List: what do we argue about when it comes to horses?

I have just written a short essay on how we can overlook the needs of our horse when it comes to our own ambitions. Those may be a Grand Prix show jumping round, how you plait your mare’s mane for the next adult riding competition to getting your horse to walk through a puddle. It doesn’t matter. In so many cases, people can become defensive to various degrees if you question, seem critical or show doubt about their method or choices when it comes to horsemanship.

I would add that some of these rules are self-defined by owners who are working in a particular way out of self-preservation stemming from fear.

So I thought it might be fun to compile a list, just now, sitting in my chair on a hot Sunday afternoon before I go out to trim my four horses, of all the things that come to mind that get horse owners’/riders’/handlers’/trainers’ backs up.

These are things that I experienced over many years from owners, from students of various instructors and programs.

Maybe if we sent our list of expectations to the horses before we got started or read them aloud, like the fellow above, it might make everybody’s lives a little easier. But horses can;t read and don;t speak or need to feel human.

So, here goes. Warning: it’s long. Feel free to reply with your own ideas.

Read: horse is/horse’s/horse:

  • clipped
  • not clipped
  • clipped incorrectly for the sport/weather in question
  • barefoot
  • shod
  • not shod naturally
  • barefoot trimmed
  • barefoot trimmed by somebody who does not follow a trimming program
  • has shoes with side clips
  • has shoes with toe clips
  • has bar shoes on
  • has Natural Balance shoes on
  • has Cytek shoes on
  • is shod with the wrong trim to match the shoe
  • has rubber shoes on
  • has any other kind of non-metal shoe on
  • has had corrective treatment on their legs as foals
  • horse wears boots
  • horse wears the wrong kind of boots
  • horse wears boots without gaiters
  • tail is too long
  • tail is too short
  • mane is hogged
  • mane is too long
  • mane is tangled
  • mane is not pulled
  • mane is pulled
  • rugged
  • unrugged
  • rugged without a bib
  • rugged without a sheet
  • rugged without being brushed first
  • is wearing a hodd
  • is not wearing a hood
  • is not wearing a slinky before a show
  • is wearing a slinky
  • rug left on the gate
  • rug straps done up incorrectly
  • rug buckled incorrectly
  • not brushed before riding
  • too brushed before riding
  • legs brushed with metal curry combs
  • many brushed with metal curry combs
  • whiskers are clipped
  • whiskers are not clipped
  • feet not picked out before riding
  • feet picked out at all
  • feet not picked out after riding
  • fly veil not put on
  • fly veil left on overnight
  • fly veil left on the gate
  • lead rope not tied with baling twine/hay band
  • lead rope tied with baling twine/hay band
  • trailered/floated on an angle
  • trailered/floated straight
  • trailered/floated with shipping boots
  • trailered/floated without shipping boots
  • led on the clip
  • led with slack in the lead rope
  • fed in the morning
  • fed in the evening
  • must not be hand fed
  • may be hand fed
  • must not receive food treats
  • can receive food treats
  • may receive a food treat for a trick
  • may not receive a food teat for a trick
  • must be fed on the ground
  • must be fed in a wall/gate feeder
  • fed natural supplements
  • fed any particular brand of feed
  • fed Lucerne/alfalfa hay
  • not fed Lucerne/alfalfa hay
  • fed oats
  • not fed oats
  • fed any other kind of hay that might be contentious
  • left with a halter on in a paddock
  • not left with the halter on in the paddock
  • stabled to foal down
  • not stabled to foal down
  • not at the vet’s to foal down
  • handled from birth
  • not handled from birth
  • use any method that includes early handling
  • owner does not use any method that includes early handling
  • feet trimmed as foals
  • feet untrimmed as foals
  • kept in a stall
  • kept in stall for too long
  • kept in a stall for too short
  • the wrong size stall
  • kept on sawdust in the stall
  • kept on straw in a stall
  • kept on rubber mats in a stall
  • unrugged in a stall
  • rugged in a stall
  • tied in cross ties
  • not tied in cross ties
  • mane is plaited/braided incorrectly
  • tail is plaited/braided incorrectly
  • feet are dressed with the wrong kind of hoof oil
  • feet are not treated with hoof oil
  • saddled in a western saddle
  • saddled in an English saddle
  • saddled in a barefoot saddle
  • saddled in a treeless saddle
  • saddled in any treed saddle
  • saddled for western in a English setting
  • saddled for English in a western setting
  • saddled in an Aussie saddle
  • rider’s cinch too tight
  • rider uses a mohair cinch
  • rider uses a neoprene cinch
  • rider uses a leather cinch
  • rider uses a cotton/nylon cinch
  • rider uses a rear cinch
  • rear cinch too loose
  • rear cinch too tight
  • saddled with a blanket
  • saddled with a pad
  • saddled with the wrong kind of pad or blanket
  • jumped in a western saddle
  • ridden in a roping saddle for cutting
  • ridden in a cutting saddle for roping
  • ridden bareback
  • ridden bareback with gripping legs
  • ridden bareback leaning too far forward
  • ridden bareback leaning too far back
  • ridden saddled leaning any way at all that causes disagreement
  • ridden with rider’s feet turned out
  • ridden with rider’s feet turned in
  • ridden with stiff legs and ankles
  • ridden with legs and ankles too loose
  • ridden with head up, heels down
  • not ridden with head up, heels down
  • rider posts when trotting
