Fear by zanhar

When we are young, we are seldom afraid.  I don’t mean the fear of the unknown – the first day of school type of thing that we overcome as we grow in experience and confidence.  I mean that clenching knot in the solar plexus that can’t be reasoned away, because it is fear of the known, of the experience that is proven BAD.  The natural sense of self-preservation that has exploded beyond our attempts at control it can snatch away what has been the joy of our lives – riding.

I was a city girl, but by the time I was 10 I found my way to horses, hung out at a stable, cadged rides with friends, and finally, when I was 16, managed to save the money to buy my own horse and board it.  I had no fear – like most kids I did no end of crazy, wonderful things with my horse and my friends – the bumps, the bruises, and the broken bones never mattered.

1964 – Galloping down the beach…


…and nursing a broken arm.


Horses left my life for 15 years while I married, raised kids and established my career but in my 30s I returned to them.  I reveled in the sport I had loved so long, still bold enough to know no fear packing through the mountains, racing down the beach (although now I was smart enough to wear a helmet!), taking up jumping for the first time.

1994 – A 10-day camping trip    


In the years that followed I noticed a strange thing – many of my riding buddies – all women – started to lose confidence.  They stopped riding as much, eschewed more challenging trails and several sold or retired their horses completely.  When I turned 50, I began to understand – for no reason I could fathom, my confidence started to wane – the old hormones were having their say.  I was not prepared to give in to them and went on riding, eventually we came through that – with a new personal understanding and an undiminished love of the thrills of jumping.  I had suppressed the fear until it went away.

One fateful day, however, it all changed – at a local show I took a fall I could not recover from with guts – I broke my back.  I was off riding for six months and could not stand, sit or walk for more than five minutes at a time.  The pain was indescribable. The surgery was a miracle.  As soon as I got the ‘all clear’ I was back on my horse – but everything had changed.

Just riding into the ring clenched my gut with fear.  I had no core muscles left and wobbled like a new-born.  Since I had just turned 60, the task of rebuilding muscle has been a long, slow battle (going on seven years) but far worse has been the battle against fear.  For a long time I didn’t admit it – I held it inside and tried to deal with it the way I had my previous drop in confidence – I suppressed it.  The first show I went to I had a meltdown in the warm-up ring and my secret was out.  Since then I have attended seminars on fear and one-on-one counseling with a sports psychologist and I have an excellent, understanding coach but the battle still is not won.  I ride comfortably into the ring now – even into the show ring which once sent me into a panic attack.  I have no fear on the trails and even take tumbles in my lessons when I flub stuff and it’s no problem.  But when I face a fence, even an 18” panel I will often white-out freeze.  It happens without warning, sometimes after I have just happily jumped two or three identical fences.  That has ended my competing, even curtailed what I can do in lessons

I still love to ride, and have taken up dressage to challenge myself a different way – but I haven’t given up on jumping.  It was so much fun I’m not willing to let it go.  One day I will beat that last bugaboo.

So what is my point here?  In my heart I know a lot about horses – but in my gut I know about fear and here is what I know: 

  • Fear is a state of mind – but your mind is a powerful thing – don’t discount it.
  • You can hide it – you can suppress it – but that will never cure it.  One day it will explode.
  • You have to bring fear out into the light of day and take it apart and then deal with it one piece at a time
  • Don’t dwell on the incident that caused you pain – stop imagining scenarios where you could be hurt – your mantra should be ‘I am going to be fine’.
  • You are not the only one.  Many people deal with fear – some better than others.  The more years we ride, the greater the chance something has   happened to shake our confidence and the older we are the more we understand the consequences of a wreck.


Let Me Count The Ways…

…in which I want to classify you as an idiot.

  1.  It’s a two year old.
  2.  It’s a little two year old and you’re a big man.
  3.  It’s not a Harley or a La-z-boy you’re sitting on.  Do you think you could at least try to sit straight?
  4.  You’re not supposed to actually sit on the horse’s loin.
  5.  Don’t worry that the horse is crooked and therefore working its muscles unevenly.

If you click on the farm name (doublemfarm) right below the video, it’ll take you to the website where you’ll be happy to know you can find another three dozen videos.  Many of them are along the same lines, including some showing the new acceptable attire when you ride, shorts and running shoes.  I particular enjoyed the ‘show’ video where the ‘good ole boys’ are all riding in their jeans, t-shirts and baseball caps.


But wait!

Is This On Pavement?!

This guy is enjoying his ride going really, really, really, slow.  And as much as I disagree with the approach of the previous two, how this horse got this way HAD to be a crime.


The Ugly: When It Rains, It Pours

So I stumbled over this on FB as well.  Got to hand it to social media nowadays, you can run but you cannot hide any more.


Here is the text that went with the picture:

4-2-22-574- Clydesdale gelding approx 17 hands and 4 years old he has a “hump back” which is most likely genetic but could have been caused by an injury although he doesn’t have any visable scars or signs and it doesn’t seem to bother him. He did take a rider but doesn’t know cue’s picked up his feet willingly.

