Recently I’ve been inundated with videos of bad riding – thanks so ever much, Amy. Mostly it’s apparent that it’s unintended, based in ignorance, lack of good instruction, practise and/or natural talent. We’ve all been there and I can only hope that as time passes, people learn, and things improve. The following video, though, bothers me far more than many of the rest. There’s a willful intent to use the horse as a toy to show off. It’s as if a bunch of men dropped their drawers and slapped their manhoods on a table to see whose measured biggest…and this guy lost.
Yes, that is suppose to be ‘reining’ with rollbacks and sliding stops. Praise the horse (this one and the entire species) for putting up with such ego-based chest thumping disguised as *cough* riding. ‘Look, Ma! Look at what I can do!’
There are another half dozen videos from the same poster showing more head shaking, jigging, bucking, bad preparation for jumping and a fair bit of just ‘run ’em’ – much of it sans helmet (which might prove to be Karma’s last laugh when all is said and done). I remain confused by the artistic presentation, entirely unaware of the thought process that went into the editing, but mostly I’m confused by the moments of real affection shown for the horse mixed with treatment no better than that of a five year old riding their tricycle over their plastic pail and shovel. Somebody enlighten me.
You might have missed the age a bit, more like a twelve year old. I didn’t see a bit of mean spiritedness out of that rider, just a lot of truly atrocious horsemanship skills. He likes that horse and he is playing cowboy. He’s absolutely thrilled to be up there when he’s clearly not physically fit enough, has no idea of how he should ride or cue the horse. And that horse accepts with minimal issues because horses are just that way. I have long said that for every rider still alive there is a very forgiving horse.
Most riders imitate what they see without understanding how a horse should move, what is correct, and because of the lack of horsemanship generally, lack of qualified instructors, etc., most of what people imitate is crappy riding to begin with.
What is truly important is probably what we will never know. If Bob was given an opportunity to learn, would he take it? Would he work to lose a few pounds, improve his balance and flexibility, improve his hands. and learn the kinds of lessons you try to teach at this blog? If he thinks he’s close to perfect and doesn’t think he has anything to learn, then he’s the loser in the long run, he will hurt his horse over time as it works against Bob’s body and its own to try to stay with him, and he will never improve and the horse will probably sour on him (with good reason). Pity the horse of every owner who thinks they don’t need to improve.
I like the horse though. I’d find the nicest, softest snaffle in the world and ride her with the softest hands in the world. She’d be my friend for life. She’s really cute.
I agree Kate – the horse is pretty and sweet. Just look how quickly she responds with softness in those rare moments when Bob relaxes the rein. Look at how she leaps forward when he asks. She wants to please. I can’t imagine that her forgiving, willing attitude will last very long under this kind of riding.
JRGA – did you notice the comment from Bob’s “friend” (who posted the video) about “his horse, his rules, don’t tell him how to ride?”. If Bob has the same attitude as those he associates with and permits to post videos of him and his horse, then sadly, it does not seem that Bob is interested in learning to ride any better. Someone get Bob a motorcycle, please.
Probably not, which makes him exactly like about 90% of the horse owners in America, the professional trainers, and the horse racing industry that no one cared to criticize a couple weeks ago.
And mostly they were aware that Bob is a terrible rider, but he loves it. This is a common problem, get into any board where an overweight and ackward rider is on a horse and many will defend their ‘right’ to ride. And, while not prevalent here, in society the attitude is that horses are property and may be treated as the owner wishes including a fair amount of abuse.
Bob is not the worst of the worst, he isn’t particularly disturbing. He is average. And until more people can grasp why that should be so disturbing, and why it is disturbing, but how much more disturbing the highly educated abuse in the for profit use of horses is, I’m not sure why we are pointing at him in particular.
That’s not fair to say. I know I’ve said some really critical things about the race industry over the years. I don’t control who posts at any given time here so that there’s the right ‘balance’ of indignation or praise for a given topic/article.
I am not really trying to point at you, more than just you posted in the race blog, more people are posting here, more people posted in the past in similar blogs.
It just seems to me that some of these threads, that could be more educational devolve into ‘isn’t that horrible, I would never do that’, instead of really looking at what is happening, being critical in a positive way, what is wrong, is it intentional, bad technique, and what does the horse have to say about it?
