Horse back riding. - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 08-03-2011, 01:20 AM
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Just curious to get everyone's opinion on this.

I have an aquantince (a fairly outspoken vegan) who is into horseback riding and raises horses herself. We've had a number of discussions on the subject and she has actually given a well informed apologetic as to why horseback riding isn't inheriantly cruel or hurtful to the horses. I know quite a few Animal Rights activist might consider the practice "specist" but I was curious to get the thoughts of people here. Do you think riding animals like horses is demeaning to them or objectionable in any way?

Just curious.
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#2 Old 08-03-2011, 08:08 AM
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I disagree with horseback riding. Utilizing animals for human whims is a one sided contract. There really isn't an option for the horse to opt out of the whole process.

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#3 Old 08-03-2011, 08:43 AM
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I'm not against horseback-riding. Some horses really seem to enjoy it. It provides horses with a lot of physical and mental stimulation which can be hard to get just from accesses to a paddock (and i think that's especially important for horse rescues). I don't think horses who don't benefit from riding should be ridden and i'm against breeding them, especially now when there are so many equines here in need of a good home.

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#4 Old 08-03-2011, 08:44 AM
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If the horses aren't being raced or otherwise abused, it's more of a philosophical issue.

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#5 Old 08-03-2011, 06:30 PM
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If the horses aren't being raced or otherwise abused, it's more of a philosophical issue.

I think I would consider confinement and having my life run by someone else (what I eat, where I live, and what I do, including manual labor) abuse.

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#6 Old 08-03-2011, 06:43 PM
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I think I would consider confinement and having my life run by someone else (what I eat, where I live, and what I do, including manual labor) abuse.

I agree.

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#7 Old 08-03-2011, 07:37 PM
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If you like being out and about with a horse, why not just walk with one? Why does the horse have to lug you around?

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#8 Old 08-03-2011, 08:37 PM
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Don't horses have to be broken in order to ride them? If lugging humans around on their backs was natural for them I don't think it would be so hard to convince them to put up with it.

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#9 Old 08-05-2011, 02:09 AM
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I got the impression from what she told me that the horses don't have to be "broken" per say but that they just have to be assured that you won't hurt them. I guess I had some misguided opinions based on the fact that I apporach AR issues more from an abolitionist "is it right to use animals" rather than a "is it cruel use" viewpoint.
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#10 Old 08-05-2011, 09:17 AM
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The way I see it, it isn't cruel (as far as I know) if the horse is treated well, but it isn't what I'd call morally ideal either. I don't like the idea of domesticated animals, or using animals for our own ends, and horse back riding is really both of these. It's not the most important battle out there by a long long shot though.

Also, I wonder, if you adopted a horse and wanted it to be able to go for a long run, you couldn't run along side as they'd go too fast - so maybe the only solution is the ride it? I'm not sure really, but perhaps a horse being ridden around is happier than a horse confined to either trotting or it's paddock. I don't really know a lot about horses though, so I really have no clue!
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#11 Old 08-06-2011, 06:59 PM
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Animals aren't for us to use. You can walk next the horse. Would you want him on your back??? That's just what i think.
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#12 Old 08-06-2011, 08:27 PM
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Don't horses have to be broken in order to ride them? If lugging humans around on their backs was natural for them I don't think it would be so hard to convince them to put up with it.

no no no! they do not. most do it that way because it's easiest for the humans to get what they want out of them. not good for the horses.

my mother has three horses - two mares and a baby mustang who she rescued from a shelter. she loves her horses and cares for them very well. her horses love her in return. one, brandy, was spooked once by a horsefly and stumbled, my mom was thrown off and broke her hip. brandy stayed with my mom until help arrived, nuzzling her. my mom is very against slaughter, racing, or "using" horses in any way - she rides them to give them exercise and to bond with them. brandy only trusts my mom, and no one else. sheba is a big fat happy girl who is a joy to ride bareback, and an incredible sweetheart. sisco, the mustang is just over two years and has not been ridden once. my mom has been enjoying watching sheba mothering him and helping him learn new things, and will attempt to see if he's ready to be ridden next spring. another good thing is because of her absolute adoration of horses, it has helped open her mind to MY lifestyle, and she is super supportive and tends to agree with my beliefs on veganism and animal welfare. she hasn't made many changes yet, but i think she may in the future. and if horses helped her to this point, i am perfectly fine with her keeping them. they are happy horses and i love them. granted i would love for horses to not be domesticated, but these are and i wouldn't want anyone else to have them.

edit: i neglected to mention my mom did not break any of her horses.
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#13 Old 08-20-2011, 11:51 AM
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Don't horses have to be broken in order to ride them? If lugging humans around on their backs was natural for them I don't think it would be so hard to convince them to put up with it.

