View Full Version : Feeling the blues!
26th Feb 2003, 08:32 PM
Have got the blues! Recently decided to stop going to the riding school I attend here in Scotland. I have been riding a very special 16.hh bay for the past three to four months and he has taught me so much. Funny is'nt it how you can usually remember every horse you have ever ridden! Anyway, I made a conscious decision to stop attending this school the last time I was there on Tuesday last week. The spark that this horse used to have has just gone - and I have scratched my head so many times wondering what it could be. The only reason I can come up with is that this horse it dreadfully unhappy and bored.
I cannot really write anymore now because I am feeling so sad for him, knowing that there is nothing I can do for him. I guess this is the peril of some riding school horses.
It is not all 'gold' out there.
Will write about more jollier times I am sure ... Just felt the need to share my hurt.
26th Feb 2003, 08:40 PM
Maybe the horse is just feeling the winter blues himself? I wouldn't give up on what sounds like a really special guy. Is there any way you could spend some more time with him? I think sometimes animals just aren't given the TLC they need to be their bouncy, happy selves. Maybe he'll pick up his step in spring. Poor guy, I really sympathize with the school horses. Every lesson I feel so bad for my guy when I have to put him out in his paddock and he has to walk by the boarding horses in their cozy stalls. Oh well...he gets an extra treat out of pity...:) Good luck with the horse- I hope he feels better. Is he older? I remember riding a gelding who just got progressively slower with each lesson and I couldn't figure it out...until I learned he was 35!!!!!!
26th Feb 2003, 08:53 PM
you say the spark has gone, but are you seeing any dysfunctional behaviour ? Our ponies in Scotland are starting to lose their winter coat, and some horses can seem a bit lethargic when their coat is changing. Guess all their energy is going into growing nice new fur ! :D
If he is bored and unhappy, what about HIS hurt ? I know he is 'only' a horse, but as long as you are still learning, isn't it good for him to have an hour regularly with someone who cares ?
2nd Mar 2003, 04:07 PM
I bet he is just feeling a bit under the weather because of the weather!! But who knows? At least if you go and make a fuss of him he will look forward to the times you ride him.:D
School horses always remember the riders no matter how many they have, so he will know that you care.
2nd Mar 2003, 08:56 PM
Get back to school and see that precious boy !
I've got a bond with one of the horses at my yard. He's an absolute sweetie and I look forwards to riding him every week. They are all well looked after by the stable hands and are all very happy horses, although I do get pangs of guilt whenever I say goodbye. I'd love to give Teddy more love and I hope (with more training and the chance to help out) to show him how much I appreciate him.
I'm sure the people at your yard would be happy if you asked to groom him and give him some love and attention as I'm sure they've got their hands full looking after all the horses in the yard.
Don't feel sad. I'm sure the horse you love can sense your upset. You'll feel happier if you spend more time with him - at least you know you'll know what you are doing is helping him.
Is there a small chance they'd let you loan/part loan him so you'd get more time with him ?
Keep smiling :):):)
xxx P xxx
3rd Mar 2003, 12:27 AM
Some riding schools just treat horses as if they are merely commodities. The first riding school I worked at, I used to lie awake at night thinking about how bored and unhappy those horses were. I still think about them even now and feel desperately sad/angry. The only time they ever got out of thier stalls was for a lesson and then they went straight back. Most of them looked so depressed, heads hung low and even sighing. I prefer riding schools where the horses largely live out as they get to roll, run and play and of course graze which is what horses are meant to do. I wish there was legislation in place that would set guidelines for the proper welfare of horses. This should insist that all horses kept at riding schools have daily access to open spaces, if only for a couple of hrs a day, to allow them to indulge in natural behaviour. Its not fair to expect them to do everything for us and not give them anything back. God I'm getting angry thinking about it. Its so unfair!!
I fully support free-range farming. Why cant we have free-range riding schools?!!
3rd Mar 2003, 05:37 PM
You have summed it up in a nutshell!
I am not attending any more riding schools that do not allow their working horses an opportunity to 'stretch their legs' and frollick freely in a field once or twice a week. I also find the excuse (sometimes given) that horses should work for their keep - quite appalling - when they are kept in a stall all day!!
I attend an Icelandic trekking organisation (highly recommended by the way) near Edinburgh. The horses live out most of the time (natural to their breed) and enjoy their 'work' trekking and hacking out. Two other riding schools in Chester (moving there soon) are excellent too as the horses are kept in stalls but also are given respite once/twice a week.