I wonder if the reason is that they don’t know what needs to change, or they don’t know how or what to do to make a change?
How do we stop or change the racing of babies? It’s hypocritical really to condemn the industry when we send our own children to be coached in hopes they’ll go to the Olympics or get on the ‘A’ team. And they get drugged along the way. And they are often physically spent before they reach adulthood. What we do to racehorses, we do to ourselves.
Some of the answer is that we (the little guy) don’t ride our own horses at 2 years of age, or ride them like Bob. That’d be a start, no?
stop the racing industry, stop betting, stop watching, take away the money and it will die. In some ways, I don’t want it to die, I want people to be able to breed racing type horses. So you need races.or what is the point. How do we make it better rather than stop it, we need to change something fundamental in our society, where we learn to value things without some of the western values where extrinsic value is not just primary about virtually exclusive. We need to emphasize science and facts again in schools, I believe therefore it is, is no way to approach the world.
I think that horse people need to realize all futurities are bad for horses, and made worse because most people don’t know the facts about how and when horses mature, how their bodies are supposed to operate, what is correct. And yes, much of this can be fixed by education and some certification in the US for hanging out a shingle as a horse trainer, rules with teeth for the racing and breed associations so bad trainers are banned, training for judges so bad riding isn’t rewarded, etc.
It won’t be easy. It won’t ever be finished, it is an ongoing battle.
How much time have you spent,( or I spent) explaining what a correctly moving horse look likes, what is good conformation, correct posture, etc.? How much do you feel people have really absorbed? In the last 20 years can you point to five people, ten, fifty, one hundred who got it? You got it and turned your life upside down in some ways to pursue it.
And of course we shouldn’t, the back yard owners, the amatuer show enthusiasts, we shouldn’t: ride our horses at two, want to win ribbons instead of achieving competence, be afraid to be different than average owners, stop trying to get better, etc.; or try to get our kids to the Olympics without changing what the Olympics is at this point.
She’s nice. But the softest snaffle with the softest hands doesn’t even touch the surface of what a rider really needs to bring to the table. What else could you offer her?
Regarding the rest of this person’s youtube account: Looks like a horse-crazy young lady who likes to make videos of herself and her friends and their horses. The editing and the sappy titles of the videos are pretty typical of “the kids these days”. Most of the riding looks pretty average to me. Lots of it seems to be show footage – with helmets. Horses all look in good weight, well cared for, clean, appropriately turned out for lower-level shows in the show footage. I don’t fully grasp why young people enjoy so much to make and share videos like this but I know plenty of wonderful young people with the same hobby. Nothing worthy of outrage.
There are over 100 videos, many are the girl and girl with her girlfriends riding w/o helmets at high speed with horse’s threatening to buck. But how does this one look to you? All good?
(Okay, I can’t link to the video, but if you click on the poster it’ll give a list of the 111 videos they’ve posted. Video 20 called ‘Bad Touch’. Watch that one.
And while at quick glance the horse look decent, the above video lets you see these horses without tack and they are all sporting inverted musculature and posture with loin and sacral injuries.
Can i please buy that poor Appy?? That is the most freakin’ tolerant horse I’ve ever seen. 😦
You found the ‘Bad Touch’ video, eh?
With that one it looks like they are actively trying to scare the Appy. If you stop at 45 seconds or so and watch the video from there, you’ll see someone jump out from the corner of the screen with a branch of brush swinging at the horse while from the other direction there’s the genius with the noodle.
I can’t watch that. Why that horse doesn’t blast that bitch between the eyes is beyond me.
Great, these people are typical. But how many professionals horses show inverted musculature and injury? How many OTTB show it, cow ponies, hunters, dressage horses even at high levels.
My point here is that we are discussing people, these people are ‘bad’. We aren’t discussing what is good horsemanship and showing the difference between bad and good. We get to stroke our egoes that we are superior but this does nothing to further the knowledge of people who read this blog. We aren’t making anything better.
You have posted a tonne of stuff, how many of the regular followers here have internalized the messages and started to change how they ride? Maybe we should have a survey day.
