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Benefits of Horses (Part #2): The Lit Forge by John Royce

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   November 20, 2013 10:07

 

Mankind developed slowly, and then all at once. Anatomically modern humans first appeared some 200,000 years ago [1] ... yet the world’s first known civilization of Sumer didn’t begin until 5000 to 6000 years ago. [2]

Those experienced in humans may not be shocked the brutes didn’t play to potential way back when. It’s possible to see lessened glory in a species prone to such epic stagnation, but division-of-labor and retention of knowledge are surely advanced concepts that took eons to learn. (They are not so perfectly practiced even today!)

Horsemanship began with Civilization ... or vice versa

Whatever the reason for the delay of civilization, a great change took place at the time of its birth: the advent of horsemanship. The quirky, panicky and potentially dangerous animal somehow became more than prey in the eyes of early civilized man. Much empathy is exercised in handling horses—since the skill is also required to sustain civilization, perhaps this is why they began together. Empathy is a civilized art.

Horsemanship is more than a foundational skill: in all times it has flourished or decayed according to the state of society. In all times, also, horses have returned investment in their care and potential. People and horses are partners in the joint venture project of civilization and we rise and fall together.

Still Alive and Growing

The value of horses in our motorized society is often underestimated, but the horse has always been more than horsepower. Since first painted on prehistoric cave walls the animal has inspired our better journeys, a gift that can never become obsolete.

Today horsemanship is alive and expanding, and continues to advance. An important NEW value of horses is to keep alive a founding force in civilization. As a seminal art that continues to mirror society, horsemanship is a valuable legacy to preserve for future generations. This can be done! Horses are not necessities in daily life today—but horsemanship has taken many engaging new forms in recreation, sport and therapy.

Amazingly, horsemanship thrives even in our modern technological age. As long as we have horses, we are keeping one of the founding fires of civilization lit.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatomically_modern_humans

[2] http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/encyclopedia/civilization/?ar_a=1


(c) John Royce

http://thegreathorse.com/

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Benefits of Horses

HorseOwnerToday and Elaine Ward of Western Dressage in Canada

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   February 11, 2012 16:05

 

 

1.  Tell HorseOwnerToday about your journey to developing Western Dressage in Canada to where it is today.
I've been involved with Western Style dressage for the past 30 years. I was a successful youth rider, and did the 4H, Paint and Quarter Horse Shows. I was learning dressage at the time also. My first dressage lesson was back in 1973! When I started teaching professionally, I would have students that would come to me with their Western horses.  I would work on really basic dressage exercises to improve the gaits and suppleness of their horses, and work on the rider's  position. It's really no different for me. Good training is good training. I teach the horse to use his hind end, and teach the rider how to achieve it.  Ideally we want the horse to carry it's self. My best analogy to riders is to imagine the horse is like a motor boat. Without the power of the engine (the horses' hind end) to lift the bow (the horses' front end), you will never have a horse that is light and can carry it's self.
Western Style dressage as a discipline is so new, that our job right now is to educate riders to the benefits of it. To develop a better level of communication, and a higher level of learning. What's really cool about Western Style dressage is that it is a progressive training, and the levels of tests increase in difficulty to reflect that. Even if someone has no interest in showing, the tests are just that, the ability to ride patterns of increased difficulty and to ride to a standard.


2.  What changes have you seen in the the Dressage in Canada market in the past 5 years?

I think the market has really not changed. You have two types of riders out there. The competitive and the recreational rider. It has always stayed that way. But on the other hand, the generations are getting older. What I have discovered from talking to people is that the older riders no longer wish to sit in a dressage saddle. They find the Western Style of riding much more relaxed and less restrictive. Those riders have also gone out and purchased a more average moving horse with a good mind. They still want to learn dressage, but not on a big moving, active minded horse. They love the camaraderie of riding with friends, and still want to go out there and learn, but not with the big warmblood or hot Thoroughbred types anymore. I'm not saying that Western Style Dressage is for the older riders, but from looking at several studies, the demographics point to the over 45 rider. I have discovered the same thing from talking to people interested in Western Style Dressage.  WSD also is important to the youth out there too. We would like those riders to develop a good foundation for training, no matter which discipline they choose to ride. Dressage is the French word for Training. Training done correctly.

