My First Horse and the Movies
When I got my first horse, after years of tears (I was twelve, give me a break…LOL) I had a thirst for knowledge about all things horse. I’d been fixated on horses since I was eight (?) but my sole movie role model was the relationship between young Alec Ramsey and The Black as my shining example of how to ‘bond’ with your horse.
Feed ‘em lotsa seaweed and he’ll eventually let you ride. ‘Course, the rescued Alec then had to deal with his mother–and the world–with his new BF Horsey Friend, and I grew less interested in the storyline.
Now, Jim, from downunder, The Man from Snowy River, was a cool movie and yet I always felt a little betrayed by the fact that Jim wanted the loose wild stallion rather than the totally awesome horse he had . . . that was broke to ride . . . and did ANYTHING he asked (including jump off foreboding, cliff-like structures that other horses and men were saying, rationally, I might add, “Nuh-uhhhh! No way!” Go figure. The grass-is-always-greener syndrome, I guess. And the ultimate betrayal? He fell in love with a girl, of all things.
Those were my visual learning incidences. I never counted all the spaghetti westerns or even the Lone Ranger. I never thought those cowboys could ride very well (at my very opinionated age of ten…LOL) and they so rarely showed any interaction between character and horse that it seemed they used the animals more as transportation than companion.
My First Horse and the Books
So, I had a few books and equine magazine subscriptions. I’d pore through the material, sifting through the content, searching for the *key* that would unlock the *reason* why horses did what they did and how to get them to do what the rider wanted instead. I laser-sighted the small advertisements in the back of the magazines. Professor Beery’s wonderful ‘magic’ bit and training course booklets. (Remember? Trip down memory lane . . . LOL) Okay. But even at the tender age of twelve, I knew it couldn’t be ‘magic’. I wanted to believe there was magic, but I knew it wasn’t magic. Magic is unexplainable and I KNEW there was a way to explain horses. I just hadn’t found the information yet.
Unfortunately, all those magazine and home course study guides failed to fulfill my dreams of equine ecstasy. We’ve already established that I was somewhat opinionated (even at that age) and also, to my ever-lasting misfortune, I was, and still am, a rule-following-perfectionist. If I couldn’t do it exactly by the ‘book’, I wasn’t going to try and do it at all. Those gems of literary perfection were snapshots in time and didn’t describe my exact problem with my horse. I wasn’t starting an unbroke colt and the problems those magazines articles and books endeavored to fix were too glossed over and when I tried to implement, another problem would occur making the situation worse with no solution! There was no ‘bridging’ of problems to solutions to problems to solutions.
I searched on.
My First Horse and the Trainers
So, there were a few trainers at the stables where I boarded my horses. Mostly, western and then some hunter/jumper. I disliked jumping because I KNEW I was lacking that *key* of understanding, and remember that previous rule-following-perfectionism I possess? At least it prevented me from doing something so dangerous as flying through the air on a thousand pounds of uncontrollable horsemeat without insurance or backup. I worked with a western trainer or two but they kept wanting me to sell my (admittedly obnoxious, mildly dangerous) little welsh/arab cross and buy the twenty thousand dollar broke broke broke quarter horse for the AQHA show circuit. Not my thing. I wanted to make *my* horse work. I didn’t see the point of moseying around the arena with my horse’s nose on the ground, walking-the-lope. Boring. In the early 1980’s, dressage was becoming quite the thing in the States and I had an older woman friend that did ‘dress-aje’ . . . oooooh, ahhhhh, . . . and yet, dressage just couldn’t explain why my horse kept shoving her shoulder into me from behind and nearly running me down when we went past scary objects. I wasn’t going to ‘beat her up’ without knowing precisely WHY I was ‘beating her up’ (rule-following-perfectionism. If I don’t know the rules, how can I be expected to follow them? LOL.) And so I was one of those bleeding-heart-cookies-will-solve-everything-because-my-horse-was-gonna-love-me-or-else (even if she was EBIL! LOL) type of horse owners that silently envied other owner-riders with their quiet, respectful, polite horses but publicly ridiculed them for being abusive.
My First Horse and the College
So, when I grew older, I went to college. A horse college. Moorpark College Equine Management and Training Program. That was kinda a let-down. It’s now defunct. See my point? Not good enough. LOL The equine studies were too basic and I could already teach most of the classes in my sleep. I guess it would have been fine if I was the average horse person.