Note – Clydesdales genetically are prone to this condition It is a convex (upward) curvature of the spine in the area where the loins join the croup (the coupling). It affects collection or lateral bend and the horse will take shorter steps behind, since the vertebrae have less range of motion. The stiffness through the back limits both its up and down motion and its ability to bend laterally (side to side). Some improvement is possible through exercises, but these horses are better off in a companion/light work that doesn’t require collection and/or bending.

here is a picture of another horse with roach back-  http://i23.tinypic.com/10xzk9l.jpg

Instructions Placement/Proof of ownership form:  http://www.ac4h.com/BOABC.htm


Video: http://youtu.be/xE6eMH0o294

Payment/Donation link: http://www.ac4h.com/ac4hdonate.htm

To me there’s a really interesting blend of ignorance and knowledge in that descriptive bit.  From reading the comments that followed, this poor fellow was purchased by a kill buyer (currently still owned by that kill buyer) for $50.  Now, these people AC4H Broker Horses are advertising him for sale for $500 as a ‘light’ riding horse per their video of him.  One person comments: I saw this horse and felt him all over at Middleburg sale. He is in an immense amount of pain hot all over and tense.

You’ll have to scroll a little down their FB page to find this horse, but it appears these people sell horses owned by kill buyers.  Surprisingly the horse moves way better than I thought he would.  Besides the obvious spinal issue, he’s got issues with those back feet.  The left one is severely split and I can’t imagine this horse has been able to pick up those hind feet in a very long time to have them attended to.

I don’t know what to say at this point, other than I really do want to pop ‘her’ in the mouth for saying; ‘Look at that animation.  He sure does pick them up high.’  Really?  Well, I guess it’s a selling feature that he doesn’t fall on his face.

Unfortunately, this led me to another video of a whole other variety, which led me to a website.  I seriously do not have enough energy to punch all the people I want to.  I would like to know, though, if Clydesdale’s do actually carry a genetic structural defect like this.  If so, what lines and what’s being done to get it out of the breed?

The Bad: Georgia Mare Has Twins

Anyone here from Georgia that could find out some additional information for us?  This 20-something Paint mare gave birth to twins recently.  It was featured on NBC and the result was an outcry from the public on the mare’s condition.

Here’s a link to the FB page of Horse Plus Humane Society that has a bit of an update.  The link to the actual NBC coverage is on that page as well, but I’ve linked it below for the Internet challenged.

NBC Coverage

I’m not entirely satisfied with the follow-up information.   An ‘accidental’ breeding can be ‘purposely’ looked after with a few medications so there’s not an ‘accidental’ foal.   Guess it was also an ‘accident’ she had twins, right?  And an ‘accident’ she’s so underweight and depressed.  As in, you were too cheap to ‘purposely’ have her ultra-sounded, and then ‘purposely’ have the twin pinched off, and finally to ‘purposely’ feed her appropriately?  There is a reason why twins are rare in equines and why we ‘purposely’ try to avoid that possibility. 


I Like My Men…



Wolverine, Dean Winchester, James Bond. When I’m embracing my inner damsel-in-distress, I need a real man to come to my rescue and save me, even if only in my dreams.

The guy in the following video is clearly tough; look, no helmet. We might even argue the shirtlessness makes him fearless, though, I think it crosses the stupid line.  But what removes him as a candidate from my tough guy list (because even in my dreams I have standards) is the fact that he thought this was okay to do in the first place.  I love the disclaimer below the video; “I don’t usually train them this way, but…” Uh, huh. Whatever, dude. My only regret is that it was your girlfriend/sister/booty-call who got lawn-darted and not you, although if she’s the one that proclaimed at the 1:37 mark of the video; ‘Look at her, she’s broke!” then maybe getting tossed on her head helped in some small way.

Quick Break!  Really? 

Here are some more tough men. Real ‘ca-boys’. It’s a 9-minute video, and to be honest I didn’t get past the 1-minute mark. So maybe it gets better? All I could see was terrified prey animals trying with all their might to get away to safety. Then I thought about all the soft tissue and skeletal trauma that was happening, while their heads were being pulled around and they were being yanked off balanced.  Shame on every single person in the stands who are clapping and cheering. 

Wild Horse Race – *Gag Me*

But wait!  We start’em young.

Future Tough Guys

I don’t want to pick on just the folks on this side of the ocean, so here are some of our Spanish brethren showing that barbarianism exists in all cultures. Such despicable treatment of horses in this day and age is unacceptable. I want to terrorize every single one of them and yank them around until they are mentally and emotionally broken.

The Spanish Version

And here’s the same thing, but packaged with some pretty accented talk and Elvis Presley eyes.

Outback Version

I think that last offends me the most.   “Because we have so many horses to get through in such a short time….”  Well, gosh, in that case you’re totally justified in your methods; it’s for their own good.  Let me take some notes:

  1. When I want a prideful horse to trust me, I make sure he’s confused and scared then force him to submit into the most defenseless position he instinctively knows.  Petting him on the neck then, pretending I give a shit, seals the deal.
  2. Breaking-in is okay, especially if I don’t have much time.  Even though the definition of break (v) is: to separate into parts, as in to damage by separating into parts.  And if that’s not clear, then how about this list of synonyms: smash, fracture, rupture, shatter, split, crack, sever.  Oh, yeah.  I’m all about breaking-in horses.
  3. If at first you get face planted; try, try again because clearly what you’re doing is working.

I still like my men tough, but I also like them to respect animals and treat them accordingly.  If my man baby talks to an animal when he doesn’t think anyone is looking, all the better.

Real Men Are Kind To Animals – And So Are Tough Men

Do not fear male readers of Hooves, I’m getting to the ladies…