Some horses are actually not too uptight about being ridden. My daughter had a Friesien filly for a while, and even though Bree was never 'broke' to ride, she had no problem with Kim sitting on her back and wandering around the property. She actually enjoyed people's company over other horses sometimes. Other horses do need to be reassured that there is no danger to them. As a prey animal, their natural instinct (usually) is to think of something on their back as a predator trying to eat them. But they can be shown with small gentle steps that it's ok. I think the idea of 'breaking' horses like you see in the old cowboy movies is getting to be more and more a thing of the past.
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#14 Old 08-20-2011, 12:01 PM
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I have two horses myself and until about a year and a bit ago, I used to ride them but my riding style changed totally when I became a vegan. Where I used to like the English flatwork, I quit doing it because I realized that for them it was totally boring and repetitive and not stimulating at all, although it did give them excercise. We changed to just wandering on the hillsides and through the woods by our home occasionally and as long as I brought both of them out on a ride together, they seemed to enjoy the stimulus of going for a walk or a gentle trot.

Now I don't ride though, my girls are 21 (never had any foals by the way because I don't believe in breeding horses just because....) and if I get to retire, so do they. We moved them across the country with us about four years ago and just recently built them the nicest barn they've ever lived in. So they're happy, new digs, no work and just eat and poop to their hearts content. What could be better!
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#15 Old 08-20-2011, 02:41 PM
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I don't agree with breeding horses for human needs. However I don't see a problem with animal sanctuaries riding rescue horses, because often the horses do enjoy the exercise. Taking a horse to a river or lake and letting them play in the water - they love it, same as running as long as the rider knows the terrain. I also like animal/riding therapy as long as the animals are treated with respect before, after, and during the therapy.

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Originally Posted by Werewolf Girl View Post

Don't horses have to be broken in order to ride them? If lugging humans around on their backs was natural for them I don't think it would be so hard to convince them to put up with it.

There are humane ways to train horses to be ridden, its seen as forming a partnership with the horse. Some horses quite easily adapt to a saddle, kind of like a dog to a leash.

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#16 Old 08-23-2011, 09:53 PM
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My friend loves horses, and horseback riding, and it's something we've discussed but don't see eye to eye on. I haven't looked into it enough to be 100% sure that I'm dead-set against riding horses who've already been broken in. Some horses, as has been pointed out, seem to genuinely enjoy it. Mind you, many horses associate it with going out on the trails and what not, and so that may be what they're happy about, not the being ridden part. My friend, who's had tons of experience with horses, with breeding and raising them, riding them, having them as companions, etc. is against the way most horses are broken in and often treated, but thinks it's possible to "break in" a horse the proper way. She described it as "asking" the horse to ride it, backing off when the horse doesn't want it, and trying again and again until he or she lets you. She said one horse they had, the process took 3 years.

I'm skeptical. My own worry is that while it may perhaps be possible to do this in a way that is not harmful to the horse, the problem is always going to be that we can't read their minds, and the other thing is that I'm skeptical of most humans' ability to determine whether or not they're crossing the line into expecting too much from an animal.

If an animal welcomed having humans on his or her back, or felt indifferent to it, I wouldn't have a problem with it. But are most people sufficiently sensitive to the needs of animals to be making these judgment calls? That I'm not sure of.

Will definitely watch this thread to hear more of what people think.

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#17 Old 08-25-2011, 06:25 PM
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I'm only against it when the horses are being used for profit, such as at a fair, petting zoo, or those commercial trail rides. If the horse is well taken care of, and is being ridden by their owner for exercise or bonding then I don't see anything wrong with that. It's like taking your dog out on a leash to me.

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#18 Old 08-25-2011, 07:13 PM
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I wholeheartedly disagree with the use of a bit on horses. I think it's cruel. Just imagine the noise inside your head while being forced to gargle a piece of metal.

