I'm nursing a very sore neck, so I'll try to keep this short.
I started a new job on Friday, working at a Quarantine facility that imports / exports horses. Basically I am employed as a groom, who looks after a set number of horses for the quarantine period (normally three weeks)
I was so excited about getting this job, It was such a great opportunity for me to work with different horsenalities, and to sharpen my horse handling skills, I was sooooo looking forward to it!
So I arrived on Friday, well aware that I lacked hands on experience as a groom, but able to make up for it with my horse handling skills and my willign to learn.
What a shock I got!!!!!! - I learnt that apparently I don't know a THING about horsemanship.
I saw Pat Parelli every day at Equitana Australia last month, and it really started to hit home, when he spoke about traditional horsemanship being a mixture of miliary tradition, ego and bullshit, in equal doses!
My first day on the job, I am assigned 10 horses including 5 warmbloods, a thoroughbred colt, a peruvian colt, a filly weanling, and a mare and foal (which should have been weaned already).
I discovered that I was expected to lead around these monstrous warmbloods using a 4ft leadrope. A FOUR FOOT LEADROPE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You know the ones, the shitty plaitted ones that you get from Horselands for 5 dollars! The ones that are so light weight there is no feel in them, the ones that stretch! In this day and age, where "Occupational Health & Safety" is the catch cry of most companies, I cannot fathom why you would consider it safe to lead a 1 tonne creature around on a 4ft lead rope!
God forbid they horses actually throw their heads in the air, because I am 162cm tall (thats just over 5ft for the Americans), and would have found myself launched off the ground.
I tried as best I could, to be as natural as possible, however was criticized for the following: (reasons in brackets)
Using rhythmic pressure to keep a horse out of my space (That will make the horse headshy! and also cause him to rear)
Clapping to interrupt the RB behaviour of the filly that was about to run me down (Don't make loud noises around young horses!!!!)
Talking to the horses (Its unprofessional)
Leading on the RHS (You'll get killed!)
Rubbing a colt on the face (He'll bite your face off)
Waving my rope to drive the horses front end as leading by the snap left me no options to direct the horse (Waste of time)
I had to use what is called a shiftney to bring in the warmbloods, the ridiculous amounts of grain and corn that they were on (being confined in a stable at night and a dirt yard by day) cause them to be jumpy, therefore a shiftney was prescribed to stop them jumping or rearing.
I was leading one of the warmbloods on the LHS, when he started shying at something out of his right eye, picture me, standing under this warmblood, holding him by the snap, elbow in his neck (which is doing nothing because he is MONSTROUS!) , so I decided to do the savvy thing and stand on his RHS, so if he decided to jump to the left (away from the fright) I wouldn't get trampled. I got yelled at by the head groom saying "Don't stand on the right! You'll get jumped on"
Jumped on????????? Um, Standing under a warmblood on the end of a 4ft leadrope, while hes going spastic is gonna get me jumped on!
The colt that was going to "bite my face off"? I went into his stall to take his temperature and pick his feet out, didn't put the leadrop on him, I draped it over his back, and let him chew on the end of it. When i turned my back to pick his feet up, he spun around to give me a nip, I "accidently" waved my elbow whilst asking him to pick his foot up, he straightened up and had a bit of a lick and chew. As I picked his foot up, he tried again, so i waved my elbow, again, he straightened up. I was in the process of picking his foot out, and he tried again, I saw it coming and decided to pick my foot up randomly, impacting with his incoming nose - The cold swung around, picked up the lead rope and continued to chew it for the duration, allowing me to pick up all four feet without argument or any more "grooming sessions". I was passively persistant - he got the message.
I tell you what, I was CONCERNED for my safety every time i led a horse from their stable to their yard and vica versa.
I would have preferred a 12ft line, a rope halter and a carrot stick, but the chances of that happening were buckleys and none! They use standard PVC halters, and combined with the fact that we basically had to wrestle the horse from point A to B, we were teachign them to push against us!
What I don't understand is how can people still be living in the dark ages? How can you call this common sense? Honestly? I don't get it! Get a longer line, get the horse out of your space, its not difficult! I was having a massive rant to my mother about all this, and she said to me "You just have to realize that not everyone has the TIME to do it your way, professional horse people have a job to do, they don't have TIME to do Parelli"
I replied that that statement was so untrue, all it was was a change in tools, a change in mentality, a change in thinking, there was no extra TIME involved in leading a horse at a safe distance, all you required were the correct tools, the leadrope, the halter and the carrot stick. These people treated horses the way they did because its how THEY were taught, they never actually thought about WHY they were doing it that way, its just the way its always been done! God forbid you ask them why they do it that way, because I don't think they could tell you.. their answer would be "Because!"
Its all bovine Faecal matter as Pat likes to say.
Military Tradition, Ego and Bovine Faecal Matter.
And I hate it.
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