Welcome to the starting Romeo series.
This video accompanies the Horses and People article, March 2018. If you aren't yet subscribed to this terrific magazine, you can do so here.
In this month's video, you'll meet Romeo and we'll look at grooming, picking up feet and tying up.
Join me on Facebook LIVE, each weekday at 2 pm!
Wow, welcome to Day 100!
I really hope you've enjoyed the 100 Day Email Series. I've loved hearing about your horses and your experiences, so thanks to all of you that have left comments and the hundreds of emails I've received.
Many of the emails have included really interesting questions and while I've written back to those people individually, I'm now going to look at one a week in a little more detail. The 100 Day series will now become a Question & Answer weekly email. You'll recognise it in your inbox because it will have a subject line something like this: '[Q&A] Why is my horse so fabulous?'
When I first thought about making the 100 Day Series, I spoke to a friend about it and she said, "gosh, that sounds like a huge undertaking, how long will each one be?" I wondered about that and replied, "around 500 words, I suppose." Umm, came the response, "so you're going to write 50,000 words for a free email series....why?"
Now, doing a PhD, even one by publication...
"I couldn't possibly do that!"
"I don't have enough experience"
"I wouldn't know where to start"
"I've never been any good at that"
"I should do it but I don't have time"
"I could do it but I'm too old (young, fat, thin ....you get the idea)"
These are a few examples of the sorts of erroneous things people tell themselves about their own ability, not only when it comes to training their own horses but in a myriad of different situations in life.
Have you ever told yourself something along these lines, only to find that once you put a bit of effort into learning HOW to do the thing, that you were, in fact, fabulous at it and loved doing it? I know I have. Just recently, at nearly 50 years of age, I thought I couldn't possibly go back to university and study subjects such as chemistry and statistics but I made the effort and not only passed with at least a credit but actually loved the process of learning and engaging my (what I thought was) tired old brain. How about you?...
Last time we talked about the RSPCA's 5 freedoms, focusing on the first four. I'd like to look at the final Freedom now:
"Freedom from fear and distress: by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering".
As horse owners, or simply riders, we have a moral responsibility to provide this freedom for our horses. It's not as easy to observe as the others - it's clear when a horse has insufficient food or water or is housed in isolation. Unlike a dog, a horse will not cry out when distressed. Being flight animals, fear should result in fleeing but when training the horse is mostly restrained in some way so this option is thwarted.
As I mentioned in a previous post, the most surprising thing about the tight noseband experiment that I did was the fact that it was impossible to see that the horses were distressed simply by observing them. Other than standing more still when the noseband was tight, the horses appeared to have no adverse reaction to the tightening....
When we buy a horse, we all know what our responsibilities are (well, I'm sure those of you that have made it to #97 in this series are the type of owners that take this very seriously), we know we must provide food, shelter and fresh water. We're aware of the need to keep the horse healthy and provide veterinary care when required. Most of us also know that we must provide well-fitted tack so the horse does not experience the pain of an ill-fitting saddle or bit. Sadly, evidence reveals we are less clear on providing for our horse's social and psychological needs.
Most of us are familiar with the RSPCA's 5 Freedoms which state that the horse should have:
"1) Freedom from hunger and thirst: by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour.
2) Freedom from discomfort: by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
3) Freedom from pain, injury or disease: by prevention through rapid diagnosis and treatment.
Last time we talked about bringing a horse back to work after a break and I told you I'd give you a quick checklist of things to go through to make sure everything was in place for your first ride.
Here's the checklist:
If you'd like more detail on how to go through this list (in addition to watching video of a young horse progressing through each of the lessons) then refer to the Case Studies module in the Kandoo Equine Online Training. The Case Study will give you an overview and lesson details can be found within each of the relevant modules, should your horse need a refresher. If you are not yet a member and would like to be you can join here (or if membership is closed at the time of reading this, simply email me, [email protected] and I'll do my best to get you in).
Have you had a horse out of work for an extended period of time? If so, were you surprised at how quickly they came back and how much of their training they had retained? Tell us about your...
While we all try to be consistent with our riding and training, life gets in the way, which can result in our horses having extended periods of time off work. The question is - how do we bring them back to work and how do we know when they are ready to ride?
I used to always say that a horse would remember 80% of a 'well-learned' lesson for 18-months if left to its own devices and not taught anything to un-train that lesson. I still believe that it's true but perhaps it's even an underestimation in terms of time.
This is great news if you've found yourself too busy to ride for a while! People often think that they need to go back to the beginning when their horses have been off work for an extended period but I find just the opposite is true. It's been my experience that horses benefit from such time off (assuming the lessons have been positive and engaging) and almost always come back to work 'better' than they went out.
Of course, we need a plan to bring them back - one can't...
I'm often asked what my PhD project is about and what a research project in equine training and welfare looks like.
My project is a survey designed to collect data on how we manage and train our horses and how these practices affect behaviour.
If you'd like to learn more about the project and contribute to it by taking the E-BARQ survey yourself, please visit the E-BARQ development page. You'll find a video on this page about how the project has been developed and be sure to pop back from time to time to see how this important research tool is progressing and how it can help you and your horse in the future.
An email from Kate for the next 100 days to get you inspired and having fun with your riding and training!
Don't forget to go along to the FREE Training video section as well and set up an account (FREE) to access the material there.