Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Grain 'O Salt...

Ahhh yes a late night post ONLY because tomorrow morning I'll be off in the abyss that is my life and am not sure as to when I can post this, so here you are. It will be waiting for you bright and early in the morning!

ME, as a horse trainer, I absorb everything I can. From books and other trainers, from watching horse shows and judges. I'm actually a very avid reader so I soak that stuff up like there's no tomorrow. BUT! I (and you) need to know WHAT to take in and what NOT to take in. Here is the prime example that has caused me these thoughts.

Last night as I was settling into relaxation mode at midnight, I was flipping through a book from a VERY popular horse author. Oh yes my friends, none other than Cherry Hill. And the book? "How to think like a horse." Now me personally, I love that theory. I try to ALWAYS put myself where the horse is. It helps me to slow down and really THINK about what I'm about to do, or what I'm doing or doing wrong. ANYWAY, so as I am flipping through the book I come to a page where it talks about the age of the horse and the amount of work that can be done with said animal... and do you know what it states for a 2yr old??? That you can ride them at the walk, trot, canter for 60 minutes... W..T..F!?!?!?!?

Now me, I DO NOT break horses at 2. I can wait until they're 3 to do anything with them, frankly I like my horses joints and back. Now if a client is insists on breaking their horse earlier my absolute minimum is 2 and half. And let me tell you what that consists of. 20 minutes to a half hour of riding and this is how it's broken down. For a 30 minute session it's 25 minutes of WALKING and maybe 5 of trotting. And I"m up front and honest with clients and they usually end up realizing that it's not worth it, soooo they can spare their horses and wait the other 6 damn months.

OK, sorry, I got off for a minute. So as a well respected author of a bazillion damn books, that everyone and their mom reads. Why would you EVER recommend that??? I was stunned? The rest of the book is decent, but that? EEEK

Now I know that ALOT of AQHA/APHA pleasure and of course race horses are broke at a very early age so they can race or win futurity, or like I give a shit they're all lame excuses anyway. And yes, SOME turn out being OK, and still sound until their 25, but for the most part hard riding at a young age = danger danger! And how many people are now reading that section of the book, or books like it, or have already read it and said "Well gee, that seems like a swell idea. Let's go break the youngins. Even though we don't have an F-ing clue what we're doing and we're going to end up having to pay a horse trainer and vet to fix the damage we've just done" Ugh...

Lesson learned here today?? Take everything you learn for what it is. There is NO "god" of horses trainers. Not Me, Not John Lyons, Not Cherry Hill. We're good, BUT there is always more for even US to learn and that's WHY we're good. We're constantly learning and we STICK with what WORKS!! And WE as trainers and riders, have to stick by our own convictions as well. If I feel it's not a good idea then I'm not doing it. PERIOD. Go find someone else. I'm not out to make a quick buck and compromise MY methods and theories because Joe Blow wants his horse reining or jumping at 2. I'm not shady or a scammer and I'm not about to tell you it's a good idea just because I need money. NO, I am in it for the greater good of the horse and OWNER. I want them to have a long and happy life together, not to be troubled by lameness or whatever.

So as a rider, horse owner, horse fanatic (LOL!) Learn ALL you can from ALL the different resources you can get your hands and hooves on. It's impossible for every book or DVD, or person to be "perfect" so am I saying never read Cherry Hill? HELL NO, some her stuff is great! Again just use and take what you CAN from it. Like a GRAIN OF SALT...
Plus! If you have a great horse trainer you work with, they should be open to hearing new things and your questions/concerns regarding your horse. Absorb all the knowledge and theories that make sense to YOU and that you feel you can apply in good conscience. Not all that is written in a book or spoken by a "Pro" is gold**...
**Well OK, except for me... LMAO!!!!!!


Trainer X said...

Holy 'S' guys that was a long one. Hahahaha Oh me and my rants!! Some times my thoughts get going by far too fast for one blog post. And then this is how they end up... :):):):)

Anonymous said...

You know what? Amen. I genuinely wonder, when I see some of these "trainers", if they even LIKE horses.

It's so sad that some of the organizations *coughAQHAandNTRAcough* have made training horses at such a young age into a profit game. Horses are not machines. It's not like a car, where you blow a tire and just pop on a new one. If your horse blows a knee, it's over.

