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Red Letter Day

Posted by Mummy Dearest on Jan-4-2005

The Girl is thrown from a horse for the.first.time.ever. Uh- oh, Bennie…

Bennie was startled during The Girl’s lesson this evening by the loud slam of a door and bolted, full speed ahead, dumping The Girl somewhere in the middle of his dash to safety.

The Girl is very shaken but seems ok- she might find herself with one or two shiners in the morning, though. It has been arranged that someone else ( I do believe that a lottery was held…) will care for Bennie tomorrow, and on Thursday and Friday, The Girl will have special lessons with him.

In fact, for the moment, she has been told only to ride him during lessons ( they are basically free when you board your horse at the manege).

I don’t think that she will have any objections to that, for the moment.

  1. jo Said,

    ouch! But it had to happen sometime didn’t it? She’s a tough one your Sally. I’m betting she’ll be right back up.

  2. sue Said,

    Jo, she has been riding since she was six, but actually took an almost 6 month long hiatus when two girls in her leson were thrown one hour- she has had such a terror about it.

    And yet, I’ve seen her come home after falling off of her bike, tattered and bloodied and calm.

    However, her teacher at the manege ( who taught her how to ride when she was six) has now set strict rules for Sally : she can only ride Bento during a lesson and said teacher will give her all of the one- on- one ( as well as being free)lessons that she needs to get her back in the right frame of mind.

    I myself have promised to coddle her tomorrow ( read : Kunte Kane) and she is already ordering me about like that Egyptian chick in The Ten Commandments, you know, of Moses, Moses, Moses fame.

    Buh, buh, buh, said Mommy Dearest.

    As well as wondering what exactly a cover is…

  3. Nean Said,

    Truly, being afraid of being thrown is better than the alternative, which is being proud of it. I knew a girl once….oh, never mind. She came to a bad end anyway.

    Oddly, I was thinking of Sally and Bento today when the wind was blowing through my coat. It makes young horses and children skittish and jumpy, this weather.

  4. blackbird Said,

    OOOhhh. some arnica could help the shiners. not that I like giving unsolicited advice on the internet.

  5. Chrysalis Said,

    Oh, my, sorry to hear that. She’s doing the right thing, getting back on. When I was 10 I didn’t, and haven’t ridden since. Now it’s too late.

  6. Denise Said,

    I have been thrown off of 60% of the horses I have ridden in my life. One of them just last year. You think I would learn that I’m just not a very good rider.

    Glad to hear she is ok and still wants to ride.

  7. sue Said,

    Ergh, Nean- you should have told me that ! You know how stupid I am about horses.

  8. Nean Said,

    Sugar, I’ll tell you whatever you want to hear about re: horses, or Sally’s horse, or Life the Universe and Everything as it relates to things equestrian, but people mostly find it boring so I generally keep it to myself.

    I don’t really even remember how old the horse is; I only have a rough impression from the photos that Bento is a late adolescent, early twenties kind of horse. Unloading looked like it was okay, so I concluded that he isn’t really spooky or anything. But you have to understand my frame of reference — I didn’t really ride, I trained, which is similar to the difference between a dancer and a choreographer. I am not that talented a rider, I hate tack and tacking up.

    But the easy comparison is this: anything that makes little bitty kid critters jumpy — gusty weather, lightning, that kind of thing — makes many horse critters jumpy too. And Bento is a new horse in a new place with a new person, so he has no real safety to run to (in his mind). Which was what really occasioned my stray thought on the matter.

    But hey, just tell me any time, anything you want to know, and then recall that you asked for it when I get boring. I promise to keep tales involving peril to life and limb to a minimum.

  9. sue Said,

    Nean- I don’t know if I feel better or a bit for the worse hearing your words. I keep imagining Douwe and Meg ripped from the bosom of the familiar and placed in a strange new environment.

    Eck- I understand how the mind of a dog works, how the mind of a cat works, but horses are beyond me and I find myself drenched in pity for poor Bento.

    Buh. Han says to me : shouldn’t we set up something soon ?

    How dutch.

  10. Nean Said,

    Oh, is that all? The problem you are having is this: horses are 1) herd, 2) herbivores. Dogs are pack scavengers mostly but go off alone to whelp and raise their young. Cats are as close to pure predator as it gets, but often pack up to raise kittens. I personally think people are scavengers, too, though an argument can be made for predation.