3.   What changes do you predict for the future of Western Dressage in Canada in the next 5 years? 


The goal of the Western Style Dressage Association is to get WSD out there to every corner of Canada, through demos, displays, clinics, etc. Our long term vision is to have Equine Canada except WSD as an actual discipline with a section in the rule book. In the mean time, it's all about education!  We would like to see WSD included in regular dressage competitions. We would like to have an affiliate in every Province!  http://westernstyledressage.ca/


Memoirs of a Horse Owner by Sam

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   November 18, 2011 09:36

Memoirs of a Horse Owner    

 

                    Horsemanship ....... it is an art, a science, a tradition and a lifelong journey!

 

The articles written for www.Horseownertoday.com  are a collection of my personal memoirs as a horse owner.  They are about my experiences and about my understanding of horsemanship.  They do not necessarily reflect the opinion of www.Horseownertodaycom.com  and in some cases, they do not reflect the opinion of the majority of horse owners today.  They are about my journey toward understanding a horse.                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

I enjoy watching the horses interact with one another in the pasture.  An interesting thing occurred the other day and it got me thinking about how leadership works in an established herd. 

It was a beautiful spring day.  Most of the horses were standing along the fence line, lazing in the warm sun.  The rest of the horses, including the yearlings, were nibbling on the newly sprouted grass near the pond. 

As I stood watching, my thoughts were interrupted by a ruckus near the pond.  One of the geldings had started chasing the yearlings around.  He was relentless and it caused me to wonder about the safety of the yearlings.  It was about then that the big bay took notice.  She motioned with her head toward the dun that was resting beside her. 

The dun left his resting spot along the fence line and slowly trotted toward the troublemaker.  With a rather matter-of-fact attitude, he separated the troublemaker from the yearlings and herded him around the pond.  After one circle around the pond, the dun returned to his resting spot beside the bay. 

Within minutes the troublemaker was back at it.  And again the dun slowly trotted out.  He separated him from the yearlings and once again he sent him off around the pond. 

On the troublemaker's third offense, the dun trotted out with a bit more determination.  He separated him from the yearlings and herded him toward the group of horses that were resting along the fence line.  As the troublemaker trotted by, the bay bit him on the backside.  That ended the ruckus in the pasture.

I couldn't help wondering about what I had seen.  As horse owners, we tend to read things into situations and come up with entirely wrong conclusions, sort of like when we believed our teddy bear could talk.  "Personification" is the proper term for it.  Yet it seemed to me that I had not read anything into this situation.  

As it turns out, a herd of horses has a set of values and laws that benefit the entire herd.   It is the responsibility of the lead horse to maintain the herd's values and laws.  This is done for the wellbeing of the entire herd.  The herd looks to the leader for support and direction.   The herd relies on her wisdom.

Conflict is usually between consenting scrappers who are attempting to increase their position within the herd hierarchy.  Often the lead horse will let them figure it out on their own.  Occasionally the lead horse will delegate leadership to another horse.  The lead horse steps in if the horse that is lower in the hierarchy is not able to resolve the issue.   And within the herd, strong friendships are formed and submissive horses are protected. 

It seems that people often mistakenly assume that leadership is based on dominance.  Rarely is that the case.  Dominant horses tend to be too reactive to be good leaders.  They are too emotional, too exuberant, too flighty and too extreme in their behavior. 

The herd leader is the horse that is best able to protect the herd.  The herd leader is often the most intelligent horse and the one who has the most experience and wisdom.  The leader is trusted and respected for her wisdom and her ability to keep the herd safe and secure. 

Horses communicate with one another in a meaningful way.  Leadership is maintained in a logical and honest manner.  It is consistent and "in the moment".   At times it is very subtle.  It is not based on dominance or emotion.  I suppose it could be said that the lead horse is the horse with the most "savvy".

Sam                                                                                                                                                                                                             

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