I am undecided though on a well loved companion animal giving a bareback lift to it's human.

I'm sensitive, & I'd like to stay that way ~JK~
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#19 Old 08-27-2011, 07:26 PM
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My friend loves horses, and horseback riding, and it's something we've discussed but don't see eye to eye on. I haven't looked into it enough to be 100% sure that I'm dead-set against riding horses who've already been broken in. Some horses, as has been pointed out, seem to genuinely enjoy it. Mind you, many horses associate it with going out on the trails and what not, and so that may be what they're happy about, not the being ridden part. My friend, who's had tons of experience with horses, with breeding and raising them, riding them, having them as companions, etc. is against the way most horses are broken in and often treated, but thinks it's possible to "break in" a horse the proper way. She described it as "asking" the horse to ride it, backing off when the horse doesn't want it, and trying again and again until he or she lets you. She said one horse they had, the process took 3 years.

I'm skeptical. My own worry is that while it may perhaps be possible to do this in a way that is not harmful to the horse, the problem is always going to be that we can't read their minds, and the other thing is that I'm skeptical of most humans' ability to determine whether or not they're crossing the line into expecting too much from an animal.

If an animal welcomed having humans on his or her back, or felt indifferent to it, I wouldn't have a problem with it. But are most people sufficiently sensitive to the needs of animals to be making these judgment calls? That I'm not sure of.

Will definitely watch this thread to hear more of what people think.

Horses are very simple to understand once you know what to watch for, and it is the goal of every rider to know that moment to back off from the 'ask'. With practice it is possible to know how to communicate very subtley with a horse. It's actually all body language on both sides.

As for the bit, well I always used bits on my horses because that is what they were used to when they came to us. And I developed very light hands that were gentle on their mouths. There are of course bitless bridles and they look pretty cool. I almost bought one but I quit riding soon after I came across them, so....and by the way, the bit is similar to a person holding a pencil in your teeth, no gargling chunks of metal or noise jangling around in your head.
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#20 Old 08-27-2011, 08:11 PM
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... However I don't see a problem with animal sanctuaries riding rescue horses, because often the horses do enjoy the exercise....

There are humane ways to train horses to be ridden, its seen as forming a partnership with the horse. Some horses quite easily adapt to a saddle, kind of like a dog to a leash.

How can you know any of this? Some human slaves adapt well as agricultural tools without complaint and without the encouragement of a whip.
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#21 Old 08-28-2011, 08:28 PM
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@Dieselsmom

"As for the bit, well I always used bits on my horses because that is what they were used to when they came to us. And I developed very light hands that were gentle on their mouths. There are of course bitless bridles and they look pretty cool. I almost bought one but I quit riding soon after I came across them, so....and by the way, the bit is similar to a person holding a pencil in your teeth, no gargling chunks of metal or noise jangling around in your head."

Perhaps when I spent time with horses in the 80's the bits have changed. I recall solid pieces of metal as well of split pieces of metal that had more "flexibility". I could hear the metal on the teeth standing next to them so I'm sure they had some noise going on inside.

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#22 Old 09-03-2011, 09:48 AM
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@Dieselsmom

"As for the bit, well I always used bits on my horses because that is what they were used to when they came to us. And I developed very light hands that were gentle on their mouths. There are of course bitless bridles and they look pretty cool. I almost bought one but I quit riding soon after I came across them, so....and by the way, the bit is similar to a person holding a pencil in your teeth, no gargling chunks of metal or noise jangling around in your head."

Perhaps when I spent time with horses in the 80's the bits have changed. I recall solid pieces of metal as well of split pieces of metal that had more "flexibility". I could hear the metal on the teeth standing next to them so I'm sure they had some noise going on inside.

It depends on the horse. My bay mare really gripped the bit, no sound, hard mouth and she liked to lean on it. She had to learn to be light just as I had to learn to be light. The other horse played with her snaffle bit (the jointed one) and you could hear that one clonking quite a bit, but it was due to her chomping on it like it was a chew toy. She had to learn to let it lie quietly so that she would notice the soft hands. Also, the bits lie in what is a natural gap between the teeth, so unless you are deliberately abusive rider, the bit shouldn't bang teeth. Of course, I'm not denying that some people can be abusive and there are some horrendous bits that are made like a big screw so that the ridges of it are sharp against the gum and this is to 'encourage' the horse to not grip it even a little.

