- December 19, 2012 at 8:51 pm #76247mitchmaineParticipant
lynn miller had an old teamster friend way back, who said something like “the longer i do this the less i know and the easier it gets.” hope i got that correct.
happy christmas, timDecember 20, 2012 at 1:37 am #76232
Hey Mitch, How is everything up in Maine? You are sly. I think you have learned more about horsemanship than you like to let on!
“I have never had a horse ask me for anything, but I continually ask my horse(s) for something so” That is a great example of leadership.December 20, 2012 at 1:18 pm #76248mitchmaineParticipant
everytime i have a good day with my horses, i usually walk in the barn, step on a hoe and pop myself in the chops. its a good balance. but i do love an ah-ha moment.
and i always appreciate your remarks on horsemanship. pressure release, line tension and so on.
thanks alot and happy christmas bud, good to hear you. mitchDecember 20, 2012 at 10:18 pm #76238Brad JohnsonParticipant
I really an enjoying this thread – so much wisdom here. I have been thinking a lot recently about how each horse I work with teaches me something, even when I am too foolish to realize it at that moment. Since I sold Pete last spring, I have had seven different partners working with my Bob horse, some for just a short time and others for months. Although this experience has certainly given me a few grey hairs dealing with different personalities, harness adjustments, squabbles around feed, equipment adaptations, etc. I think this whole thing is making me a better horseman. I realized very early on in my work with horses that the best teamsters are not young men, and I say that with great respect for those of you that have made a lifetime commitment to horsemanship. It is both an art and a science, as well as a way of life. I think that it takes time to develop a successful manner that allows a person to work in concert with different animals, just like it takes some decent people skills to form good working relationships with different types of people. Perhaps that are people around who are born for this work, but I don’t think I am one of them. I seem to create success from repetition and practice. The horses I have been fortunate enough to interact with have all offered me something, and it feels as though I get a little older I am more open to what they have to offer. Or maybe it is that I can see how the experiences I have with these animals might impact the next time out of the barn. And, the so called “bad experiences” – runaways, getting kicked in the pasture, overworking an animal and causing some injury, etc. – seem to offer the most in terms of my own learning and development as a teamster. I love this work and am happy to know that you all also take great joy from your work with your animals. Happy holidays, and be safe out there!
-BradDecember 21, 2012 at 2:31 am #76224
@grey 38329 wrote:
People who are going to be handling horses in any capacity really should have horsemanship training. The difference between a successful teamster and an unsuccessful one is horsemanship.
While there is some truth to this, I was thinking that allowing for the mysterious individuality of these relationships does not excuse us from being frank about some basic approaches to working with animals that are fundamental to success.
As we expand the exposure to working animals I have noticed more and more people who have tendency to look at the working horse as a product. Like it can be made. Like some series of events, or tests, can program an animal to be prepared for these situations.
Les Barden suggests that we should have more respect for the animal than that. A dignified approach to the horse recognizes them for what they are, and for what they are not. We needn’t try to show them respect by assigning capacities to them that we would expect from a human. In fact he holds this to be disrespectful, as well as foolhardy.
Expecting a horse to be able to process and react in a predictable way to the happenings such as Donn explains is not only dismissive of their true nature, it is also quite dangerous. The subtle complexity here is that by assigning more competency to the animal, we are abdicating the ultimate responsibility that falls on us as teamsters. We also ignore their incredible capacity for split second response to momentary communication, and we excuse ourselves from the responsibility of instigating that communication.
The working horse is not a product. It is a relationship, a communication. While certainly made beautiful by the cooperation of the animal, none-the-less begins and ends with the teamster. To work, the teamster must understand that the horse is not a human partner, so cooperation does not mean letting the horse have some say in the outcome. This abdication of leadership is what we are taught as a way of showing respect to other humans, “See, I can let you have some say in the outcome of our join venture”.. but to the horse it is seen as lack of intention, and opens the door for them to look out for themselves.
The hidden, personal, mysterious applications of communication are truly the art which is learned over time, but the way that we approach this situation CAN be taught, explained, demanded. It is the discipline, the responsibility, the culture.
I know it gets difficult to be frank with adults who are self-determining in the same way my mentors were to me as a child…. “Carl that cow doesn’t give a shit what you think, just put her through that gate”…… but it is part of being serious about what we are trying to share.
CarlDecember 21, 2012 at 1:37 pm #76233
Hi Carl, I couldn’t agree more with what you said right above. One question though; What in the quote about “horsemanship” didn’t fit with your thoughts? My simple definition of horsemanship would be taking the time to understand what a horse truly is. I started the other day with a young women that will be here for a couple months. I suggested the two things you need to know about horses is how they related to one and other, how they think, feel, and act as equines; and second how and why they relate to people and the work we do.December 21, 2012 at 1:54 pm #76225
@Donn Hewes 38388 wrote:
…. What in the quote about “horsemanship” didn’t fit with your thoughts? My simple definition of horsemanship would be taking the time to understand what a horse truly is. …..