I get enough e-mails and requests for help privately that I’m still here.
Step 1 is being able to recognize that something’s wrong. If this isn’t wrong to you (general) then I can’t help you.
Step 2 is recognizing yourself in the wrongness.
Step 3 is wanting to change and do better.
Step 4 is doing better.
It’s not until we get to this point does it even matter what’s good horsemanship.
It’s not fair to say we don’t talk about what’s good horsemanship, because we do. It just happens to be a whole lot harder to find examples of what’s good because people tend to be happy being ‘average’.
I am not trying to slam you or even bringing these videos to light. I am convinced however that we have to get to step 4 before talking about good horsemanship. People have to know what good looks like so they can say, “I like that, I want that”. And, yes, good is rare, in fact, most people don’t see it often and because it is so rare, they just might think it is ‘bad’. Because if it was really all that good, more people would be doing it and we would know all about it, right? And you I and I know that last statement is untrue.
And I didn’t mean to be dismissive of the other points in your list because they are all important points.
WIth number 1, frequently it is not something “wrong” with how the person perceives their or even their horse’s intentional behavior. It is a nagging injury, a slight offness, an ‘inability’ of the horse to do ‘x’ no matter how much training or preparation is devoted to the activity. When you tell that person, you ride like crap, you need to learn to ride, chances are they quit listening and go in search for their cure elsewhere. (And this is the general ‘you’ which should be ‘one’ but that sounds so stuffy). This also explains why there might be years between awareness of Step 1 and awareness of Step 2. *BEG*
I would also add Step 3.a. The entire emotional breakdown necessary for you to see the horses and essentially the world, in a whole new way. You can practice technique ad nauseum, but you have to come to terms with some fundamental issues within yourself before you really get good at doing better. And I don’t say better, because it’s a journey, not a destination. You have to let go of anger, impatience, any sense that you are in any way superior to the horse in learning how to move correctly. You are different from the horse, and you have to be the one to set the boundaries in the relationship, you will lead. That means that you have a different job, not that you are superior. Because if these videos prove anything, it is that few people are fit to be around horses let alone superior to the animals we see here.
Ok wow, I watched a bunch of the videos but I did not watch all 111 and I did not see “Bad Touch” until now. The behavior in this video is dumb, but the Appy seems a tolerant type. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I think these people know enough about horses that they chose to fool around like idiots with a horse they knew would let them get away with it. Still stupid. Still a poor example to put on youtube for people to think is an okay way to act around horses.
That said… in my life I’ve done my share of goofing around with a tolerant horse. I’ve never tail-skied (and I think that is crossing a line), but let she who has never climbed onto a good horse bareback, bridleless and helmetless, throw the first stone. The crucial distinction is that I never recorded it and put it on youtube. My moments of goofiness with a trusted horse, where I let all the rules and shoulds go for a moment, are private.
Sure the horse is tolerant, until its not and kicks their head in. Then all of a sudden the horse is the bad guy and ‘out of the blue’ he attacked. A person thinking this is a good idea isn’t thinking; ‘I know this horse is a tolerant sort and won’t mind’. Indeed, they aren’t thinking at all. There is a history of behavior in these videos that clearly starts with a parent/parents who think horses are toys. Speaking of parents…they’ve let their daughter post this on the Internet? I’ve torn a strip of students of this age for far less, if this was my kid I can’t even begin to describe what I’d do to her and there’s not a chance this would be on the Internet.
I would agree with you 100% if I saw “Bad Touch” in isolation… but I watched a bunch of the videos, same the same girls, interacting with various horses and only the Appy gets the tail-skiing. I already said that I think it was stupid and the tail-skiing crosses a line. But my best guess from the context of the videos is that it was a conscious decision to be stupid with that particular horse because he was most likely to tolerate it. When I was a similarly stupid horse-crazy girl, my friends and I tormented one friend’s sweetheart senior Arab when we were the mood for shenanigans rather than the OTTBs that the rest of us had. It’s stupid to do this with any horse, but it’s a lot more stupid with some horses than others.
