Wednesday, February 18, 2015

From the Manure Pile: Advice you don't need

Using the Bit that Works - Horse Collaborative

The Denny Emerson article above is interesting even if you've never evented, never wanted to event, and don't even know what eventing is.  It's interesting because the focus isn't really on bits, but on unwanted advice and the dangers thereof.  Everyone has something to say these days, especially on the beautiful Internets.

Choosing a bit or any other piece of tack, or a horse or any other animal, or a lifestyle or facsimile thereof is a very important decision.  So why are folks so ready to take advice from anyone willing to offer it?  Oh, sure, you probably know who the idiot is in your immediate circle of humans, and you're less likely to take to heart whatever comments that person makes...sort of.  Actually, you don't ignore any of it.  It seeps into your subconscious whether or not you open the door a crack, and the stuff resides there, festering, growing rancid and rank, and it colors your decisions in a very sneaky way.  But you can put up your shield a little and keep envisioning that person on horseback.  That's usually enough to dull the effect.

The woman (I can't bring myself to say "trainer"), for instance, who insisted that the only way to keep from ruining our new colt (that we had no business buying from her in the first place as we were total tyros) was to "knock him down, sit on his head, and beat some respect into him" did make us cry for a moment, until the day in the show pen when we were both doing the in-hand class side-by-side and her colt reared up and flipped over in front of the judge in a stunning "WTF!", horsey style.  That image was burned into my soul...as soon as I stopped laughing.
Only YOU can prevent
idiotic outcomes!

I grew up in a river of misinformation long before the World Wide Warp opened the floodgates to anyone with fingers.  So I wouldn't lie to you.  Really.  I wouldn't.

Or would I...?

Heh, heh, heh.

You can pretty much bet that I'm doing little more here than my usual, creating an odd melange of human psychology and horse ownership and humor and opinion strictly for the purpose of entertainment.  Mostly.  I do have an undercurrent of a theme of "leave the poor animals alone and stop pushing your crazy on them", but I have no stake in whether or not you buy into that.  I don't get paid for this (damn it).  Occasionally someone will buy one of my books, but I don't make more than a few pennies per copy.  So while you may not like what I'm saying, you can be pretty sure there's no hidden agenda.  Take it for what it offers and move on.

It's the self-designated experts who tend to cause all the trouble.

Sigmund Freud told me I was in love with my father, and not in a good way, opening the door to a whole passel of mixed feelings about my allowance.

Walter Farley told me I could save a horse who would eventually take me around the world on adventures and love me unconditionally and make my  hair long and flowy, leading to repeated entries into the Name This Filly contest that I (fortunately for all involved) never won.

Twiggy told me that I needed to de-boob and lose most of my body mass in order to look fabulous, giving me the incentive to develop a brief eating disorder that left me 20 pounds overweight as my disorder involved double cheeseburgers at midnight after starving all day (because calories hate the dark).

Teachers told me I could be anything girly I wanted, and what I wanted to be was a cowgirl, a drum majorette, or Wonder Woman, none of which worked out.

If the experts can't keep their stories honest, then why in the world are there so many people asking inept strangers for advice on problems with their horses/husbands/health/lottery numbers?

This subject started to really bother me this week because the monthly arrival of all of the horse mags brought the usual pages of "From the Mud Pit" stories by readers.  I'm sure it has ever been thus, but I swear the problems and comments are getting stranger.  It seemed to me that there were more people telling brief tales ("I was feeding my horse a ham sandwich and she bit my hand!") ending with odd conclusions ("I'll never buy another mare!").  Adding fuel to my personal fire were some posts on some social media sites by horse owners in need of serious guidance about their relationships with the Killer Whale they'd rescued/bought/leased that seemed determined to apply feng shui to a more appealing arrangement of its owners body parts.

You're taking advice from a woman
who did this to the dashboard of her Audi.
Most of these issues would have been better shared with a professional, in person, face-to-face, with the animal in question also present.  Some of them had the potential to be downright deadly if approached the wrong way.  And some of the responses from the rail birds ("web birds" might be more appropriate...consider it coined) who might or might not have ever set foot in stirrup as we're all pretty much strangers to each other, were so far-fetched and sketchy as to be humorous to everyone but the person desperately seeking surcease from the fray.

Shame on you!
So my advice today is to stop that.  Stop asking strangers for answers to questions that are vitally important to your continued existence.  There are a few notable exceptions, as in Denny Emerson.  But as the article linked above indicates, he's probably the last person who will offer advice on an unseen horse and an unvisited relationship.

Read texts on animal behavior (or whatever area is giving you trouble), go to clinics, learn from the best you can find  in person.  It won't be free, but at least it's likely to be less deadly.

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