While I was at Moorpark College Equine Management and Training Program 1985-86, (I just love saying that out loud over and over . . . quite the tongue twisting mouthful! LOL) a certain clinician showed up to ply his wares. At that time, nobody knew him and he wasn’t quite the big selling hot ticket he is now. I don’t think he was quite as consistent as he is now either. I didn’t really get to watch his work with the guinea pig (horse) because I was doing Security work for crowd control, but mostly what I saw was a lot of running in the bull pen. Run-run, blah blah, run-run. Anyways, Parelli didn’t impress me. Not because he didn’t do what he said he was going to do, and not because HE couldn’t eventually get the job done, but how was that going to get ME from point A (the stall) to point B (the bullpen) if I couldn’t get a halter on my horse safely? The bullpen work was too much work-in-isolation, not something I could apply to my riding or all areas of my horsemanship. It felt like whenever your horse was not doing what you wanted her to do, you’d have to drop everything and find a bullpen! LOL
I basically knew a bunch of tips, tricks and shortcuts; prey-predator psychology; I knew how to leg-yield across the arena and walk-a-lope down the rail; I’d shown English, Western and Dressage. But the idea span between each concept or movement was so great, I was unable to work with certain horses under certain circumstances. I could do all these ‘things’ but didn’t understand why they were happening.
My First Horse and the Internet
And then I got my first computer. Oh boy Oh boy! Almost as much as horses and books and knowledge, computers flipped a switch in me. It was a P-75 with 8mbs of Ram and a standard 340mb HD. Woo Hoo! It was smokin! LOL Cost this arm and that leg. Or nearly $2000.00. Wow. At the time, it was Albert Einstein in a box. Nowadays, it’s a paperweight. A BIG one. I doubt it even ran on electricity. Maybe there was a coalbox in it for fuel? LOL
Anyways, the www in the early 1990’s wasn’t anything like it is today. There was something called a BBS (bulletin board system) but I didn’t know anything about that. I highly doubt there was a group of likeminded horse enthusiasts with the wherewithal to create and sustain a Horse Training BBS. And if there was, it was likely small, and oriented to a certain town, city or region. Not World-Wide.
That was even before MY time. :) But as I trundled my slow, laborious way (28.8k? 56k? Is there a difference at that speed? LOL Like watching grass grow or cement set either way) across the information highway, (footpath?) suddenly, I could find ANYTHING online. And as the years passed, and the speed increased, I could find any obscure topic imagined and Somebody, Somewhere, had written it down. OMGAWD! I was in heaven! My thirst for knowledge was only limited by bandwidth and my ability to speed read! LOL
I’ve been accused of knowing everything (or is that of being a know-it-all? LOL) but it’s not true. I don’t need to know everything. I just need to be able to find the answer to everything. I no longer need to actually ride every single type of horse to understand how they work. I could read how someone else handled their horsey problems and then make the connections between their cause/effects and my own.
Suddenly, the neural pathways between universal equine concepts and my own personal experiences grew clearer and clearer. I could see across to the other side. Processing ahead, projecting ahead to a final outcome because I read about someone else’s experiences and their process in doing the same thing. All my incidences and training problems and riding experiences had connections between them. Now, rather than just learning from my own experiences, I tapped into everyone else’s, too. It was no longer a process of learning-in-isolation. And if one website didn’t make sense, one person’s way of explaining a training methods was too difficult, there was ALWAYS another to explain the process a little differently, maybe more clearly.
What was once a solitary learning process, built bought book by lone library book, magazine article by loaned video, now has literally thousands of modes of input. There are SO MANY opportunities to learn from other people’s triumphs and mistakes: video sharing sites, blogs, websites, forums, etc., all just a mouse click away. There is no way to assimilate so much information by merely living it. What took me decades to accrue in knowledge by ‘living’ the experiences, now had been quadrupled in a matter of a few years by surfing the web.
And then you get the person who says, half the stuff on the ‘net is bogus. Yep! It sure is. But you will learn the difference just by reading it all. Stay focused. No phake pharming! That is a life sucker! LOL
Use the internet. It is your friend and you have a responsibility to your horse (your kids, your family, your sanity) to learn and change and be better. Nothing takes the place of actually getting your butt in the saddle and riding—your body learns to ride by riding—BUT your head learns to ride by seeing/reading and hearing about riding.
I love the internet!