You know I see and hear so many thoughtless comments about horses, the good old days need to return! So many people are missing so much because they are not being taught to care for their horse's emotional state and not just his body. Riders are so interested in what they can get out of their horse, but what about what they put into the horse?
Let me explain what I mean. Years ago as a young teenager I was taught by a marvelous lady called Pamela Goodwin, who was Irish, and whose husband was posted to Jamaica in the days when we were still a colony. She had the job of teaching the Mounted Police to ride. She also ran a riding school on the grounds and later when her husband retired, they moved to the town I lived in and started a riding school there. Pamela was a consummate horsewoman, and I am eternally grateful for the things she taught me. We learned to ride in a small oval ring, where the school ponies put up with us bouncing around with no reins or stirrups, until we learned to balance- and then we were given reins. Once we were in control of our horses, and could ride all 3 gaits with no stirrups, we graduated to the bigger arena, where those slow old ponies suddenly came to life and moved forward! We had to groom and tack up our own horses, and if we were the last lesson of the day, we rode the horses home down the road and gave a hand with the untacking, feeding and cleaning of tack at the end of the day, until our parents came to pick us up. We loved those times, as we got to spend time with our horses - and smell their sweat in the sweet hot sun. We were taught to run our hands all over our horses, including the legs, to feel for areas of heat, cold or lumps. It was a daily body check. All bits were washed, buckets cleaned and all put away ready for the next day. Pamela would have taken our heads off if we had put a horse away with a saddle sweat mark still!
Nowadays, much of this is missing, and along with it, the empathy and true understanding of the horse is hard to fine these days. The biggest lesson to me was how important good school horses are, and they are worth their weight in gold! People focus so much on their show horses, but the average school horse will earn more money for you in a lifetime of lessons than most show horses!! I believe the school horse is the hero, and mine were always given the same time, love and good care as the expensive show horse - how can we repay them for putting up with all those unbalanced riders for years on end? The kids who put their tack on wrong, or don't pick the feet out correctly? They put up with so much, and they can make or break a person's relationship with horses for the rest of their life. I put a great deal of effort and schooling into my lesson horses, and I teach my riders to be aware of the horse's moods, feelings and physical issues. We need to create more conscious riders, and more consciousness!!
Good horsemanship has safety and sound economics built in, and the profits are there, as your investment lasts longer, and the riding accidents were decreased. I have never let go of the principles Pamela taught me, and unlike so many trainers and riders today, she never blamed her horse! Pam had exacting standards aimed at herself, and always examined if she could have changed the outcome if she had changed how she did things. This self-evaluating type of rider is the one who has the best results especially with difficult horses, they are always trying to tell us something, and we have to figure that out! Till next time - the Horselady!