I was watching the Modern Marvels episode about horses last night (after having it saved on my DVR for weeks) and they were at the Rood & Riddle Vet Hospital in Kentucky. They showed two racehorses that were being operated on, one for bone chips in its knee and the other for an obstructed airway. In neither case was the fact that the horse was suffering or living a poor quality of life mentioned. It was just, "He's not winning, so hopefully when we finish this surgery he'll be able to get up in the money."

Love Thoroughbreds. Mostly hate racehorse trainers/owners/syndicates.

GoLightly said...

Brilliant, Trex.
I ranted about this on my blog, too.
I quit riding for a guy, when he wanted to start jumping his new two-year olds a lot. Um, no, sorry, gotta GO.

Have a great day, and don't apologize for long rants.
You know I can't say anything quickly:)

Amy said...

I actually wrote a blog not too long ago on my myspace when Eight Belles had her disaster. As the proud mamma of an off the track Thoroughbred, the whole thing honestly just pisses me off. I remember getting my junior hunter as a three year old, and the only thing that had happened to him so far was that someone had sat on his back. and that was about it. And I totally agree with that. All the research by reknowned veterinarians from all over the world say the same thing - it isn't safe to start the babies until at least three. And I couldn't be happier that you also agree with that :)

OldMorgans said...

Cherry Hill said that?! Wow. I thought more highly of her.
My favorite is still Jessica Jahiel.

My horses did not start under saddle until they were 4 years. My first Morgan, I started under saddle when I got her, at age 10. She was a great riding horse & died just one week short of her 30th birthday.


Mikolaj said...

Ugh. I absolutely LOVE (insert sarcasm) how just because one reining horse in every 50 makes it to 20 years old with her hocks half decently intact, they actually use it as an arguement to justify they're completely abusive way of life.

I actually had a huge arguement with someone who said, and I quote, "*shrugs* That's just the way it is!" It sickens and disgusts me what people will do to an innocent animal in the name of money and fame. And the best part? How they project their own selfish and completely self centered emotions onto the animal itself, claiming that "he loves his job!" No...he's learned not to complain lest he gets his tail tied to his head for 6 hours.

I'll never understand it. There is a reason why Grand Prix jumpers are still heartily competeing into their late teens and even early TWENTIES. For a discipline as physically exhausting on the equine body as show jumping, that's bloody amazing.

Working with Arabs, I learned a looooong time ago that slow is the way to go. I have pics of my Arab mare at 2 years old and the idea of anyone riding her is just like *BITCHSLAP* She was broke to a rider at age 3, began her trail riding life at 4, and began her jumping/English life at FIVE. FIVE people. And you know what I have? A 10 year old mare who gallops to the gate when she sees me, sulks when I don't take her out for a ride, and acts like a kid in a candy store when she sees a jump! The point? She LOVES being ridden. And why? Because I've ALWAYS let HER tell ME what she's ready for next.

/end rant

Good topic ;-)

ponykins said...

I have Arabs. I sit on them once in a while at 2 1/2. At 3, we WALK around the arena a couple of times under saddle. At 3 1/2 we might trot a lap or two, at 4 we trail ride slowly, at 5 we are ready to show under saddle.

URAn4ssHat said...

Wow! A full HOUR? What are they expecting after that hour? A dead baby?

As for Cherry Hill, it always makes me laugh. Cherry Hill is a town in New Jersey. LOL!

copperdun said...

Trainer X, you must have been dozing off when you were reading How to Think Like a Horse. You said, "I come to a page where it talks about the age of the horse and the amount of work that can be done with said animal... and do you know what it states for a 2yr old??? That you can ride them at the walk, trot, canter for 60 minutes."

I looked through the book from cover to cover and this information is simply not there - please give me the page number and paragraph if you can. The closest I found to what you might be referring to is a chart on page 165, Ideal Length of a Training Session. Looking down to the 2-year-old it does in fact say "60 minutes". But wait - at the top of the chart Hill says, "Remember, all handling and riding is training." Reading further down the page you will see the Training Session described. Nowhere in this description is the word "riding" mentioned. Clearly, according to Hill, a 60 minute training session for a 2-year-old might consist mostly of groundwork with little riding or none at all.

I've been reading Cherry Hill's books and following her training methods for years and one thing I can say is that she appears to love horses and care about their welfare more than other trainer I know.

Check your facts next time before you rant on and plant misconceptions about a good trainer.