    Horses learn and experience and communicate almost exclusively through movement. Horse dominance is displayed this way: the lead horse is the one who can make the other horse move its feet. Horses do not have terrific vision and so are not especially sensitive to the visual cues to which humans are most sensitive. But they are terrifically sensitive to moving objects and to the the motion of the body, and can read all kinds of things from nonverbal communication in this way.

    People mostly do not bother to hide their emotions in this arena (as they do with facial expressions for instance) and are thus astounded when the horse knows exactly how they are feeling. From the horse’s perspective, they never bothered to hide it.

    A horse in many ways does not exist by itself and does not understand the idea of individual-ness. (Individuality they do understand, which is why I said that). They are mostly (barring a stud or a lead mare with serious testosterone issues) not territorial and don’t even understand the idea.

    Horses want leaders (not a leader, no matter what you read; herds have multiple leaders of both genders)at whose request they will literally do almost anything up to and including self sacrifice. It isn’t sacrifice of self for the herd from a horse’s point of view, it is simply sacrifice of self for self (see above, horses are not really individuals in the way we experience it. Herd=self in many imprtant ways). They also almost constantly test their leaders, both for their ability to care for/protect and also for their ability to be part of the herd. If at any time any leader fails the test, the testing horse will take over. But it isn’t challenge from the drive to be alpha, as it is for us meat eaters, it’s more like those fish who change genders when the school’s gender balance is wrong.

    The reason Sally has to be on her horse at lessons only (assuming the trainer is a good one, and I expect so, I would have said the same thing) is that she regains her status as leader by making Bento move his feet in particular ways, the way she wants him to — various turns and gaits and so on. I would personally add that at all cost each lesson must end with a positive — from the horse’s perspective — because a horse learns the last event in a sequence. So the last thing I would personally have Sally do in a lesson with Bento would be something easy and nonobjectionable for him to do, but which he had perhaps not done in that way before.

    Also, if Sally is worried about the bolting thing, a suede pad on the saddle or suede chaps or lined jodhpurs will help — she needs to not be afraid of not sticking the horse, not because I think she won’t but because the horse needs not to know that she is worried. He’s worried enough, if she’s worried too, he will conclude that somebody else needs to lead now (like him, for instance) and won’t understand why she does not agree.

    A horse in many ways has less personality when it has no herd, so it isn’t like a toddler being moved. It’s both more and less upsetting. But it’s why toddler behavior comes to the fore when a horse is moved — Bento is literally acquiring a new “personality” His temperament will remain constant, also as with a toddler, that’s fundamental. But the part we call a personality — the part that with humans is informed by our experiences and so on, what makes Bento Bento and not some other brown pony — will change drastically depending on Bento’s stablemates, the people who care for him, and of course Sally herself.

    Does that help at all?

  11. Nean Said,

    Oh, and yes of course we should. I was going to call tonight but The Spouse said it was too late already and wait till tomorrow. We are going ice skating tomorrow in Breda for Daan’s birthday, so it will be eveningish.

    The birthday is Saturday, but see, Nel’s birthday is the same day and so we have to be home for the hordes and throngs of Nel well wishers (there really are hordes and throngs, you can’t walk across the street with Nel without running into somebody with whom she must chat or — more likely — who must chat with her).

    If you want to try either my congnac or my speculaas birthday cakes (okay, they are those sloppy filled things the Dutch call a birthday cake) you can come by Saturday as we must be home the whole day for the aforementioned h & t’s; otherwise, any other day is pretty much fine.

  12. sue Said,

    Morning Nean ( uh, it is vacation ?)

    I’ve just printed out your horse comment and am going to read it to the girl.


  13. Nean Said,

    Why yes, it is vacation, and why yes, we are racking our brains to come up with something very very strenuous for the boys (all three of them) to do every day. How’d you know? lol.

    Sally is going to *kill* me for the suede saddle idea, I just know it. If I’d known you were going to read it to her for gossake I’d have left it out. Please tell her I also think she is probably the finest rider ever born, ranking right up there with Rangy Lil, and it was just a stray thought.

    Warn her that my own cobbled together philosophy is sort of the horsey equivalent of attachment parenting, and is frequently considered to be *way out there* by traditional trainers.

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