of fear again. soon it became clear that sundance not could become the competetion mare she had dreamed of... and no one would buy a mare that allways did bug one off. then one asked to have her as breeding mare, and stormy may agreed to that term, that if sundance not did work out as breed mare, she would be turned back to here. 3 month past. where stormy may did her work home at her rance. training horses, and all of that. then 3 month laiter, they came back. saying she not did turn out as a good breed mare.... as marina did see her mare coming out of the trailer back home again, she had two cunfusion feelings. on one side, sundance was a reminder of her faliur, a red spot on the field, forever reminding her of having failed completly. on the oder hand, she felt relifed, that her dear mare was home safe again.... she laiter came to work with a small pony... there was nothing wrong hanling it from the ground. but once she sit up on it, the pony would turn its head and snap after her legs. and there was no way to made it stop doing that. now this ponyt was to be a childrings pony. there is no way it would be safe for a child with a pony like that... here was again one who was okay down from the ground, but not on its back... she wondred why thise two, first sundance, now this pony, did mind being riding on... but why does all the oders not? sure some did bug a little at first, but they soon was okay with it... but thise two just won't give in... why? she allso had been a riding instructor, compstetion jugts, horse trainer, everything within the industri for 20 years.... so weil she wonderd why only thise two she had come by in her life regted being riding on, she allso came to the conclution saying 'i have had 20 years, learning people the same lessons, being with the same type of horses and so on, i don't need anoder 30 years' and so she sold her rance to fund her jurney. buy'ed plain thicked and a camara, becouse she thoud 'well, why not buy a camara and made a movie of it' and took out to meet 6 people from the books that inspired her.... but thats a story best told buy herself, that you can see by typing 'the path of the horse' on youtube... :)
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