It all depends I guess on how a person thinks of their horse. I used to know a young girl and her mother, who rode in the Arab circuit, did incredibly well, and their horses (they had several for the brat) were a vehicle to adulation. The kid rode, the mother was the president of the local Arab club. Looking back, I'm reminded of the stereotypical stage mom and child star/brat. In my case, my horses are my girls and when we got them, I became very focused (pre-vegan) on my dietary habits because I was super concerned about not gaining weight because I didn't ever want to hurt them. I've had them now since they were six years old and this year they are 21 and when the time comes, they'll have the best dinner ever with all their favourite goodies and then the long sleep. I was asked once by an aunt why I didn't sell them because I no longer rode, but I could never do that because they'd be on a slaughter truck in no time cause they're old.
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#23 Old 09-04-2011, 10:44 AM
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How can you know any of this? Some human slaves adapt well as agricultural tools without complaint and without the encouragement of a whip.

Because I have been around horses most of my life. Some dogs hate their leash others love it. Do you agree with tying a dog by the throat and teaching him commands? In theory probably not, however there are billions of animals that can be rescued/adopted and we live with these companions. Horses are no exception to this and I was discussing the best way to keep them. Some horses go "stir crazy" being in only a stall and pasture and enjoy being taken for a run or go to a source of water ie lake or river.

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#24 Old 09-05-2011, 12:09 PM
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Because I have been around horses most of my life. Some dogs hate their leash others love it. Do you agree with tying a dog by the throat and teaching him commands? In theory probably not, however there are billions of animals that can be rescued/adopted and we live with these companions. Horses are no exception to this and I was discussing the best way to keep them. Some horses go "stir crazy" being in only a stall and pasture and enjoy being taken for a run or go to a source of water ie lake or river.

So since you get this good vibe from some horses you're willing to force all horses to put up with it? I'm pretty sure if I was locked in a funky box I'd be happy to have someone ride me to a clean water source.
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#25 Old 09-05-2011, 03:15 PM
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Try reading what I say rather than my first sentence and just skimming through the rest. I'll sum it up again for you: No, NOT ALL horses like/need to be ridden however SOME do.

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#26 Old 09-05-2011, 03:21 PM
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Try reading what I say rather than my first sentence and just skimming through the rest. I'll sum it up again for you: No, NOT ALL horses like/need to be ridden however SOME do.

No, I'm aware of your first sentence and I think that's great. I'm just not clear on when or how a human can decide whether or not a horse, even a rescue horse, likes to be ridden.
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#27 Old 09-05-2011, 11:12 PM
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No, I'm aware of your first sentence and I think that's great. I'm just not clear on when or how a human can decide whether or not a horse, even a rescue horse, likes to be ridden.


It's always a case of learning to read body language. For example, if I stand beside her, my bay mare will turn her head into my chest and stand there quietly and wait to be stroked and then have the bridle adjusted so that it is comfortable. When I get up, she's quiet and attentive and tries to please and follow directions. After a couple days off, she was always even more focused on the whole process.

On the other hand, no matter how gentle I am, my grey mare, in the same situation, will pin her ears back, and get this real tight lipped look on her face. She doesn't even like being stroked unless you've got treats in the other hand, and even if she was being ridden daily, it was always necessary to re-establish that she wasn't the boss and I hasten to assure you that this was never accomplished harshly or unfairly. It was done by asking for the required behavior again, and again, and again....until she finally realized that I was going to keep asking until she followed directions.

And again, some horses do enjoy human company very much, and some would prefer to be left alone and they let you know by body language. How the rider responds to their signals is another matter entirely. When I rode regularly, I tried to ride both horses even though the one was not thrilled about the prospect, because we lived on a very small property, about an acre, and the only way they would get any exercise was if they were ridden or 'lunged', otherwise they literally stood around in their little yards and did nothing and lack of excercise isn't good for anyone. Now that we have a few acres, they have pasture to wander around in all summer so exercise (at least in summer) isn't a problem. So I don't ride, but they get fed, have their stalls cleaned daily, get vetted anytime they are sick and have dental work done every year which is more than lots of people get.
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#28 Old 09-05-2011, 11:18 PM
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But for those who ultimately wish to be left alone, is it worth their pain for humans to take the time to figure it out? And what becomes of them after their desires are discovered?