I didn’t disagree per se with the idea of horsemanship as you define it. I was mostly replying to subsequent posts that expand the concept of horsemanship into the broad artistic application of communication skills etc.
One thing we all can agree on is that we all have personal adaptations of horsemanship that work for us, and at least as I am concerned, that is what it is all about.
However when we all agree that what we practice has so many shades of gray, we also make it seem to the novice that they are headed into something that is undefined, with room for personal interpretations.
I wasn’t given that opportunity. I had older men in my life that told me outright how to address animals….. not unlike where you are headed with your new student.
I just wanted to point out that while we can be humble about the vagueries of our craft, I believe we can be direct, and, as I alluded to, we actually owe it it some way of respect to our animals, about how one addresses the process of communicating with a working animal.December 21, 2012 at 9:10 pm #76234
“I just wanted to point out that while we can be humble about the vagueries of our craft, I believe we can be direct, and, as I alluded to, we actually owe it it some way of respect to our animals, about how one addresses the process of communicating with a working animal.” CR
What could be more fun than that. I think some of the great teamsters of the past took to heart what they had learned from communicating with horses and naturally applied it to people. They were direct, but understated, always sincere, and calm. They were natually quite because horses responded to that. To learn from them required you and I to recognize the thing we wanted was right in front of us and seek it through work. In the past, the young horse farmer would have been guided in this search by culture, family, history and tradition. ie. “If I watch grampa, I might learn something, If I imitate him I might be able to learn more.”
Today, when a farmer like me wants to pass this information on to some one else; neither of us started with that culture, history, or family. To teach the young teamsters of today, we have to find words to explain the value of being quiet. We have to demonstrate how we move to make something else stay still. This is the most fun and challenging work I have found. i find teach the horse easy by comparison. Talk to you soon, DonnDecember 22, 2012 at 3:01 pm #76226
So, in the last week I have made a commitment to adopt a 7 year old Suffolk gelding that apparently has had no previous work experience. He was basically just neglected, starved, and kept in a small enclosure, but his disposition seems affable and accepting.
I am also working with a young novice to increase his knowledge of working with horses for his future ambitions to farm and log with horse power.
I was thinking that most of what I really know about communicating with horses, I learned from working with horses that knew nothing. As experienced teamsters we can offer a lot through example, but working with animals that have become refined in the working communication, while they set a great example, don’t really open the door on those complexities that we all know exist.
I know that a novice with an inexperienced horse is a difficult situation. I also know that novices working with my refined animals can get in trouble because they can’t quite grasp the subtle consistencies that I use.
So what I hope to do this winter after the Suffolk gets here is to put the foundation under the horse and novice together. My theory is that the concepts will have more pertinence when applied to a horse that is learning them for the first time than theoretical application to a horse that is already informed.
I will try to document the progress with video, covering our discussions and the results of our approach to the animal.
CarlDecember 22, 2012 at 3:49 pm #76229Livewater FarmParticipant
when I first started with draft horses my mentor went out and got me a green 2yr old to start with
I feel it was the best way to start for me the colt knew nothing and I knew nothing
he showed me how to fit the harness then said go ground drive did that for weeks before he saw we were competent in starting stopping and backing he then showed me how to hitch single to a wagon and said drive if things get hairy just drive I want to find you and the horse together no matter what he also said he didnt care if I AND THE HORSE WRECKED AND DIED HE WANTED TO FIND ME WITH THE COLT AND MY HANDS ON THE LINES the lines have been in my hand ever since
bILLDecember 23, 2012 at 2:30 am #76242
@Carl Russell 38421 wrote:
…So what I hope to do this winter after the Suffolk gets here is to put the foundation under the horse and novice together. My theory is that the concepts will have more pertinence when applied to a horse that is learning them for the first time than theoretical application to a horse that is already informed.
I will try to document the progress with video, covering our discussions and the results of our approach to the animal.
Carl, I wonder if there is a way that we could get more folks involved in that video discussion. Just thinking.December 23, 2012 at 10:56 am #76227
@Tim Harrigan 38429 wrote:
Carl, I wonder if there is a way that we could get more folks involved in that video discussion. Just thinking.
Not as live feed…. from my perspective….. my schedule is too much seat of the pants. However, I expect to record short episodes, ie 10 minute contractions of 1/2 – 2 hour sessions, and share them in a blog format with some accompanying text, so that you all can review, comment, and critique as we progress, rather than trying to have one film covering the whole project.
I just can’t resist mentioning that you won’t see any tape of me tying the horse to a post and throwing himself until he learns to stand….:p
CarlDecember 23, 2012 at 1:36 pm #76243
No, I was not thinking live feed. Maybe considered discussion in video format, closer to the give and take on the forum except enhanced with video.December 23, 2012 at 1:38 pm #76254EliParticipant
Sounds like a cool project hopefully I can learn something I need all the help I can get.December 23, 2012 at 1:41 pm #76244
@Carl Russell 38434 wrote:
… 10 minute contractions of 1/2 – 2 hour sessions, …so that you all can review, comment, and critique as we progress, …..
We are not too far off, you seem to tend toward blog, I am thinking of the video sharing possibilities.
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