  • rider doesn’t post when trotting
  • rider accepts the wrong canter lead
  • rider does not accept the wrong canter lead
  • ridden with rope reins
  • ridden with a mecate
  • ridden with leather reins
  • ridden with split reins
  • reins are too short
  • reins are too long
  • reins don’t match the bridle
  • tack is all color-coordinated
  • rider uses shin boots
  • rider uses bell boots
  • rider uses no boots
  • ridden with a tie down
  • never ridden with a tie down
  • lunged in side reins
  • lunged with a cavesson
  • lunged without gear
  • ridden in draw reins
  • mouthed with side reins
  • mouthed with head tied around
  • mouthed from the saddle
  • mouthed from the ground
  • mouthed with long lines
  • never has seen long lines
  • bridled with or without a:
    • gag bit
    • snaffle bit
    • side-pull
    • Dr Cook bridle
    • No-bit bridle
    • any other kind of bitless bridle
    • Pelham bit
    • spade bit
    • curb bit
    • double bridle
    • bosal
    • bosalita
    • rope halter
    • buckle halter
    • no headgear
    • chain bit
    • Dr Bristol
    • French snaffle
    • anti-rearing bit
    • bridleless
  • browband must be correct
  • browband doesn’t matter
  • ridden in flash or drop noseband
  • must never be ridden on flash or drop noseband
  • ridden with dummy spurs
  • ridden in rowel spurs
  • ridden with any spurs
  • must not be ridden with any spurs
  • rider has boots with a tread
  • rider has boots with smooth soles
  • rider is in jeans
  • rider is in shorts
  • rider is in the wrong color jodhpurs
  • rider has the wrong helmet
  • rider has the wrong jacket
  • is ridden in a show without brushing
  • is ridden in a show and brushed
  • cannot be left in a paddock with other horses
  • cannot be left in a paddock without horses
  • cannot be parted from his ‘best friend’
  • cannot be fed around other horses
  • cannot be led from the left
  • cannot be led from the right
  • cannot be ridden on the road
  • cannot be ridden on open spaces
  • cannot be left while tied
  • cannot be transported alone
  • cannot be in a paddock with a shelter because he’ll get hurt
  • ridden with legs used in the back-up
  • must not be ridden with legs in the back-up
  • must be ridden with a certain degree on contact on the reins
  • must always be ridden with a drape in the reins
  • must not be ridden with a certain degree of contact on the reins
  • rider must not use direct rein
  • rider must always use direct rein
  • rider must use leg to bend
  • rider must not use leg to bend
  • rider may sometimes use leg to bend
  • rider must use outside rein/inside leg to bend
  • rider never uses outside rein/inside leg to bend
  • can be ridden in rollkur
  • must not be ridden in rollkur
  • must be educated with all things first on the ground
  • must be educated in all things first from the saddle
  • must be started at a certain age
  • ridden with a crop or whip
  • must not be ridden with a crop or whip
  • teeth are done with rasps only
  • teeth are done with mechanical tools
  • teeth are done by a vet
  • vaccinated regularly
  • owner chooses not to vaccinate
  • wormed regularly
  • owner chooses not to worm regularly
  • must have body work
  • must have alternative medicine over traditional medicine
  • must never use alternative medicine
  • must learn its job in a period of hours
  • must learn its job in a period of days
  • must learn its job in a longer period including weeks, months or longer
  • doesn’t need a job
  • should not be ridden
  • should be ridden daily
  • should be ridden a certain number of days a week
  • must have 30 minutes groundwork before riding
  • must be lunged for a certain time before riding
  • must be lunged for a period from a few minutes to several hours before a show
  • rider never does groundwork
  • must be mounted from a block
  • must be mounted from the ground
  • must be only mounted from the left or the right
  • must be mounted from both sides
  • must be mounted with head pulled around
  • must be mounted when the horse stands still
  • can be mounted if the horse is moving
  • allowed to graze while riding
  • must never graze while riding
  • may graze on the lead rope
  • may never graze on the lead rope
  • must behave
  • does not have to behave
  • owner questions: what does behave mean?

That was 265 points just there. I’ve heard about all of them.

If I sat here longer, I could think of more, because if you dig into the training methods of all the programs in the world, you’d come up with countless more-far too many to list.

I think it is all interesting, and this is just a scratch on the surface on this Sunday afternoon. Taking all the factors into account, it is no wonder the horse world is such a pressure cooker of opinion.

-The photo above is cowboy Oli Watts reading to his horse Jealousy, taken by photographer Charles Belden at the Z-T Ranch near Meeteetse, Wyoming, c. 1927 – 1928.

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4 Comments

Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Nicky Gilkisonreply
January 18, 2015 at 6:34 pm

You could write a whole list about breeds and purposes, breeds to Cross with or not, colour, conformation…

adminreply
January 18, 2015 at 7:59 pm
– In reply to: Nicky Gilkison

Exactly.

Irenareply
January 18, 2015 at 9:58 pm

Yes, I did giggle at the list That’s exactly like the pages on Facebook that I visit. Reading that have me anxiety. Isn’t that the human way. Always looking for a quick easy fix.

adminreply
January 18, 2015 at 10:04 pm
– In reply to: Irena

Got that right, Irena!

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