This Is Why I Blog

For those of you who don’t read Horse Collaborative, you should start. It’s amazing and wonderful and educational and funny.

Today they posted a link to an article called 10 Things All Horse People Want to Say (But Usually Don’t) which is basically about how everyone in the horse industry has a different opinion on how things should be done when dealing with horses.

My #1 biggest omg-my-blood-is-boiling pet peeve with the equine industry is that EVERYONE HAS A DIFFERENT OPINION. How is it possible that man has been working with horse for hundreds of years, and there isn’t one obvious, solid answer to how should I put my horse on cross ties?!?!? (Yes, there is more than one way, and no, nobody has been able to explain to me why their way is better than X, Y, or Z way)

And this is why I blog. I’m hoping that someday I’ll be able to compile a list of “best practices for equestrians in the year 20-whatever” for how to work with horses on everything. I’m honestly surprised nobody has done it yet. Let me rephrase: I’m surprised nobody has compiled a list from multiple credible sources within our community and created a “horse bible,” if you will. I know I see books by all these famous riders and horsemen, that’s great! But that’s still only 1 opinion. And (no offense to George Morris) we can’t just rely on one king to rule them all. We need to push further, question everything, and really get to the bottom of why we do things. It reminds me of that time when I posted about why we figure 8 bridles, and I barely got any responses. I wonder how many people went home and actually wondered why they were doing this seemingly unimportant task all this time?

That aside, I’m hoping in the new year to post more questions in my “clueless” category, and I’m looking at you, equestrian world, to provide the answers with solid, logical reasoning (“because that’s how you do it” doesn’t fly with me).

Let’s go, 2016!!

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9 comments

  1. honestly, i think there are different opinions because there are legitimately multiple ways that are not *wrong.* yes, there exist honest-to-god wrong ways of doing things, and that’s when you’ll hear the rational, logical explanations why – but many things we do with horses don’t fall into the category of having just one correct way (ie, cross ties). frankly, more often i think there’s usually only 1 or 2 wrong ways and many right ways.

    for instance, figure-8ing bridles is useful if you’re packing and unpacking multiple bridles all at once (like throwing 8 of them in the backseat of a car for a show, a thing i have absolutely done before), it protects them from getting tangled. but if your bridle only ever goes from hook to horse then back to its hook? figure-8ing is probably unnecessary. doesn’t make it right or wrong tho.

    additionally, something that might be right for a sport horse might be wrong for a retired horse. same thing with one breed vs. another, or one discipline vs another. think: shoeing techniques; acceptable bits/equipment in various disciplines; feeding regimens. it’s really all relative and all about context. horse people with different backgrounds will have different sets of evidence for their own particular sets of opinions.

    none of this is to say that i think the premise of a ‘horse bible’ is wrong (i kinda love the post and it’s obvi gotten me thinking, thus this novel…) but so many of the decisions we make about horses are based on what’s worked before. and if something is working well for my horse, i’m not going to change practices bc the same method proved to be wrong for a different horse.

    anyway, great food for thought haha. and this post reminded me of a particularly funny webcomic, check it out: https://xkcd.com/927/

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    • Agreed, there can be more than 1 answer depending on the question, but let’s look at blanketing as a prime example. How many different barns have you been to where everyone has a different “opinion” on when to start blanketing, and which kind of blankets to use, and how to clip? Not saying there needs to be a standard, but when I hear the “natural” horsemen tell me that they don’t blanket their unclipped horses and it’s -20 degrees out with no shelter bc that’s how they would be in nature, I cringe. Every time. So I guess I should rephrase: we should be making some sort of guidelines for when and why we do XYZ with XYZ types of horses, at the very least. I still feel like there is so much more work to be done in that area!

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      • for the blanketing example, my horse’s blanketing rules: below 40+wet = sheet; below 30+dry = sheet; below 20 = heavyweight blanket; below 10 = bring indoors. those rules could change tomorrow if my horse starts overheating at 35+wet or shivering at 25.

        meanwhile there is another horse at our farm that is the same breed, only slightly larger, and 2 years different in age. he wears exactly zero blankets. unless it’s wet and very cold. but even then, not that often (esp since he’ll take the suckers off). and no need to cringe – i assure you he’s perfectly happy and healthy.

        there is no set standard that can accommodate both of those horses, living at the same farm in the same weather conditions.

        the reason the different opinions exist is because there are literally different answers for the different horses. the best we can do is try to make the best decisions we can for our horses, and trust that the others around us are doing the same (even when we think they’re crazy).

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  2. Interesting! I see your point, but I don’t necessarily agree. I think it just depends on the standards you’re evaluating. For example, let’s take the blanketing example and move it to children (totally hypothetically speaking). If it’s 30 degrees outside, and you are babysitting 2 kids, within 2 years of each other, and one kid is always cold so you bundle them up, but the other runs hot. Do you still let the other kid run outside without a jacket? Like do you use the standards of how hot your kid runs (and do you actually measure that regularly) to determine what outerwear is appropriate? Playing devil’s advocate here!

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    • oooh i love the devil’s advocate lol 🙂 i’m not totally sure i get the substitution for children bc i tend to think there are fewer physiological differences between two random humans from similar environments than there might be between two random horses… but i have zero evidence to back that up haha.

      but we have horses who sweat in a sheet (like the gelding in my example) at the same temperature that another horse shivers in a sheet. so if the standard is that all horses wear a sheet at this temperature, both of these horses are uncomfortable even if the average horse is fine. so the best practice at my barn is: is the horse sweaty under the blanket? then it’s over-blanketed. is it shivering? then it’s under-blanketed.

      all that said tho, it’s been proven on the internet (which would never ever lie to us) that to blanket or not to blanket remains a contentious issue between horse people far and wide, so it’s perhaps a ‘hot button’ example for your original premise of horse people having too many damn opinions lol.

      or maybe it’s the perfect example bc while you and i maybe have different views on blanketing, it’s highly likely that neither is *wrong* (or neither might be able to convince the other why her specific method is better) in the sense that our horses are not in danger or being done a disservice by our separate approaches. still tho. thought provoking. i like it!

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      • Right?? Like maybe the “best practice” is that it depends on location (40 degrees is Florida is not 40 degrees in New York) and breed, and that is what dictates best practices. But like they’re guidelines, not a “one size fits all,” just like in an ideal world, with this horse breed and this situation, this is what is recommended. Obviously good judgement trumps all, but it’s just a jumping board to start with

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    • Gahhh I think I miscommunicated the bible part!! I meant it as a guideline source, like here’s something you could give a beginner horseman as a baseline to go off of when determining what to do, when to do it, and why we do it like that in that case. Obviously good judgement trumps all, but it’s a starting point!

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  3. To blow your mind in Australia cross ties are unheard of, we tie to a rail or a post. Also, to tie solid versus to tie to a breakaway. My mare is tied to a break away except if I’m harnessing her and putting her to a carriage, then she ties solid. Reasoning being a horse pulling back may hurt itself if tied solid and a loose horse is no big deal. Loose horse with carriage attached is the equine version of the apocalypse. So she ties solid and I hope she never pulls back.

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