Thursday, 31 May 2012

The Most Important Rule of Horsekeeping

Pat Parelli has a great saying,"When you take off the halter, and take off the rope, what you have is the truth." That is because most of the time when we ask something from a horse, we give it little chance to say no. If you take off the halter, they tell you the answer they'd like to give, which might very well be no. Now, I'm all for my horses having choice, but some rules are important.

Like this one: Stay In The Pasture, a rule that the horse will never follow, not willingly anyway. I don't care how big your place is, the horse wants more. This is because horses are gluttons. They have no "off" switch. Their appestat is on permanent high.

This VIDEO shows Monty tucking into 20 kg of Competition mix after I failed to close a gate and a door, and maybe (okay, I admit it) the feed bin, itself. So, here is my sister quote to match Pat Parelli's: "When you open the gate, and the feed room door, what you have is about 10 minutes before you have to call the vet."

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Are treats okay?

Lots of people ask me whether my horses are so badly behaved because I give them carrots.

Of course I tell them my horses are badly behaved because of a myriad of complicated reasons that have little to do with carrots, but I never manage to convince them. They blame the carrots.

I am not even sure Aristotle would believe me. He'd just set out the following:

Marti gives her her horses carrots.
Marti's horses are badly behaved.
Therefore, carrots make horses badly behaved.

Now, just because he is Aristotle does not make him right. And let's face it, Aristotle was NOT a natural horseman. In fact, I don't remember him ever starting a single colt. And anyway, he married a woman named Pythias and then named their daughter Pythias. That's not very smart, is it?

By contrast, Pat Parelli has started lots of colts and his wife, Linda, has a different name to his daughter. Linda and Pat say it's fine to give your horses carrots. So I do. But if you want to see what my horses REALLY love, have a look at this video.

Are treats okay?

Monday, 21 March 2011

Don't Call My Mare Fat!

Don’t call Millie fat -- she is a mare with a fuller figure. And don’t think I am not aware of just how much she resembles a puffer fish or one of those balloons you buy at the zoo. I know it. The question is what to do about it, as the restricted grazing is not (apparently) restricted enough and the exercise program is not (apparently) vigorous enough. Click here for a video that explains why this may be the case.

Pat Parelli went on the HCG diet. HCG is the hormone that pregnancy tests measure and I can’t quite figure out why this diet is all the rave, but he lost a lot of weight on it by taking small amounts of the hormone and some other stuff I don’t understand, then eating almost nothing all day.

While I don’t really like the sound of the diet, I bet Pat’s horses are happy he took the plunge. I always wondered how a little 14.2 quarter horse deals with a large cowboy aboard, and whether this has something to do with that breed’s impressive slide stop.

But I don’t think the HCG diet will work for Millie. First, all those injections. Second, all those injections. Now that spring is here, I’ve had to get out the fat clothes -- a 6' flysheet even though she's only 14.1 hands (I tell her she looks like an opera diva in it and she believes me)

Black is actually a slimming colour, so at least she has that working for her.

Apparently, a daily exercise program for horses requires a couple of miles of trotting and galloping. This is what I read. I couple of miles of GALLOPING? Are they mad? Where do we do this couple of miles? How do we get the fat horse into gallop?

Millie says she doesn’t want to gallop. She wants to sing. She thinks she can be as good as the soprano, Luisa Tetrazzini, who famously said, “Some singers gotta the figure. But Tetrazzini gotta the voice.”

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Lazy horse? Give them carrots!

Anyone can ride Milo, so long as they don’t want to go anywhere. Milo is a genius at training his riders to give up. “Riding Milo is like kicking a brick down a road,” said one rider. Another explained that this young pony was “just too exhausting.”

By halting and refusing to move, or only walking when continually reminded that going forward is the answer, Milo has cunningly convinced people to move onto bigger, faster, more energetic horses, and to leave him alone.

That gig worked for a long while. But lucky for me, Parelli Natural Horsemanship has some good tips for ponies like Milo. Watch this video to see how to train your lazy, immobile horse to move forward with exuberance and surprising speed, without the use of whips or spurs.

And just in case you don't know already, Parelli Natural Horsemanship does not endorse this video or recommend most anything I am doing here, except to have fun with your horses. (Oh, and they do have a very effective point to point solution within their larger program to motivate "lazy" horses and YES, it does work!)

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Natural Horseman Safety

This picture of me lying half dead after a serious fall from a horse is only an enactment. But had I been riding my horse on the patio and suffered such a fall, I would have joined the nearly 100,000 people per year suffering a horse-related injury.

Does this mean horses are dangerous? Not at all. They almost never kill each other. It’s us who add the dangerous element.

Let’s look at the math:

Horse + nothing = SAFE
Horse + Horse = SAFE
Horse + Human = UNSAFE, EVEN LETHAL. (imagine skull symbol here)

However, had I been riding my horse on the patio this afternoon and taken a tumble, I probably would have been all right. Have a look at this video about Natural Horseman Safety to find out why:

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Video Re-Enactment of Join Up Disaster

Some people may wonder why I settled on Parelli Natural Horsemanship when there is more known about Monty Roberts here in the UK.

I guess I never understood what I was supposed to do after the “join up.” I looked at my horse and said, "So now what?" and he said, "Anything but this again."

I see that Monty Roberts now has an on-line university. For all I know, he has a great program and also, let’s face it, he sure seems a nice cowboy. If you go to his website you’ll see he is helping mustangs in the United States.

See? Nice. A nice guy.

I think the Parelli group might say that "join up" can be a form of not listening to the horse. But they might say something else entirely. You don’t dare ask. If you say “Parelli” to a Monty Roberts/Kelly Marks follower they spit on the ground. If you say "Monty Roberts" to a Parelli follower they spit on you. That’s just how it is with natural horsemanship. They like to spit.

One thing I will say is that Join up isn’t always the safest thing -- at least not if you have a pony like Milo who was a Sumo wrestler in a past life.

To prove my point, here is my video reenactment of Join Up with my enraged pony, Milo. Actually, he was only acting, too. He loves pretending to try to kill me.