Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What Is My Duty To the Horse?

Of course, horses are entitled to proper food, shelter and veterinary/farrier care. They should also be treated as creatures with emotions and feelings, and subjected to pain and fear as little as possible - sometimes veterinary procedures can be uncomfortable - but pain and fear should never be used as a training method, and equipment, including bits and spurs, should never be used in a way that produces pain or fear.

But I think there may be more than that in terms of duty to the horse. I feel a need to be sure that my horses can be handled by other people - good ground manners are a must - and I work to be sure they are manageable for the vet and farrier. No one wants a horse that kicks the vet or farrier, or runs people over. I guess that's what it comes down to for me - if something were to happen to me I want my horses to have the basic manners and training that would not leave them homeless.

With my horses that are not retired, I want them to be rideable at all three gaits, without fits or major difficulties. Would either Dawn or Maisie be suitable for a beginner to ride? No - except perhaps when they're ancient and creaky, and maybe not even then. But I'd like an experienced rider to be able to get on and safely ride them (perhaps after a little lungeing to burn off energy). Eventually I'd like to get both of them to the point that they could do more than that, but we've still got a ways to go. This of course requires that I take care of their other needs such as dental, saddle fit and chiropractic.

I feel I owe my horses this duty - to work towards them being rideable even if I'm not there to do it. I don't care if they can ever compete, and someday they'll be too old and will need to be retired, but as long as they're young enough and sound enough, I need to work hard to achieve these goals. This is part of my motivation in moving Maisie, and likely Dawn at a later date, to a barn with facilities that will permit me to ride almost every day. Both Maisie and Dawn are horses which require consistent work to remain rideable and improve from there.

15 comments:

  1. I agree with everything you just said. I think it is very important to teach and ensure a horse has manners. Especially because like you said, you never know what might happen. In my case, I was very lucky to inherit a beautiful horse with amazing manners. I never thought I would be in the situation of a good friends parents offering me the horse of their daughter who was killed in a wreck. But from this side of things, it is very important...everything you said :)

    Just started reading your blog and I really enjoy it so far!

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  2. Good post. All of our horses have manners. We insist on that. Horses are too huge and powerful not to have manners.

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  3. I agree, as well. And would add this corollary: I won't sell my young horses to someone who doesn't have the experience and confidence to work with them safely. Because even young horses with manners can be stupid--they're young, after all!

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  4. what a timely post for me. I was just talking to a co worker about the very subject. We were thinking of the horrible possibility of if something were to happen to us-- are our animals educated enough to be manageable by others? We were talking dogs but the same (if more so) applies to horses. I have been feeling anxiety to "finish" my horse. Make sure he picks up his leads, can hop over a course, and navigate a trail ride safely. I of course make sure he is cared for now, but the best thing we can do for our horses is instill skills that will make them valuable for others. Just in case. I am a worrier.

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  5. I currently own two model equine citizens, but I know how quickly manners unwind.

    I'm glad your moving to a place where you can enjoy your time more. I look forward to hearing how the move goes.

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  6. I think Breathe's words "model equine citizen" should be what we aim for as horse owners. It's a good starting point at least.

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  7. Yes Kate, I do agree as well with all you said. My mare is very well behaved with a leader leading her. I had to learn that!

    I miss having an acceptable arena to work in as well! So much I am not able to do...I am glad you are going to be able to have that again.
    I will only move my mare again...if there is plenty of turn out and trails nearby...she has blossomed where we board now.. after being stalled for the 4 years I have had her with me..this past year, being in the open environment much like she was raised in for the 10 years before she came to me- she is so much healthier..yet more full of her self.

    You will know soon enough, that you have made the right decision Kate.
    KK

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  8. Couldn't agree more!!!!!!!

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  9. I like the idea of training my horse to be the best she can be. That way, if anything terrible were to happen to me, she'd have a better chance at landing in a good situation. I remember a long time ago, when I had just gotten Lilluy and was frustrated trying to teach her the side pass, I said : Oh she doesn't really need to kow how to sidepass! And my horse guiy Bill quickly said IF SHE'S GOING TO LIVE HERE SHE DOES! and that was the end of my slacking!

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  10. So true. Manners come in the form of a 'safer' horse. I love working on manners with my boy, for that very fact that I would want anyone to be able to stand near him without fearing for them.
    Riding or handling daily is the very best..I struggle with having Laz so far away and only being able to see him 3-5 times a week sometimes. The 3 x a week is when I hate it. Having your horses at a place where u can ride daily will be HUGE. :)

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  11. I totally agree with your post! My guy's manners are a work in progress, but I will persevere.

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  12. I whole heartedly agree with this post. I think every horse needs to be able to be their own safety nets of sorts if they are still sound and able to be ridden. I suspect you are probably being harder on Dawn and Maisie than necessary, they are both lovely horses that seem to have a desire to please.

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  13. Kate - You're absolutely right about this. I had another thought in regards to our duty to our horses. We owe it to them to be sure that everyone who comes in contact with them treats the horse with respect and kindness. It was my one complaint when I boarded my horses, and it's really hard when there are lots of different people mucking and watering and feeding and turning-out the horses. All it takes is one incident to create a fear or problem that didn't previously exist. Now that my horses are with me at home, I am able to oversee whenever someone else has any contact with them. It's made a big difference in the way that Silk and SIete are calmer and friendlier to everyone who comes to see us.

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