Riding On A Horse Named Ego: A story about how people fail horses because of pride
October 5, 2018
Yes. Yes yes yes.
Submission of ego is the key. Please see other East West blog posts about the lessons our horses have taught.
Note: Heart of Phoenix is one of my favorite rescues. Experts in working with starvation cases, knowledgeable about solid adoption contracts, the benefits of branding, and so much more, I highly recommend checking out their resources and supporting their work.
A story about how people fail horses because of pride
In 2014, HOP received a message from a follower in Ohio who knew of a Quarab that was getting ready to be put to sleep for behavioral issues. This mare started her life as a rodeo bronc horse, but she was sold at auction because she didn’t buck long enough.
A man who had never, ever owned a horse before bought her because she was pretty. He decided to send her to an old school, “horse breaker” guy who got the bright idea to tie up one of Skye’s legs and chase her around until she became submissive.
After she severely injured this “trainer,” she was sent back to the buyer and became a more and more unmanageable horse until she was left locked in a filthy, manure filled stall in the semi darkness with hay tossed over the wall. She busted out of there several times, and so the locks got stronger and stronger.
While we didn’t officially take her into HOP at that time, our KY volunteers went up to see her when HOP posted about a grey mare in need. They found a very miniscule, very tiny, smallest particle of willingness in Skye to give people one more chance.
They gingerly loaded her into the trailer and set off for home. After months and months of work, Raven was able to ride her, and she became a quite reasonable horse, though she was canny and would never be for the timid or unskilled horseman.
She officially entered HOP. At our first fun show, she was a rock star! She did the Baby Bottle race with 2 riders. She jousted. She did a competitive trail class and a western class. She was a pleasant girl and really shined there.
An adopter came forward who thought she was her person and looked, on paper, and through her references, seems to be a solid horse-person with enough skill for this mare. (We are sharing this story with the adopter’s permission after receiving an email from her which totally tied into this title we had already been mulling over).
Skye was sent to live with her, and it wasn’t long until the troubles began. We are going to directly share what the adopter sent to us about a week ago.
“Around 2014, I adopted a horse named Skye from Heart of Phoenix. I was ready for another addition to my farm. I currently had a well trained (prior to owning) , quarter horse mare. When I adopted Skye I thought I knew everything I needed to know about horses, including training them. I have never been so wrong!
When she arrived on my farm, I began the only training method I knew. She was extremely resistant, rearing and bucking. I had more problems than I could say grace to. I reached out to the rescue who put me in touch with her previous foster home. That gracious volunteer helped me all along the way, but it didn’t seem like anything I did was working (hindsight this was through no fault of Skye’s own).
She became very barn sour , disrespectful and downright difficult to handle. I had a terrible accident with her that led to the return of this beautiful girl to the rescue. About a year later I got another horse… a very untrained, thoroughbred quarter horse cross. As I began his training, he began to exhibit the same behavior issues as the rescue horse. It was then that I began to realize that it wasn’t the horse, it was me…
So, I went to the Internet, and started watching videos; a lot of videos! I started discovering something called natural horsemanship, the results were unreal! I started to realize that the horses were actually trying, I was just missing all the signs of cooperation. This in turn caused the horses to get frustrated because they became unsure and I in return, frustrated. I have since trained Charlie from the ground up and he’s absolutely amazing! I have also just rescued a four-year-old, untouched Appaloosa and am using the same method and she’s well on her way to being amazing as well!
I believe that I missed out on the ownership of a truly phenomenal horse. But I also believe that we crossed paths for a reason. And for that I am forever grateful!”
She missed the signs, folks, that the horse was trying to do what the adopter wanted her to do.
She was likely giving mixed signals to both of those horses and each got so frustrated that they eventually became dangerous, and in Skye’s case, she got returned and had to go to a trainer to screw her head back in again, and the trainer loved her and said she was heck of a good trail horse.
THIS, followers, is The take home message of this whole tale:
1. The majority of the horses we rescue end up needing rescue because somebody couldn’t admit that they don’t know enough about what they are doing.
2. That they are not yet ready to take on a particular horse.
3. That they are damaging what was, for somebody else, a well behaved horse. Every single day, a horse flips over on a rider because the rider doesn’t know what they are doing and they put so much backwards pressure on a horse’s mouth, they pull them into a rear and over backwards.
4. Every single day, a nice mouthed horse becomes a head tossing wreck, because someone is trying to learn to post and is pulling their own behind off the saddle with the hands on the reins instead of being on a line with no reins, going in a million circles until their leg muscles learn how to catch the rhythm.
5. Every single day a horse develops a running off problem or a bucking problem because their teeth need floated or their saddle pinches their withers or the bit has worn out at the cheek connections and pinches the horse’s lips.
6. Every single day, a human turns what was a pretty nice beginner horse into a rude, pushy, brat who runs out the gate because they won’t ask someone who rides well to tune it up sometimes or to give them pointers to improve their skills.
7. Anyone can be a rider on a horse and flop around and enjoy themselves. But the horse sure won’t find much pleasure in it. Think about it. We march into their bedrooms in the morning and we say “Hey, you are going to work today, right now.” They don’t get a choice of their jobs, or what time their day starts or what they want to wear that day. We just make them do whatever.
8. We owe it to them to put our dang egos aside and say we don’t know it all, or we don’t know enough or there is always more to learn, and to become horsemen. Or horsewomen. Or horse-people.
We should NOT merely be passengers but participants.
Thank you to this one adopter, for being a big enough person to come back, almost 4 years later, with the honesty to tell us that it wasn’t the rescue horse’s fault that things went south. Now that right there, takes a very big person and we are proud of her!