As far as getting angry at the parents… these are not young children. Those girls are at least mid-teens and may even be young adults. Are you currently parenting teenagers in the internet age? I’m not, but I know enough parents of teens to understand that parenting decisions around the internet are not so simple. This is a young lady that appears to spend her time with her friends and their horses, outside, having fun, participating in a sport, and then making and sharing videos about those fun times. She could be making videos where she takes her clothes off and asks men to send her money; girls do that too, so if I were a parent of teens I’d like to think I would pick my battles wisely.
I am not parenting a teenager of my own, but I have parented those belonging to other adults from time to time. It’s not that hard in my experience, and it’s even easier when you start parenting them before they can talk back. 🙂 But that’s a whole other topic for an entirely different blog.
That appy wasn’t particularly disturbed by anything that was happening. Why?
I have a friend who owns a boarding barn. (Barn sits on a curve in the road and fairly close to the road.) A 12 yr old girl brought two friends to visit her horse. My friend is in the house cooking supper when she notices the bubble lights in the driveway. Two police cars! She goes out to investigate. Turns out the girls were popping out from behind the barn ‘mooning’ the traffic! (At least no horses were embaresed/harmed in this incident!)
kids’ ideas of fun can be pretty messed up from an adult perspective. But horses are more intuitive about where people are coming from. They respond to the feel more than the actions. And they have no problem with showing their butts when warranted.
What’s really sad and awful is that this guy clearly thinks that he’s doing a good job and being a master horseman. Look at his enthusiastic face and posture! And yes Merc, you are welcome for that video. 🙂
There is about two seconds of video halfway through of someone riding the appy with a bit, and that is pretty ugly. But mostly, probably what we’re seeing here is a desire to do liberty work, to interact with the horse free, with no idea how to go about it in a productive way.
The sad thing is that these girls would probably love love love the idea of being able to get on and actually ride patterns with a neck rope or even no tack at all, but they aren’t anywhere near being on a track that would lead them there. They would probably also love love love any fun groundwork, real liberty work, or trick training, climbing up on boxes, etc. Maybe even vaulting! But like when I was growing up, there probably aren’t any lessons at all, or none worth taking, in the vicinity.
However, messy and dangerous as it looks, actually all that vaulting on, falling off, chasing around, at liberty, isn’t really particularly scary or painful to a horse that knows his people are just playing and in fact aren’t actually trying to make him do anything in particular. Horses in my experience like interacting with people at liberty. He’s being chased, but not punished, and there are no expectations for how he should behave, so he can’t do anything “wrong.” Besides, the riders never stay on long enough to be a burden! Not sure about water-skiing on the tail, though.
I also believe there really is some kind of guardian angel looking out for teenage girls or *none* of them would live to voting age.
These girls have had instruction. There’s videos of them in lessons (and promptly crashing in those lessons).
jrga wants us to talk about what is good horsemanship. Well, that starts with not purchasing a horse without having your ducks in a row. You don’t buy a horse if you can’t also provide instruction for your daughter, so that she might learn how to vault in a safe environment, with a helmet and flak jacket, on a horse that’s specifically trained for it.
Just because we might have gotten away with something as a child, doesn’t mean we should purposely put, or encourage our children to be in similar be stupid situations…they’ll be stupid enough on their own without the help of parents.
Vaulters don’t use helmets or vests. They are considered a possible hanging hazard and to interfere with the ability to roll/tuck. They do use appropriate horses, trained instructors and a controlled environment, so I agree with the rest of your post, but sending your kid to quality vaulting instruction means helmets and vests will not be used past the very basic introduction stage (Vault Canada recommends helmets for the first 10 hours of instruction only).
