Sorry, I tried to get pictures, but all in all it was very uneventful. Jae did put up siding while Black Boy was getting shod, but was done before it was Beaudreaux's turn. The boys were great. A few of mine were in the line up as well.
So, naturally, we talked about my work training horses. The Walkers got a lot of compliments on their nice manners for the farrier. Jon (the farrier) was shocked that I actually bought that psycho crazy gelding of Leah's (ok, that's not what he really said, it was more like "Oh! You know, I bet he's a ton of fun!"). Now, Poko and his little behavioral issues got us talking about how I addressed his problems - by challenging his mind.
So, when I came in, I started thinking about Kris, Voodoo's owner asking my about my opinion of NH trainers. Hmm. I'm not sure I ever answered her completely.
Now, just so you know, I don't hate any of the popular trainers out there. I've watched Parelli and Clinton Anderson in person. I actually do things very similar to how they DO them (not necessarily how they tell others to do them though). My problem is not in how they train horses, but in the lack of communication available in any form of DVD training series. ANY!
Oh sure, there are always basics. Don't let the horse do anything aggressive or harmful to you. Do praise the horse in some manner for doing the right thing. You know, things like that. But when you try to write a book or publish a DVD on how to completely and totally train a horse (which is often how both Parelli and Anderson, as well as many other trainer's work is advertised) then you're setting yourself up for failure. Why? Because there isn't a person around that could lift the book that contains all the possible information YOU need to know about YOUR horse. Trying to phrase things so that a horsey novice can understand them, in many cases, results in a concept that is vague or incomplete.
As an example, I watched Anderson correct a horse's bad behavior simply by altering his body language to say "Hey, I'm the alpha horse here, do not push me around". The horse, being a submissive type personality, naturally stopped trying to be pushy, and became respectful of personal space. This is a horsey instinct after all (because more dominant horses KICK HARD!). Anderson never explained that body language, nor how to be in control of your body language. Why? Maybe because he didn't know he did it? Maybe because he didn't want people to think he was a "big meanie"? Maybe because he had no idea how to put the entire idea of how horses relate to body language into a 5 minute segment? I honestly don't know.
Another example; I watched Parelli guide his horse through an obstacle course using seat and leg aids only. The ordeal was presented as one of those "how much the horse loves working with me" thing. The idea that the rider needed to learn to control his/her own body, and that there are ways to communicate with touch only, were never discussed. It looked "amazing" and "miraculous" to so many people. To me, it looked rough, and unbalanced, but then again, I watched the Stacy Westfall video.
My problem with cookie cutter trainers, is that in most cases it's all about selling an idea to a lazy person. Yes, I'm calling fans of most "fashionable" trainers lazy. I mean, if you're not lazy, then you'd be out asking people questions, either on forums, in person, or calling tons of trainers to get personalized help. Instead, the mentality is that the horse is somehow to blame. As an example "my horse is mean" or "My horse won't go". Well sure, any horse can be mean if allowed to think it's in charge. I mean, have you WATCHED a herd of horses? Those alphas aren't always the kindest ones out there! And if your horse is not obeying your commands, it's most likely because your aren't giving the commands properly. Now, ok, those were blanket statements. I have to admit here, that the only "rule" I believe in with horses, is that there will always be a horse that breaks the rules!
But really, how many of us looked forward to spending YEARS trying to perfect our skills, knowing that we would never master them? (Ok, I have to admit that I've always thought this was one of the neatest things about horses, but I'm weird). And how many people are excited to know that solving their problems will often take months? We all want a quick fix, so who can really blame any one for hoping that there really IS a pill that will make you skinny, or a trainer who can make a perfect horse with only a $150 dollar book/DVD/training tool?
But then there is the reality. In every partnership, there is a horse, and the human handling it. If you change one of those, the entire partnership changes. We easily accept this with people, but for some reason we expect horses to be carbon copies of their species. No horse should ever be an individual! That's just crazy talk!
A few examples:
Your old boss, and your new boss. You never think it's "weird" that the new boss acts differently. Maybe the old boss liked to give you words of encouragement, and the new boss doesn't? Maybe the new boss has an open door policy, while your old boss wanted a printed memo of anything you needed to talk about?
That waitress at your favourite coffee shop? The girl who worked there before knew that you wanted 2 creams and raw sugar, but the new girl tried to bring you milk and equal! Why can't she just get it right?
And horses. My last horse would walk down the street with out a problem, but my new horse spooks at everything when I take him away from his herd! My Chestnut horse is always so calm and mellow, but needs strong aids to perform the moves I ask for, while my Grey is so light and responsive, but tends to never stand still when tied up!
The concepts that Cookie Cutter Trainers (CCTs) use are not bad ones. They just aren't enough to properly train a horse. Oh sure, you can do somethings, and you can probably do them well. But what do you do when the problem isn't in the book? I honestly believe that most people can train a horse. I also believe that most novice horse owners are attracted to the exactly WRONG type of horse for themselves. This is like playing the video game on hard mode, and then wondering why the guy playing on easy mode has a higher score, and gets further.
So, I guess it's not really the CCTs I hate, so much as this idea that there's a way to solve all our problems for only $19.95 (+ shipping and handling). Owning a horse is like a marriage - it takes WORK and YEARS of dedication. Both parties have to be able to work together, and both sides have to learn new things, and learn to accept that their partner isn't perfect, and understand that time will change how things work on both sides. But, with that said, if you put in the time and effort into doing it as well as you can, in the end, it's a rewarding experience.