Blog .:. January 2009 10 Entries

Spooky

29 January 2009 Comments

It’s better than a meme… Nuzzling Muzzles has a post on spooking, specifically related to Arabians. I could put my answers in a comment there, but I like to hear myself talk, so I’m putting them here (where I can be verbose without guilt).

Have you ever experienced a non-Arabian horse spooking?
All the time. I’ve only ever ridden three Arabians or part Arabians; most of the other horses I’ve ridden have been TBs or warmbloods. If anything, I’ve experienced more spooking on the non-Arabian horses, but let’s be fair: I’ve spent far more time in the saddle on them than the Arabs, so statistically of course I’ve experienced more spooking with them.
What usually triggers spooking?
In most cases, I think something unexpected happens—a noise or sound or something appears where the horse wasn’t expecting it to be. I sympathize with that, because I’m reactive and jumpy too. Other times, I think the horse is just having fun, looking for a way to evade work, or testing their rider. These spooks disappear quickly once the rider gets the horse’s full attention and directs that energy somewhere else.
What are the ways in which you’ve experienced horse spooks? (i.e. jumping to the side, bolting, jumping straight up, puffing up, snorting, kicking out…)
Interesting list. I’ve always considered spooking to be very specific to jumping or bolting to the front or side (never see them go straight up or backwards, although I’m sure some do) or else halting in place. Puffing up and snorting I consider indicators that the horse’s attention is divided (there’s still time to avoid the spook) or else the horse has already spooked and is still reacting to whatever caused the spook in the first place.
Do you believe that spooking is really tied into breed?
I think that breeding for sensitive, reactive horses will, on the balance, produce horses more likely to spook. But I also think that, on the balance, the people breeding for especially sensitive and reactive horses have training plans to channel that sensitivity and reactive tendencies into something more productive than spooking.
Do you believe that spooking can be worked out of the genes through selective breeding?
I think sensitivity and reactive tendencies can be mitigated by breeding (thus the distinction between “amateur-minded horses” and “professional rides”), but spooking is a survival tendency and it’s always a possible reaction to a stressful situation.
Do you believe that spooking is connected to the handler’s reactions?
Yes, of course. Horses and riders feed off each other, so a tense, worried rider will make most horse worried and tense, which is an invitation to spook. It also makes for worse spooks, because the rider has to calm themselves down before they can calm down the horse. A relaxed and confident rider, on the other hand, can ride out the initial spook and get the horse right back into work like nothing happened, which will help reassure the horse that nothing needed to happen. This is why horses who can remain calm even when their rider is a trainwreck are worth their weight in gold to me.
Do you believe that spooking is tied in with fear associated with abuse from humans or other animals?
I’m sure it can be, but I’ve never worked with abused horses and, as a result of limited exposure, never seen this.
Do you believe that spooking is a survival instinct?
Yes.
Do you believe that horses learn to spook from their dam and other horses?
Yes; you survive in a herd by doing what the herd does. But I think they learn just as much from their handlers.
Percentage-wise, how much of spooking is nature and how much is nurture?
I’d put more weight on nurture/training. A horse may be born with so much tendency to spook, but I think how they are trained to handle new and scary situations—whether by their herd or their owners—makes the most difference in the end.
If you believe spooking is isolated to Arabians, what is your logic? (i.e. Generations of Arabian horses suffering through sand storms, miles of desert with no exposure to anything but sand somehow got into their bloodline so that they jump at every new object and sound…)
I have never, ever heard that spooking was isolated to Arabians.
Do you believe that a horse can be trained not to spook?
No. Notwithstanding that I think training has a huge impact on how much a horse spooks and how a horse handles itself in new/scary situations, I would never bet my life on a horse not spooking. No matter what you do, spooking is a survival instinct and if the situation is bad enough, the horse is going to do what it thinks it has to do to survive.
Do you believe that a horse can be taught to spook in place?
Yes, but I wouldn’t do it. I’d rather the horse keeps moving (forward or sideways - not backwards), because it’s easier to push them right back into work. When you have them stop, to me that reinforces the idea that something significant just happened. I’d rather keep moving and pretend it never happened, wasn’t important, was not worth noticing at all. Then, once the horse is focused and working again, go back to the scary spot and let them check it out.

