Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Students of the Horse

I learned to clip from a halter trainer who's girlfriend was a groom at Lasma back in the high dollar days of the Arabian horse world. Back when Paradise Park was home to the Scottsdale show and Westworld was only a thought. Karho stood proudly next door with all of it's white pillars and magnificent beauty. Farms of all kinds lined both sides of Bell Road with pastures, fountains and long glorious driveways.

Jerry taught me to clip at the farm we worked out of, on a big grey gelding, because of the simple fact- Jerry hated clipping. He absolutely hated it. Thanks to him I not only learned a useful skill, but the horses didn't have to suffer through someone clipping on them while hating every minute of it. I have seen horses ruined by clip jobs like that. I have also seen lousy clip jobs coming from situations like those. Nobody wins there.

With everything in life, if you don't enjoy it, don't bother doing it. It's a waste of not only your time and money, but also a waste of time for your teacher or coach. They could be teaching someone else during the time you are wasting, while you are going through the motions. Just doing something to make someone else happy is not a way to do a good job or learn anything. On the contrary, your attitude may end up discouraging others while you are breaking things including tools and equipment, ruining it all for everyone else in the process. You get out of it what you put into it. Crappy attitudes bring half assed poor results.

When the interest is there, it makes teaching a little easier sometimes. Sometimes. Only because the talent does not always come with the interest. There are things I would like to learn how to do, but it doesn't come easy for me. I have to work a bit harder at perfecting it and it still doesn't happen as nicely as I would like or think it should. And just when I think I have it down pat, something else goes wrong, comes up, falls off, unwinds, unravels, hangs up or the wheels fall off. You get the picture. Then some days it all falls into place and works perfectly or smoothly. The next day its a completely frustrating and utter disaster! What gives???

We are our own worst critics. We want everything the way we want it and how we pictured it in our minds. While we may think we are clipping a horse to turn out flawless, there ends up being clipper lines galore. Everywhere. Making the horse look like they got into a fight with a lawnmower and lost. Aaaack!

Someone else comes along and wisks the hair away effortlessly, without any lines or mistakes to be seen. But ask them about the job they just did and their list of errors and mistakes are endless... They go back over areas you see nothing and more hair comes off. How did they see that? More importantly you ask yourself, how did I miss that?

It's the same thing with riding. The horse may be willing and giving me everything they can, but as the rider, I am still blocking their movement, restricting them in some way and not exactly helping them out. Everything may look good, but it can still look so much better.

Then someone else climbs on and Holy Smokes! Did anyone else know the horse could buck like that? Just kidding. They could get a whole new level of softness and movement from the horse making my jaw drop. Damn them! Why doesn't she move like that for me? What am I doing wrong? Or not doing at all? I couldn't see them doing anything different. What's the deal here?

And that's where the questions begin. That's where our choices come in. Do we teach them and help them or shut others down and shut them out? That's where the learning starts. That's where the horses show us when, where and how to improve. It's a process of developing an eye for these things and a way to correct them when they happen. The process never ends and sometimes you never know when or where you find the answers, let alone who's holding the keys.


  1. I think human nature is both. I know when speaking with certain folks, I can barely get past their voice, they have a wealth of knowledge but I just can't listen. Other I can sit and listen to ALLLLLLL day regardless of the topic.
    I sat and had an hour long conversation about cleaning sheaths, the owner wanted to know and we talked about different approaches.
    Other young adults have mocked myself and my age group b/c we are "know it alls". Um..excuse me for picking up a book or googling.
    I love this blog b/c we have breeders, H/J, Eventers, WP, Reiners, etc...we all get along and talk and brain storm.

  2. Interesting that you learned on a horse that hated being clipped, good incentive to get it right and fast! The love of learning is a lifeling thing , you either want to learn or need to learn.The ones that want to learn are truly the ones who are a joy to teach

  3. off topic-but: I went for a ride today.

    I have a great horse in Rosie. I know this, but sometimes maybe the knowledge of just how great recedes or dims somewhat. She reminded me of just how great she is today. Our ride was great, we took some roads and went through some hilly, thick timber, all with an eager stride, pricked ears and a willing attitude.

    We visited a neighbor a few miles away who is a horseman and a custom saddle maker. We were standing around chatting, discussing how nice a horse she is. We were standing a little ways from her, looking her over, when she turned to me, moseied on over and laid her head on my chest. My neighbor remarked that she was very bonded to me.

    It's great to have a nice horse, but it's even better to have a great one that you have that special bond with.

    She made my day today and she reminded me just how great a horse she is and how lucky I am to have her.

  4. Cool blog! Yeah - the last time I clipped my guy ...I could have sent him to a nudest camp!


  5. Fern, I edited the post to read Jerry hated clipping. I wondered about the clarity before posting it yesterday...

    Learning something from someone who hates the job and is looking for a way out of doing it, is not always the best route to take though. They aren't as likely to teach you the best methods to do something, simply because they have to do it in order to teach you. And since they hate it, they may not have put a lot into learning it in the first place, either.

    The horse Chewy was not so bad until it came to the ears. He was one of the 'sedate and restrain in as many ways possible, clip and get out!', kind of horses to work on when it came to his ears. That was when he was young and only showing halter. He taught me the true value and importance of your 'ground crew'.

    C3D- I will openly admit that while I may know a lot about some things, I do not know it all and certainly not about everything. Like you said, books and the web are my friends! As well as the many others here in "Horsey Blogger Land". We all bring a variety of backgrounds, breeds and knowledge to share which covers the variety of disciplines out there. Seems the horses come first in our world and common sense reigns like it should.

    Thanks to Tacky Tack recently posting about side saddles, it looks like we have grown by another person joining the group. Welcome aboard Julie. *waves* Did ya bring snacks? Just Kidding!

    Which reminds me we haven't had any exciting blogger *beer and popcorn* moments around here in a loooong time. (If ever?) Not that the drama is ever needed, but my foil hat is getting a bit dusty and shabby looking.

    Roses- the feeling of a horse burying their head in your chest for comfort, relief or compassion is one of the most awesome things in the world. The one horse who first granted me that feeling has long since passed, but it is one I will carry with me forever. Tearing up as I type this in rememberance of a bay gelding from my past named Fred.

    RIP- AA Firm Resolve.

  6. I wondered but then thought that might have been a good horse to learn on,after all they are not all going to be easy . The fact that is was Jerry that hated it does make more sense ,and how too bad that he did hate it , obiously your willingness to learn paid off

  7. Drat, I thought I commented here!

    I think we forget, or do not realize, how everyone sees things differently.

    Colours and details are my job. I helped one customer realize, as we were trying to match a colour for her, that everyone sees colours a little differently.

    Same with watching horses and riders.

    What I see, may not be what you see.
    Doesn't make either of us wrong.
    Well, okay, it makes YOU wrong, not me;)