Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Miss My Pony

I've barely seen Izzy lately, and it shows. My husband and I were at Borders last night. I (surprise!) ended up in the horse section. I love to look through their books, but I rarely buy anything. It's usually a bad selection and overpriced, so if I do find anything I like, I just go find it online. I know, I know, that's not going to keep Borders in business.

There were a couple books that caught my eye. One, Beyond the Track, is very tempting. It's all about retraining an ex-racehorse, from the pre-purchase inspection to advanced riding. I'm fascinated but I know better than to buy a book that is just going to make me want another horse even more. One project pony is enough.

I looked at two other books, and was rather appalled. One was on natural horse care or keeping horses naturally, or somesuch. Obviously, the book was promoting a certain agenda that I'm not totally sold on. It has some fairly solid-sounding advice about feeding horses, but when it delved in to tack, it just started to annoy me. In every picture, the tack was ill-fitted, cooked, poorly adjusted, and/or dirty. It's one thing if I put up pictures on my blog of dirty tack, which I don't. I'm not getting paid by anyone for it. It's quite another to publish a book like that.

The other book was on fixing problem horses. I'd provide a link, but I didn't pay attention to the title and a brief amazon search isn't turning it up. In nearly every picture in this book, the horses were in either draw reins or martingales and the riders were helmetless. In addition, the riders' positions looked a lot like mine right now: unpolished. Another picture featured a barrel racer with a tie-down connected to her horse's poll. Over the poll was a chain.

I'm disgusted. I know it's not "traditional" to wear a helmet and ride western, so I'll leave that alone for now, but english riders without helmets in a training book? Really? I can thank my helmet for the fact that I'm here today, so this bothers me.

Next off, while I acknowledge the book did not specifically advocate using draw reins and martingales in the text, certainly showing them in all the pictures has an equally powerful effect. What are they thinking? I'm not totally anti-draw rein. I think they can be used briefly and tactfully to further a horse's training by an experienced rider. That certainly does not extend to someone who is buying a book to train their horse. And martingales? Really? I used one on Izzy briefly after she gave me a concussion from throwing her head. I became convinced that she threw her head due to discomfort at her withers, and after getting my new saddle, took it off. She hasn't thrown her head since. I understand some high level jumpers and eventers wanting martingales to prevent accidental concussions like the one I got, but beyond that, I do not support their use. If you are training a horse, the martingale should become unnecessary and again, they should not be marketed to people who will use them because they saw them in a book.

As for the chain over the poll... I have no useful words. Maybe it would help if we made the rider and photographer try doing similar athletic feats with their arms chained down. Hm, sounds like it would be easier and kinder to instead do things slowly and let the horse develop balance than just chain their head down and hope for the best... just a thought.

The other treasure I found was a book by Mark Rashid, who Kate is a fan of. While looking through his book, I realized that he is the author of a book I read when I was pretty young and haven't been able to locate since. Score!! I love his methods and writing style, so when my bank account has recovered from ordering my bridle, I'll be looking in to getting some of his books online. The book I read of his years ago was the one that gave me the idea for dealing with Izzy's sticky spot problem. Hooray!

Oh well. I'm hoping to sneak out and ride this afternoon, which means I need to get cracking on homework right now.

1 comment:

  1. Horse books can be frustrating. Just like clinics, you need to learn how to, (as my first really good trainer used to say) "separate the wheat from the chaff." She always told me it was all right to take lessons from many different trainers since she was sure I had established a good, solid understanding of the basics and knew what was good and what was not.

    Same with the books. But that one with the dirty tack and no helmets needs to be deep sixed ASAP.

    Somewhere, another blogger mentioned a book supposedly written to teach people how to ride without a horse. So, all they need to do is read the book and..."instant horseman."


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