Aug 30, 2012

Small Therapeutic Doses

This is how we taught Bryan The Rules.

At the time all the boys lived in stalls. So first thing they would all go out. But usually before they went out they would go in to the cross ties for a quick groom, check, what have you. I don’t boot so they are always bare legged but they would get fly sprayed or whatever.

B had a total thing about the cross ties. Well, B had total things about a lot of things but he had a *big* total thing about the cross ties. My cross ties at the time faced the row of stalls. But behind them was a large lawn, with a lake, and ducks, and birds, and frogs, and a driveway. All of these things periodically made NOISES. In Bryanville, NOISE was bad. And noise *behind* you was DEATH. Of course, I am making that up as I have no way of actually knowing that. But that was sure how he acted. Or over reacted, as the case may be.

He would always walk *in* to the cross ties, but halfway around would leap *out* of the cross ties. Of course, since the human leading him in was right there, said human would go flying. Sure, you could muscle him around and push him back in, smacking him on the shoulder and telling him to get over himself. I certainly did that lots and lots of times. But I wanted to fix him, not just bully him. So we had frequent cross tie training sessions that went as follows.

Bryan faces the cross ties. His head is up and he is searching the horizon. He knows the ducks, frogs, birds, and cars are behind the cross ties, waiting for their moment for DEATH. I have a chain over his nose. I do not shank him or anything, but I softly pull down on it; I ask him to bring his head down. That’s all. Just to bring his head down. He gets, in a week or two, that a soft chain pressure means put your head down. Of course, like a shot, the head is instantly back up. So we work, for a long time, on put your head down, and keep it down. For one second. For two seconds. For 30 seconds.

When he would put his head down and keep it down for a second or two or ten, we would take a step toward the cross ties. Up would go the head again, since now he was One Step Closer to DEATH. Self-Preservation Perusal Process Re-Activated SIR! And so we would ask, again, for the head to go down. And we would do this over, and over, and over. One step at a time, head down. Until we were half way in, or part way in, but before we turned around.

Aug 28, 2012

Rules Are Good

Back to Bryan!

As you’ve seen, he was a festival of issues. He was not lame per se, as in he did not limp, but he moved so weird, like a gaited camel hybrid. He was not aggressive, but he sure was shut down and overreactive. He wasn’t ‘naughty’ but his issues sure made him a challenge on the ground; he rushed through openings, he crushed you in the cross ties, he leapt forward or back at a bird or lizard in the brush and woe to you or your foot if you were in the way.

People always notice and comment that my horses are well behaved and relaxed. One client nicknamed me Tranquilla after her horse came to me and became so mellow and nice. I can give any one of them a shot or wormer or whatever, loose in the stall. I can free lunge them, silently, with hand signals and body language. Trust me, they did not come this way. But they all learned, their first day with me, that no matter how badly they behaved, how spoiled they were, or how aggressive they were, that Tall Girl (me) had Rules, and it didn’t matter how long it took, or how much they fought them, the Rules were Immutable.

Aug 22, 2012

When We Were Young


Well, things have been busy here. I had my birthday, my dads 88th birthday, a house full of daughters and nieces, and two of my dearest and oldest friends came for visits. I ordered new products that decry Rollkur for the itsnotforsissies store. I have not ridden in a month. Its been hot! But now the guests are gone (waah!), the nieces and daughters are all back in school (waah!), the weather has changed for the better (yay!), the Olympics are over (more on that later), and things are getting back to as normal as they ever get here at Kogler Haus.

There are always a ton of things to write about; I want to get back to Bryan; I want to start to share the stories of some of the other boys; I want to talk about therapies and riding position and attitudes and all of the things that horse girls can talk about at length, but I think today I will talk about my friends.

I have lots of really wonderful friends. I have been very blessed that way. I have friends across lots of groups; school friends, camp friends, piano friends (I played and taught for many years), garden friends, history friends, work friends. I love and appreciate them all. But maybe since so much of my life has been horse based, my horse friends just seem to be the ones I see the most, and treasure the deepest.

Aug 5, 2012

FEI, you suck.

Heres Patrick Kittel, of the blue tongue fame, showing us how its done at the Olympics. The FEI assured us on its FB page that the stewards were ON it. No rollkur here!

Feh. Seriously. Feh. A pox on them all.

Rollkur is harmful. Rollkur is unnecessary. Rollkur is cruel. FEI, you suck.

Seriously. This is why, on Dr. Heuschmanns recommendation, I made my hats that say 'DRESSAGE-Ist Nicht fur Rabauken' and the back of the hats say 'Pferde Nein Ensklaven'. This translates as 'DRESSAGE-its Not for Bullies' and the backs say 'Horses Arent Slaves'. Its my own way of putting it out there.

We need to put these people out of business. We need to tell the FEI that we care. We need to tell show managers that we know which judges reward this. It will not stop until people make it very clear, with their pocketbooks and their voices, that it *must* stop. If we love our horses, and we love our sport and our industry, we have to speak up.