Thankyou Mojo ... I feel you have responded in the way that I was hoping others would. Have you heard of natural horsemanship and Parelli?
3rd Mar 2003, 08:16 PM
I like the fact that the horses at my riding school have an official day off lesson once a week, and they get to be outside pretty regularly even in winter. Its always nice to turn in to the drive for my lesson and see the horse I rode the week before grazing in the field in front of me! They are all wonderful rides, sometimes tough but never sluggish, and with wonderful smooth paces- I always notice the difference when I get on a friends half schooled 'rebel'!
4th Mar 2003, 01:27 AM
I am not over familiar with parelli but I attended a kelly marks, demonstration last year which was fascinating and am a Monty Roberts and Mark Rashid fan. I was quite heartened when I read your post because so often I feel people dont really listen to horses and its clear that you obviously do. I have only been riding for 18 months, used to ride when I was a kid and then started up again after moving to the country. During this time I have been given a lot of bad advice, and have had some bad/terrifying experiences. The horsey world can be quite an intimidating place and there is a lot of what i consider to be 'ignorant' people out there that consider themselves experts. They know everything there is to know about riding,stable management,saddlery,points of the horse etc.,which i don't, but don't actually consider how a horse is actually feeling inside.(I would like to say at this point that this dosent include most of the people I've corresponded with on this site, who have been a breath of fresh air!) Anyway I have reached the point where I have decided that no matter what anyone tells me i am always going to go with my gut instinct. I think you have definately made the right decision about your choice of riding schools. I dont ride at a riding school anymore because both my local schools are unsatisfactory. I now ride at an agricultural college which is a bit of a trek but I have the satisfaction of knowing that the horses are well cared for. They get regular turn out /hacking in addition to school work and they always look happy and alert.
You must let me know how you get on at those riding schools in Chester, my mum lives just outside Chester and I might check them out next time I visit.
4th Mar 2003, 02:10 PM
Hi Mojo, you didn't really need to ask the question in the first place - the answer was already in your heart !
I've got a choice of two riding stables (London doesn't give you much field space to turn horses out). The first yard keeps their horses in stables but the facilities are brilliant and the horses are happy and healthy (they have over 100 horses and ponies in livery and working livery) plus a large amount of space for hacks, which they all go on on a regular basis. The second one does have the facility to turnout the horses, but the horses are miserable and the stables aren't that clean - the stables look inwards - not outwards so they can't see what's going on !
Yes, horses are grazing animals and I agree with the fact that it would be lovely to be able to offer horses a chance to roll and graze in a field. My point is as long as the horses are happy, in good condition AND NOT BORED, plus the yard is clean and healthy then I'll go for that type of stable time and time again.
The City of London police horses are kept in stables just round the corner from where I work. I think they might get the 'odd' holiday but not 2 hours on a daily basis - they'd have to graze in Finsbury Circus, along with the city workers having their lunch !!! They work for their living and I'm sure they get rewarded - I know it's not the right thing to say (I'm going to get a crop from someone for this remark !) but we all have to earn our keep - life is not a free lunch !
I hope that poor horse and the others in the yard are ok. Does the yard do livery as well ? Is there no chance of speaking to any people who have their horses in livery ? Are they satisfied about the care of their horses ? Does the yard have any fields they could use for grazing ?
If you've noticed anything untoward perhaps it would be best to report them to the BHS or some other reputable society ?
