The two ladies were heading down the hacking track toward me, they were talking loudly which caused me to look over. One of them was riding a horse, the actual owner was walking beside the horse holding onto both reins. It was apparent by the rider’s position that she was a novice. It begs the question why was a novice sat on a horse that needed 2 pairs of hands on its reins? As they passed me I heard the owner informing the rider that with this horse you had to show him who was the boss, to be firm and not to take any nonsense.
I carried on watching as I knew there was about to be a problem as the horse looked uncomfortable, he was head high and his steps were tentative. I was waiting for him to pull backwards as he had every right to do so. With the owners hands being in that position the horse was essentially being led from pressure below and behind the chin. The movement occurring in that horse’s mouth must have been very distressing, at best confusing if not a painful experience with 4 hands yanking on his bit.
The horse reared up. I watched the owner more than the rider as she was the one shouting. She stepped away horrified, only then did she let go. This is yet another situation where a rider puts their trust in a human that allegedly has horse knowledge. However at the moment the owner became scared, and out of her depth… she stepped away. If indeed that horse had any nonsense on its mind, the situation would have ended catastrophically for the rider.
The threesome turned around and headed for home. Again they passed me and I could hear the owner verbally berating the horse. It hadn’t reared out of malice though as I’m fairly sure horses have no such emotion (or any concept of what nonsense may mean). This wasn’t a horse that had bolted once the owner let go, it wasn’t even napping. It simply wanted the pressure in its mouth to stop.
I felt bad for the animal and I mentally apologised to it on behalf of the entire human race.
This owner was not new to horses either, she had been at this particular yard for 20 years. Yet she had no knowledge or understanding of what her hands were doing, and was quite prepared to take a novice out into open country-side on a horse which in her words needed to be treated firmly. Also its worth noting in the 2 years I was a livery at this yard, I hadn’t seen the owner hack this horse out, not once.
It seems in some cases an equestrian is regarded as experienced because they have knowledge on types of feed, supplements, how to muck out, bandage and tack up. Yet the horse trainers I am aware of (which I would trust with my life) probably couldn’t even name one brand of hoof oil, or know how to tie a tail bandage. But they understand the animal fully, their instincts, behaviour and psychology. Yet it is common for a potential rider to approach and pay a person for a lesson or hack that has more knowledge of caring for horses, rather than someone that actually understand how horses tick.
Two weeks later I am stood in my stable and I hear more horse-berating occurring. The person is attempting to lead a horse by a rope attached to the bit. She is at least 3 feet in front of the horse and pulling on the rope like she is in a tug of war contest. I point out to her the saddle has slipped and is now sitting on the side of the horse. This particular animal knew something was occurring that felt different on its back, so did not want to move forward. Far from being a stupid horse then as I’ve seen saddles slip before and the horse take flight bucking wildly. However this intelligent animal stopped and waited for someone to notice…while tolerating a metal bit that was being pulled repeatedly. The saddle was adjusted and the horse obediently walked forward.
The same day I was walking passed the arena. There were several small jumps set up and 2 children are riding their horses. For reasons unknown to me one child does not ask for canter in the conventional way but trots to the corner and uses her whip to ask instead. As she reached behind her to smack the horses flank she does not give with the rein and the horse was subsequently socked in the mouth with the bit.
The horse which I assume was reacting out of pain threw its head to the floor and stopped dead, the child took a short flight and landed in front of his head. Within 1 minute there was a group of people standing around the crying child. However the horse which was now standing in the corner with its reins on the floor was completely ignored. It’s worth noting also the horse hadn’t gone to the gate, leaving the arena wasn’t on its mind. Sadly no one seemed interested in checking that the horse wasn’t injured and in pain, or even removing its tack and taking it out of the arena. When asked what had happened I could hear the second child informing the adults that the horse had thrown the girl off.
Again I mentally apologised to it on behalf of the entire human race, but as ever…the horse always gets the blame.