Equestrian riding and old cowboys

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September 11, 2013 – Jerry Finch

Land Rover UK is doing a set of videos on equestrian riding and sponsors a number of equestrian events in England. This video, number two in the series, really hit me because of the skill the rider has with her horse. While I know absolutely nothing about the equestrian discipline, I have long admired the coordination and skill that must come from both the many hours of training and the strong bond that develops between the horse and rider.

To an old cowboy who spent his youth riding fence lines and herding horses, trying to understand the difference between a “running walk” and a “stepping pace” is a little bit difficult, but what I do know is what happens when you and your horse become one. It might happen in the show ring for some, or it might happen when you’re trying to find the best spot for a camp after a long day on the trail. Suddenly you just know that it’s there. Your horse comes when you call, walks beside you as a friend and companion, and understands what you want and need – there is truly nothing like it. 

A lot of my time is spent on the negative side of life. During the day I’m surrounded by the sick, wounded, starved and neglected horses we bring in through law enforcement. In the evenings I settle down before the computer and start working on either the horse slaughter issue or trying to have an effect on those who seek the destruction of our wild horses. During all of that I’m continually confronted with the fact that far too many people have never felt what horse people know as a reality. I always have hope that the gap between “friend and companion” and “livestock” is not so great that, if truly given the opportunity, most people would make the leap and see what we see in our horses.

IMG_2924Tonight a yearling filly, the subject of our latest seizure, is flat out on her side in the hospital, starved almost to death after spending her short life in a weed filled pasture. She has IV fluids hanging above her and a vet watching her every breath. She has never felt the hands of a child around her neck or the soft words of a caring owner, yet inside her is the same spirit as the horse in this video. That spirit is the same as that within the wild horse grazing peacefully in some distant hillside in Nevada, in a fancy stall in New Jersey and the horse packed tight in a truck headed for the border.

As you watch this video, know that the spirit of the horse breathes through each one of us.

 

AUTHOR: Posted by Habitat for Horses Calaway
17 Comments
  • Jerry, I'm new to this blog but I aplaud you. THANK YOU, for all you are doing for the wild horse issue, and for your rescue w

    Jerry, I’m new to this blog but I applaud you for this amazing post. THANK YOU, for all you are doing for the wild horse issue, and for your rescue work. I am in awe of your tenacity. Please continue to be our voice!

    September 11, 2013
  • terri russell

    watching The Dressage Horse And Rider Is Like Watching A Great Ballet. It’s Poetry In Motion. Horses Are And Always Will Be A Huge Part Of My Life. They Are My Companions And My Reason For Living

    September 11, 2013
  • Arlene

    The Spirit of a horse can never be broken, just as the love we share with them !!! The horses always take me to a beautiful place , one that I never stray to far from, if only we could give to them what they have given to us………………….

    September 11, 2013
  • Amy Miller

    I understand about long hours with horses trying to teach them or even learn from them. I spend long hours with my on a daily basis to get my horses to do tricks and paint. It is time well spent and a friendship forms from it. I love dressage and I would love to do it someday.

    September 11, 2013
  • karen

    Dont be fooled by the pretty pictures and this “one with my horse” stuff. When you get into competition with an animal, especially horse racing, show competitions, and eventing the ones who suffer are the horses. This is compounded by the immense amounts of money it takes to do these “sports.” When money is involved ethics go out the window. Drugging horses becomes commonplace and injuries cause horses to stand in stalls for months at a time. The ones who don’t make A grade get sold, over and over and lead miserable lives standing in stalls while owners find time to visit them once a week. I can’t stand to be around stables anymore. Horses belong with each other, on pasture, not in a box. I know people will disagree with me and there are exceptions and wonderful, sensitive, caring owners. But the majority of horses in this world live miserable lives. This is why the wild mustangs are a symbol of freedom and survival. They can thrive as beings, not for some rich person’s ego, or because they are fast, can do tricks or raise their legs high because they were tortured.

    September 12, 2013
    • Robynne Catheron

      Karen, although your comments are mostly, and sadly, true, I want to think the majority of horses are outside, with herds, and are loved and respected as valuable, sentient beings. My horses have always lived as natural a life as possible. Even though I only showed in smaller local shows, what you described was commonplace. I never shaved my beautiful horse’s whiskers, never clipped his body, never cut his mane or tail, never put polish on his (bare) hooves. I find that whole process very disturbing, almost like playing dress-up with dolls. I cannot tolerate the deplorable tactics used by some western pleasure riders to ensure their horse’s nose is almost touching the ground (tie the horse’s head up to the rafters in their stall all night, and/or withhold water for 24 hours so they’re too exhausted to hold their head up in the arena). I also cannot tolerate those in the TWH (and Saddlebreds, etc) who not only cut nerves under their horse’s tail to make it stand up, or attach an electric shock device to their horse’s genitals to train them not to flinch in agony during soring inspections. I don’t understand why so many riders continue to inflict repetitive, intense concussion to their horses front legs when high jumping, over and over, year after year. I can’t stand jockeys and barrel racers whipping and/or spurring their horses for more speed when their horse is already giving them all they’ve got. I find it nauseating that world-class trainers are putting babies under saddle at a year and a half or two years old, forcing them into early, painful retirement at ten or twelve years old, and on joint supplements. Dr Bennett (The Ranger Piece) clearly, and indisputably states that no horse, of any breed or discipline is skeletally mature until at least five years of age, because the growth plates haven’t closed, especially in their spine. There’s too much money at stake, I guess, for them to wait. I abhor the futurities, I think it’s like a father riding his child’s back around the living room. I am honored that my beloved horses are willing to live behind fences, and allow me on their backs. My motto is similar to Joe Camp’s: no stalls, no shoes, no sugar. I go a little further with no bits, no blankets, and no cooked pellets. Horses need and deserve to live their lives as free and as naturally as possible. It’s the least we can do for them, after all they do for us.