XX P XX
4th Mar 2003, 04:13 PM
well Pollski of course a lot of other factors come into play dont they? and I'm not suggesting for a moment that we should all live in cloud cuckoo land.Of course riding establishments need to make money to survive and I dont condemn all riding schools as I myself know of several places where i'd say the horses are more than healthy and happy. Like you say it comes down to the level of TLC they get. What gets me though is that the particular riding school I was refering to is a so called BHS approved establishment. All the stalls bar a couple are inward looking and I agree with you, if a horse has to be kept in, it should at least have good light and a stimulating view, if only to see the comings and goings on in the yard. In fairness the boxes are a good size although some of them are very dark. The school is surrounded by open fields but due to a lack of staff resources the horses did not go out, some of them would get out for a couple of hrs a week on a rota basis if they were lucky. I worked there during the winter, so in all fairness i don't know what happens to the horses in the summer. Hopefully they live out during the summer. The horses to all intents and purposes were properly fed and watered and on the surface all probably looks well but I know what a happy horse looks like and those guys were not happy. A lot of them would just stand in a corner with thier heads down. There is more to caring for a horse than simply making everything look ok on the surface. One particular horse, was a real old girl not often used for lessons because her legs were so stiff with arthritus. She had the darkest stable on the yard where she would stand for hours on end in an ill fitting rug that continually slipped and restricted her movements further. Some reward for a lifetimes service as a riding school horse. I used to stay behind after my shift whenever i could so that I could just bring her out into daylight if only for 20 minutes or so, get that awful rug off her and give her a grooming before putting the bloody awful thing back on and then returning her to her gloomy stable for the night. If I didnt do this nobody else seemed to bother. In all fairness i felt sorry for the staff as they were rushed off there feet, so I'm not blaming them. She was finally put to sleep and although i was sad it was a blessing for her. I actually contacted a friend who worked for the RSPCA at the time and she told me that as long as an animal is given shelter and sufficient food and water and isnt being beaten or suffering from any neglected disease then little else can be done, as by and large the owner is not seen as doing anything wrong. I would say that most of those horses were suffering from neglect of the psychological kind, boredom and depression is a disease of the mind, but this dosent seem to count in the eyes of any law. I dont have anything to do with that place now as I grew to despise the owner. All I am trying to say is that we should all take time to really look at what horses are saying with thier body language. If they are lack lustre with no spark there is something wrong no matter how shiny and new there stable may look or how well fed they may be. Sorry to go on about this. I feel as if I've slipped into a bit of a rant here, but I do feel very strongly about this!! This isnt aimed at you. Just needed to get it off my chest.
4th Mar 2003, 04:51 PM
Mojo ! Everything's cool !!!
I think I had a rant (not directed at you either) in my last email.
I'm so sorry - I didn't realise this place was so bad ... :(:(:(
You seriously have my 100% backing there. It's like putting bears in a cage and wondering why the hell they rock from side to side, pacing and going slowly mad.
Places like that make me mad :mad: however rather than feel like I can't do anything I'm going to make enquiries.
I've tried to log into http://www.ilph.org (can't at mo) to see if they deal with anything to do with mental neglect of horses and ponies - or perhaps know of someone who can deal with things like this. I'll keep you posted.
5th Mar 2003, 09:36 AM
I think there is some work going on at the moment to define the basic 'freedoms' an animal should have. This is needed to update the animal welfare legislation. At the moment it is difficult to act until the animal is already proven to be suffering - which is a bit backwards if we are supposed to be protecting them !
Anyway - Heather Simpson did something on 'freedoms' in one of the recent magazines. I don't know if this is her own version (suspect so) but the basic 'freedom' is something like freedom from stress/anxiety - i.e. that you are not going to be attacked. Then it goes on up through access to water, food, etc.
Like a horsey version of a hierarchy of needs.
So there is work going on at the moment, which will (hopefully) lead to improvements at some stage in the future.
5th Mar 2003, 01:37 PM
Mojo well said for your 'rant'. I am now lucky enough to have my own riding school so what I want to do I do! My horses are out at night in summer and in the day time in winter. Obviously if it is snowing or the fields are totally sodden we cant turn out and them produce clean horses for rides (although my customers are used to muddy legs I would rather it wasn't over the knee!) As well as this the whole yard has a 'weekend' from Sunday lunchtime to Tuesday evening when they go out and play as a giant herd and a week off in summer and in winter to chill. Even so I still see the odd bored pony..particularly little ones who do lots of beginners rides but we do then try to then take them out for a gallop or do something different. While I was training however I did see a lot of yards as you describe including one exam centre with immaculate horses which were never turned out and only went outside to go from the covered stable yard to the indoor school. I think most staff do their best but they can only follow the manager or owners guide.
5th Mar 2003, 03:36 PM
eml your riding school sounds great! and its so true about the majority of people who work on yards. They are usually overworked and under paid and just carrying out the instructions of the yard owners. I know so many goodhearted, hardworking people who have given up working with horses as they just cant hack whats expected of them.
I wouldnt worry too much about muddy horses. Where I ride the horses are usually very well groomed but I love it when I turn up for a lesson and find my horse all muddy in the stable because I know he/she has been out and having a great time. Then again I suppose if they always looked like that I would be wondering if they ever got groomed and would worry the other way, so you are right to set such standards. I suppose all horses get bored of thier work occassionally as us humans do. The only difference being that we can change jobs and they cant. But like you have said the only thing we can do in this situation is take note and come up with ideas to break up the monotony. Anyway it sounds like you're doing a great job. The horse industry needs more people like you!!
Take care and good luck with everything!
(p.s. I am gutted! I have just found out my wonderful riding instructor is moving away - oh no she cant go I need her!!)
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