FWIW, I don't feel strongly about the matter, I'm just always curious about the position that is taken on behalf of the horses.
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#29 Old 09-06-2011, 07:12 AM
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But for those who ultimately wish to be left alone, is it worth their pain for humans to take the time to figure it out? And what becomes of them after their desires are discovered?

FWIW, I don't feel strongly about the matter, I'm just always curious about the position that is taken on behalf of the horses.


You're right, the horse back riding thing is problematic if one is a vegan and I can only speak for myself. When I wasn't a vegan I was kind to my girls and now as a vegan I don't actually ride. If both they and I were younger, I don't know what I would do. As for a horses 'pain', that, like anything else depends on the person. Some people are kind and 'light', others, well....but then doesn't that similar situation exist for those who have dogs or cats or any other critter living with people.

At this point, my girls are lucky that they live with me. They have all their needs met and they won't find themselves on a meat truck to Saskatchewan ever, so while they were bought with the intention of being 'used', they got lucky that it was me that purchased them because lots of horses, particularly old horses I think, are discarded and sold off at the auction and a lot of them, like I said, wind up on meat trucks.
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#30 Old 10-17-2011, 01:19 PM
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I'm going to go ahead and jump in here...I currently own two horses and one pony. I grew up the daughter of a ranch-hand and have ridden horses my entire life. I certainly don't claim to know everything but I would be more than happy to answer questions or offer clarification if I can. I don't want to start an argument, but I read on here a lot about educating people so that's what I would like to do if I can. (and with what knowledge I have)

First of all, let me assure you, if a horse doesn't want to do something, they won't. And they have plenty of ways to let you know their likes and dislikes. When you wonder whether or not a horse "likes" something, you have to understand their body language. Horses give you clues in their eyes, ears, and general body position. For example, a horse who is licking its lips is relaxed. That's a good sign. A horse with its ears pinned back is angry and you want to make sure you are nowhere near their back feet because they can kick. Hard.

As far as a bit, well, there are other options such as a hackamore or bosal. I've always used a bit because that's what I'm used to and what my horses are used to. They don't have teeth where the bit goes, so it actually sits behind their back teeth. And, if it's clanking their teeth, it isn't properly fitted. When I go to bridle my horses, they will put their heads down and into the bridle which is nice. There is so much more that goes into bridling than just the bit...you have to build that trust with your horse. They have to be ok with their ears being touched and the bridle going on their head in the first place.

My oldest horse is 25 and has been a member of my family since the day he was born. As a matter of fact, I rode his mother too. My other horse is 18 and has been in the family since he was 5. (he was my daughter's 5th birthday present, so they've grown up together) My pony is 10 and I've owned her since she was a yearling. She doesn't get ridden much, but she is broke to pull a cart. I don't know how to describe the bond between a horse and rider. If you have any animals, you might understand, but it's very hard to describe. I also don't have to ride my horses to appreciate them. (but I enjoy riding them) Sometimes, I just go out and pet them or brush them. There have even been times where they were laying down and let me sit with them. (if a horse lets you near it while it's laying down, you have its trust) Those are the kinds of moments I wouldn't trade for anything.

As far as riding goes, I like to trail ride and I also barrel race. I don't barrel race in rodeos, but I do it locally with the NBHA. I ran my older horse last year, but have since retired him. My plan was to run the other one this year but it didn't work out so I might think about it again next year.

I hope I didn't just buy myself a one-way ticket off the forums, but I said in my introduction that I believe in honesty and that's what I'm presenting to you all now. I also believe in education and that's what I hope I have done just a little bit. I'm sure many of you have horseback riding lumped into the category of what you see on TV with cowboys and bucking horses. I can promise you it isn't all like that. A true horseman wouldn't let it get that far. There are many trainers out there who help people learn to communicate better with their horses and I know they have done a lot to change the way horses are trained. (Pat Parelli, Clinton Anderson, John Lyons, and Buck Brannaman...just to name a few)

If there is anything else I can help with or clarify, I would happy to give it my best shot. Like I said, I didn't post this to start a fight but I was more hoping to give you a little bit of insight into my own personal experiences.

ÂListen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be. ~ Shel Silverstein
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