      September 13, 2013
      • Robynne Catheron

        I forgot Rollkur, and mouths gaping from painful bit pressure.

        September 13, 2013
  • mustang man

    Ahh, the enlightenment of horses. Anyone who puts a leg over a horse is an equestrian. either one in training, one learning(this never stops no matter how long you are with horses) a good one or a bad one that refuses out of stupidity to know you are bad and need to respect and learn from the horse and a good trainer. If you feel your partnership should be 60/40, 51/49 then you are in the wrong, getting to be with a horse and riding one is a 50/50 partnership at all times. You want ownership, get a dog, horses have staff not owners. The masters of Europe have been pointing this out for millennia; it’s just that people are in too much of a damn hurry to understand they are stupid. Be smart. Back off. Read the masters works and start over. Dressage riders can be as brutal as so called western riders. Correct riding is riding, your costume or the style of saddle you sit maatter’s not. We all need to take a step back.

    Remember the great Alois Podhawsky:

    “The best guideline for the appropriate intensity of the work is provided by the old rule that the horse should return to his stall as fresh as he left it.”

    Remember this when somebody tells you or you tell yourself the horse just needs more sopping wet, sweaty blankets…

    Good Job Mr. Finch (as usual)

    September 12, 2013
  • Geri

    Some here do not own horses-but would not ever think of abusing any animal-some times in our fight for the horses we just need to see the beauty and love-it is what keeps us going.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTDv33Yjk4k&feature=related

    September 12, 2013
    • mustang man

      Amen !!!!! there is so much beauty with horses and the things they do with us. ASo many of us always seem to look past the good to only see the bad in most of these.

      September 18, 2013
  • Amy Miller

    Not all people who get involved in horse shows or dressage are mean to their horses. I love my horses and we have a mutual partnership that we share while doing tricks. I do not use whips or anything abusive. I use treats as payment for their service. My horses have pasture and love to come and play games of tricks or Pat Parelli’s natural horsemanship training method.

    I also know of someone who wanted to learn dressage and she learned it so well on her Arabian stallion. One day he had a stroke and could not be used anymore. She simply just took care of him and never rode him but let him graze and be in a stall for protection when it was colder. He is still alive after it being about ten years after his stroke. Not all horse people who love doing certain discipline abuse horses.

    I could share many stories but my horses are happy with me and I will not sell them. I work with them way too much for them to be happy anywhere else. There are great stories out there. We need to celebrate the good owners who care. There are lots of caring people.

    September 13, 2013
    • Arlene

      Dear Amy to love ones horses is to Love ones self !!!!! I know there are many of you !!! WHO TREAT THERE HORSES LIKE THEY ARE FAMILY , GOD Bless EACH AND EVERYONE OF YOU !!!!!All of the Horses are a wonderful Gift , given to us !!!! To enjoy , love and care for and learn from !!!!!

      September 14, 2013
    • Arlene

      One more thing Amy !!! Love and trust and Honor never need to be defended , just embraced !!!!!!

      September 14, 2013
      • Amy Miller

        Thank you!

        September 18, 2013
  • Amy Miller

    In fact, this just aired yesterday about my relationship with my horses. You might enjoy it. http://fox13now.com/2013/09/15/uniquely-utah-the-horses-who-paint/

    September 16, 2013
  • mustang man

    I’m sure this is going to get comments and hurt feelings but think about it wholly before you do…

    The worst enemy of equines is not the slaughter folks but we, the horse lovers that are so willing to turn a blind eye to arena abuse. Trail abuse. Or not calling lie and mis information when some dipshit says my horses breed matures faster then warm bloods etc. etc. etc. want to see species abuse. Look at 80 of the Americans that own and do things with horses. Its more the norm then the exception in my experience of over 50 years with horses, so called riding and horse trainers and the “that be the way my grand dad did it” folks that refuse to move from the stupid side or horse care to at the least the ignorant side and spend the needed time learning real information.

    What did you learn this last week about horses? How aobut your riding lesson or evaluation by a real trained professional? If you didn’t learn anything new then you are not enlightening yourself therefore there is something you are doing wrong with the horse in your care. Period…

    Enlightenment only ends when you stop doing so or you die.

    September 18, 2013
  • Lin

    Great video Jerry, thank you for sharing. Good and bad in all, when it comes to horse owners. Mustang Man your comments are the truth. Thank you

    September 22, 2013