…past the very basic instruction stage… We’ll talk when these girls have that. 🙂
i’m a little shocked at the posts here. i’ve only watched the two videos linked, both pretty horrific imo. i am much more offended by the teenage girls. they MUST know what they are doing isn’t kind to the horse. that comments are disabled says volumes to me.
the large guy, horrible as it is, maybe doesn’t know any better.
i have a teenage daughter. it is NOT hard to parent them in the internet age. they don’t have to post videos of tormenting a horse, or taking their clothes off. there is a third option, of spending time with their horses, friends, sports, academics, arts, etc, and not needing to gain attention of any sort on the internet.
yes, i’ve also jumped on many horses bareback and helmetless. i’ve played stupid games with them at liberty. never have i flung myself at and on them in an unfamiliar way, had others chase the horse, or other crap just because i had a horse tolerant enough kicking around.
i will also say that mercedes has helped me several times over the years, and don’t for a second doubt that her posts make a difference in the well being of horses.
she is one of the very few internet posters who i believe truly care about horses, enough to put her own ego aside, and bite her tongue to help horses and horse owners, rather than just pontificating about their superiority.
and yet, the appy wasn’t afraid, wasn’t angry, wasn’t distressed, and kept agreeing to engage with these teenagers. The expert in the video has not yet been consulted. What is the horse saying about this?
I’ve known Mercedes a long time, we sometimes get testy but we are in fundamental agreement about just about everything. This isn’t about her. Again, this isn’t about people per se at all. It is about the horses. So let’s examine these videos keeping the horses’ up front, not us.
That’s a fair point, jrga. The horse isn’t protesting or running away – in fact the girls are having to ‘chase’ it with noodles and tree branches because it would rather just stand there. The horse isn’t otherwise giving obvious signals that things are not okay. One might even say the horse is actively engaging in the play with the kids, though, I’d not entirely agree with that. I’d call it resignation of the kind – the sooner I cooperate, the sooner they’ll leave me alone.
However, horses will do ‘this’ (tolerate) a lot even when being purposely mistreated. That is their nature, to get along. They’ll try to a fault to respond to the constant kicking and jerking of rider. They’ll try to a fault as school horses and tolerant unbalanced riders with noisy legs. And sometimes they’ll do it all for long periods of times, years even. Until they won’t. It’s like the dog who’ll roughhouse with the child, until it bites the child in the face.
Horses are not toys and should not be treated as such, regardless if in the moment they seem to be compliant. Young ladies of this age group, without some medical brain condition, know that without being specifically told. And let’s not forget to mention that weighting the tail like that can cause injury to the horse.
horses always show what they are feeling, and I think tension is there even in resignation. The appy didn’t pin his ears, they were generally forward and up, engaged, he didn’t lift a foot, crinkle up his mouth or get rigid in the chin, when moving out in response to the noodle, he frequently had a nice rainbow arc to his tail, it was not crooked or tight at all. A nervous unhappy horse can clamp his tail so tight you can’t even lift it. This horse IMO was part of the play. How many times have I had or seen someone else’s horse, all tacked up, being held, still jig away from being mounted? Horses play, and they play hard and they play rough, they rear at each other, land on each other’s backs, run, kick, slap, bite, etc. We need to step back and ask if this appy thought those kids were too rough, or do we see it as too rough.
And then that brings us back to another important point that we often overlook when we do out text book discussions of good technique, etc. Intent. Feel. It is hugely important to horses and how they react to people and what is being asked of them by people. This horse wan’t being scared, there was no intent to scare him, just to get him to move out fast. The kids were waving things but not slapping him. He wasn’t being attacked in anger, no one was impatient, forceful, hurtful in the play on the ground. Someone pointed out the difference when the bit was in his mouth, because that was not the same experience as the other rough play.
Were these kids taking a risk to play this way, yes, they were. Would an instructor ever suggest this as ‘good’, no. Tail skiing can cause an injury. Manipulating a tail should be done with care and not so much weight as an anchor. Now the appy did show bad muscle development over the topline. The kids should be finding more productive ways to play that would help that horse and still be fun. But what we shouldn’t overlook is that whatever we think, the horse said this was ok, it wasn’t building up to an explosion. It was part of the play. Ultimately, we all need to judge what is happening in any given scenario by what the horse says. They are the best teachers, they are the proof in the pudding.
Bob’s horse presents some really great lesso’s as well. It illustrates great points about balance, how what may look like resistance or anger in the horse is in fact a horse doing its best to save the ass on its back. That video is a goldmine. And that still doesn’t make Bob right or a good rider, etc. But he makes the same mistakes most riders make, but they are so exaggerated, it is easy to see why braces in the rider, imbalance, a clinging leg, using the reins for balance, drive a horse to move in ways opposite of our intent.