Tagged: Horses, Horses - Breeds - Arabians, Horses - Breeds - Thoroughbreds, Horses - Breeds - Warmbloods

Stupid things to do around horses, #167

28 January 2009 Comments

Tack up your horse. Remember you need to put some conditioner/show sheen/what have you in his mane and tail.

Slather in said conditioner/show sheen/what have you.

Go ride.

Without gloves.

Tagged: Bad Decisions, Horses, Riding

Cats—they may be good for something after all

26 January 2009 Comments

I have decided Pookie exists to put me in my place. If my ‘whatever else is happening, I’m going to indulge myself’ fund starts to look substantial, she ends up at the vet’s. As she did this weekend. Bye-bye, Kindle fund! (She’s probably fine, just old and creaky)

Onyx exists to remind me that whatever else is going on, my life can’t be that bad.

Sure, I had to give notice on my half lease because I can’t budget the lease and the legal issues I am dealing with. Sure, my immune system is shot due to stress and all it’s going to take is the rumor of the flu to put me in bed for a week.

I, however, don’t randomly fall of the couch and land on my head. And if I did do such a stupid thing, I wouldn’t try to jump back on the couch, overjump, and smack my head against the window.

Onyx is sitting in the corner of the room with her back to me, thumping her tail as angrily as she possibly can. This is all my fault, somehow.

I cannot stop laughing at her. I may fall off the couch yet.

Tagged: Cats, Cats - Onyx, Cats - Pookie

Cats—they may be good for something after all

26 January 2009 Comments

I have decided Pookie exists to put me in my place. If my ‘whatever else is happening, I’m going to indulge myself’ fund starts to look substantial, she ends up at the vet’s. As she did this weekend. Bye-bye, Kindle fund! (She’s probably fine, just old and creaky)

Onyx exists to remind me that whatever else is going on, my life can’t be that bad.

Sure, I had to give notice on my half lease because I can’t budget the lease and the legal issues I am dealing with. Sure, my immune system is shot due to stress and all it’s going to take is the rumor of the flu to put me in bed for a week.

I, however, don’t randomly fall of the couch and land on my head. And if I did do such a stupid thing, I wouldn’t try to jump back on the couch, overjump, and smack my head against the window.

Onyx is sitting in the corner of the room with her back to me, thumping her tail as angrily as she possibly can. This is all my fault, somehow.

I cannot stop laughing at her. I may fall off the couch yet.

Tagged:

Who needs therapy?

16 January 2009 Comments

I am reading voraciously. It’s an escape. I know myself well enough to recognize my mood by the books I read through like candy and the ones I pick up, read listlessly for a page or two, and put down again. Dream interpretation is for sissies; literary association is far more effective.

At times like these, I am sure book store owners across the nation feel a sudden lifting of anxiety, a sense of relief, a moment in which it seems that business will surely stabilize. A hint, in the air, of profit.

You do not want to know what I spend on books at times like these.

I have heard of those things called libraries, of course. Good ideas, in concept, but apparently they expect you to give the books back. I don’t give books back. I don’t believe in giving books back. If it’s a good book, it stays on the shelves, for later. Otherwise, it gets traded in. Trading in is acceptable, because there’s a chance I’ll get something better, something worth keeping. But having to give a book that was worth keeping back to the library? That’s heresy. (Of course, giving away books to other people is ok. In fact, giving away good books to other people so they also realize how great they are is practically my mission in life, if we want to drag out this church metaphor and beat it to a pulp..it. Har har!)

Nothing I am reading at the moment is horse related, I’m afraid, but it was this or a cat post. Consider yourself lucky, and go read some Neil Gaimon. Good stuff.

Tagged: Books & Reading

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