Thursday, January 28, 2016

Nagging versus Drilling

The incessant nagging you do not only drives your partner mad, it drives him or her away and hurts intimacy. How can you learn to communicate more effectively and go from being a broken record to a poster child for relationship success? The first step is to recognize that asking for the same thing over and over again -- believe it or not -- just doesn't work.

Nagging is repetitious behavior in the form of pestering, hectoring, or otherwise continuously urging an individual to complete previously discussed requests or act on advice. The word is derived from the Scandinavian nagga, which means "to gnaw".  As expressed by Elizabeth Bernstein, a Wall Street Journal reporter, nagging is "the interaction in which one person repeatedly makes a request, the other person repeatedly ignores it and both become increasingly annoyed".

Most naggers don't know they nag -- they think their nagging helps and is just the repetition of useful tips. But the truth is, it's not up to them to decide if they are nagging or not: a helpful reminder becomes a stinging nag when the person who is being nagged says so.

Upholding your Horses' Reputations

While there is much truth to the fact that not every horse works with every human, that is not something that equine professionals have the luxury of entertaining. 

As professionals we have to work with every horse that is put in our path without any emotion. The best horse in the world is the horse between our legs. We must bring a blank slate to every ride in order to give horses a fair chance to show accomplishment. 

Yes, you can get pissed off, frustrated and upset sometimes; but the next ride you have to come back to each horse with a clean slate!

While this may be an article about humans, it has some great points that fit with my theory of how we the way we represent our horses reflect how horses will come to be seen:

The key points being:
  • You can't stop others from maligning a reputation, but a good reputation can come to its own rescue and defense.
  • A good reputation provides you a target at which to keep aiming. 
  • A good reputation represents a great marketing strategy. 
  • A good reputation inspires others. 
In our barn, we joke about how a past employee taught one of the little boys riding in our stables this script: 
"Which horse is your favorite?"
"EVERY horse is my favorite!! Especially the one you are riding."
But, quite honestly this little script has to be truth when you work in a stable because the emotions professionals display about their horses are contagious. Not just to clients but to staff, interns, volunteers and everyone else listening in. 

One comment or facial expression that displays that you don't like or prefer a horse has the potential to completely ruin a horse's reputation and end them on the "worthless" list permanently for everyone in the barn. This is because, lets be honest, there actually is some logic that if the professionals don't like working with a horse a novice wouldn't stand a chance.

This is why I rephrase things so often when describing our horses: 
  • not cuddly or girthy -> ticklish, sensitive
  • lazy or slow -> energy efficient, babysitting, protecting rider, making sure rider is ready
  • hot -> enthusiastic, tries too hard
Even the littlest positive can make a big impact.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Holistic Horse Buzz Words

A couple buzz words, that when I see on social media makes me skeptic of the poster:
  • Natural Balance
  • Barefoot Trim
  • Parelli
  • Positive Reinforcement
  • Bitless
  • Treeless Saddle
  • Natural Horsemanship

Do I follow most of these trends in my own stable and training techniques? Yes, totally! Many of my horses are barefoot and all of them can be ridden bitless as well as play the Parelli games. But some wear shoes, some perform better with bits, and others better partake at the more traditional training routines.
Do all of those trends have merit? Yes, totally! The experts that use these techniques on specific horses in specific ways are phenomenal.
The buzz words are used to sound smarter, forward-thinking and more educated, rather than in proper context with depth of experience. Whenever I hear those buzz words, honestly what I imagine is: 
A horse plowing over it's owner and completely ruling the relationship while the human is subservient to the horse's every need. I see lots of supplements, specialty tack, and branded toys, many unnecessary. I see a barefoot lame horse that isn't ridden very often as a result. I see tricks instead of occupation. 
I understand that there are professionals and true horse people who really got this figured out. But this image is what I see from their following, have taken these ideologies out of context and more often than not latched onto with undying loyalty by novice utopian idealist animal lovers on the Internet rather than fleshed out by inquisitive and practical expert animal handlers.
A true equestrian is one who works with what they have:
  • the horse's conformation
  • the horse's personality
  • the job description
  • the footing and environment
  • the horse's history

There are a MILLION tools out here to help horses. Some are more obviously extreme on both the "Holistic" side as well as the traditional side. But understanding WHY each technique is used is more important than finding the only answer. The best ways to understand a trend of thought, is to understand the negatives of what you adhere to and the positives of what you disagree with. Only then do you probably have an idea of what is the right answer for an individual animal.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Internship Q&A

What do you suggest for our personal specialty project?
Specialty projects can literally be anything. Here's some ideas from the past:
  • Working with babies and young stock
  • Providing extra-attention to the non-riding horses or lame horses, whether with rehab or just keeping their minds busy with groundwork and games
  • Building Projects, such as construction projects on the barn, building arena obstacles such as jumps or our hunter pace course
  • Management Skills - managing our teenagers and volunteers on various shortterm or longterm tasks
  • Teaching or Co-Teaching Lessons
  • Barn Organization and Creating Efficiency Systems
  • And beyond....
Can I take lessons?
You can totally either pay for lessons or apply your stipend towards lessons at the barn. We can give a large discount for this as well. 
We also strongly encourage our interns to teach one another and exchange knowledge. Teaching each other provides pedagogical practice for the teaching intern and a set of eyes and instruction for the riding intern.

Do I need to bring towels and bed linens?
We have linens here! Don't worry!

Will there be laundry facilities so I can do my laundry?
You have full use of my laundry - just use your own soap. We only ask that you don't go overboard and use up all of the hot water all of the time.