I was in the tack shop over the weekend and found a handful of books that looked interesting.
I love books; I love the ability to reference things, the chance to gleam ideas and hints for lessons, different explanations which can fine tune your own knowledge and explanative skills.
One of the books which caught my eye is a behavioural book, but not in the usual way. It discusses problems owners and riders may encounter and lists potential reasons for it and how to overcome it. It is called “My Horse Rears”.
One of the chapters dealt with rearing; reasons, consequences, sitting a rear, and overcoming the behaviour. Another dealt with the ins and outs of catching horses.
We were talking at the yard about books and it`s quite interesting the difference of opinion. I like being able to get another view. If you`re having problems with your horse you can sometimes miss an explanation – you can`t see the wood for the trees. For example, you may struggle to catch him but when the book, or a knowledgeable bystander, tells you that it may be because you approach him in an aggressive manner – marching across the field, arms crossed – then the answer is obvious. Yes, you have been stressed at work recently, and have been briskly hurrying across the field, anxious that your horse may not let you catch him. You`re radiating angst, so it`s not surprising he runs away!
To those brought up around horses, and those knowledgeable in their field, often the reason for bad behaviour on the horse`s part is obvious. But to those newly entered in the equestrian world, they may not have the knowledge or experience to link actions and behaviours. It`s hard to remember this – I try to keep telling myself that – and take time to explain what may seem obvious to a horsey person.
Sometimes it is easier to accept the hard, cold, truth from the pages of a book rather than from a friend, instructor or stranger.
One chapter that I thought was very blunt and forthright was the chapter that dealt with aggression. It began by explaining that biting and kicking are warning signs that the horse doesn`t like his situation, and how this aggression is shown in wild herds, and how older horses will put youngsters in their place. Then the book illustrates behaviour that is liked by horses – calm demeanour, gentle but competent handling, slow, easy movements, a firmly confident touch, friendliness, safety – and how an incompetent or inexperienced person may put them on edge.
That would be a hard pill to swallow – you may think your horse loves being kissed and cuddles in a loud manner, but actually his nipping is telling you to stop treating him like a cuddly child, shut up and groom him quickly so you can get on and ride!
Anyway, although books should not always be read blindly and taken for gospel, they provide useful pointers and opinions, as well as new information, which can then be talked about and considered to see if they apply to us. Horses are a practical area of expertise, and hands on experience is invaluable, but it is not always possible to physically observe all areas of the horse world, which means we should utilise written records and share our knowledge.
Tomorrow I`m going to start reading the book on laminitis – very topical for the time of year!