Can dogs whisper why or why not
What if ... horses were dogs
Imagine a dog is locked in the kennel all day. He is only allowed to play in the garden for one hour a day. He only sees other dogs when he looks at the neighboring kennel. If the dog does not run fast enough as soon as the owner calls, for example because he is sniffing a small wall, the owner pulls the dog over with the leash. He sometimes hits the dog with the whip if he doesn't obey immediately. If the dog does not go for a walk fast enough, he gets a kick and if he is not good enough, he gets a collar with a pulling effect.
And now imagine the dog is a horse.
The horse stays in the box all day. Every now and then it is allowed to go to the paddock. It sees the other horses mainly in the neighboring box. If the horse does not gallop, it will be whipped with the whip during the riding lesson. If the horse does not stay at the cleaning area, people will beat it. And when things don't go fast enough, people use their spurs. If the horse defends itself against the bit with its mouth, then there is a locking strap.
Not that rare, this scenario. Unfortunately.
Beat dogs and kick cats?
What many would find terrible in a dog or a cat is apparently completely normal for many in horses. But why is it like that? Why can a dog above all be fluffy and not first and foremost have to “work” perfectly for its people? Here the stable dog Flame is playing fluffy and sweetly with me. Flame is good and nice and a well-behaved dog - without being beaten with a stick to be good. She was just brought up lovingly and consistently.
Why is a cat allowed to do what it wants and is also loved when it extends its claws.
But when the horse says no to something, too often it is punished for it. Don't get me wrong - I think it's great that the bottom line is that we treat dogs and cats so lovingly and have fewer expectations than, for example, of the horses. It should always be like this. Animals should just be allowed to be themselves, be treated lovingly and kept well. Horses are not dogs and dogs are not cats - every species of animal needs an appropriate language and approach. But I use this comparison to show how unfair some things are.
I sometimes ask myself what would happen if we saw every day in the park that dog owners treat their animals the way they do with horses in many riding stables? Or what if we saw a cat owner kick or otherwise physically punish their cat for maybe a short scratching?
Why does this approach seem so completely okay in so many riding stables? Why, for example, are reins everyday, but a dog collar with a pulling effect is viewed with horror?
Of course, there are certainly people who don't treat all of their animals well. But far too often one can observe a way of dealing with horses, which in the best case can be described as non-species-appropriate, in the worst case as violence. But it is precisely this approach that is often not seen as violence in the horse world.
You “just get through”. Otherwise the horse would do what he wants. such and other sentences then come. Sometimes people are not at all brutal or physical in their demands - but the expectations of horses are often just incredibly high. Even with small things like giving the hoof, for example. Which is absolutely a matter of trust for a horse - after all, its security is a bit in the hands of humans when it is to stand on three legs. Or when a horse moves in. Or with school horses. Who often have to run four or five times a day and do not have their own person by their side, the saddle may not fit and and and (There is an exciting article about this HERE)
An example: How often do I hear from people who have bought a horse and then wonder why after three days on the new farm it doesn't immediately run enthusiastically into the area. It's a seasoned riding horse. You have also tried it out. So now imagine we're talking about a dog or a cat. Nobody would expect the cat to have its stomach petted immediately or the dog to walk along on its feet for hours. The horse should be ridden immediately and do everything well.
The fact that the horse must first arrive and trust people is often not really considered. Not necessarily out of bad will, but strangely enough, the idea of function is often greater in horses. Or so it seems to me.
HERE you can find an article about the first few days with your own horse
Another example: I've already seen people who beat their loading horse into the trailer with a whip and then lovingly stroke their dog over the head. But who would claim that they love their horse as much as they love their dog. I do not understand that. How can I love a creature and then ignore its fear and displeasure and impose my will on it?
Of course, horses communicate differently than dogs and I sometimes have to show a horse that I have a plan and know that what I want from him has a reason and is good for the animal in the end. But I can do that with patience and empathy.
Of course, one must not forget that horses have hooves and teeth and that they are not necessarily squeamish with one another in the herd. But in the herd they always have the opportunity to walk and evade the conflict and physical communication between horses is always visible and fair. It works largely at eye level among the horses.
With all of our aids that we can theoretically use, we no longer speak of “eye level”. We humans have enough leverage to make the horse docile when we want to. But that is neither particularly fair nor particularly animal-friendly.
Because everything is not okay
Only recently did I walk through a very well-kept stable lane in a very well-kept stable. The riding arena and the riding arena were huge. The paddocks were small marked out squares and the boxes tiny. The horses are in the box during the day - without a paddock. One woven, one coupled. A few just stood there, one immediately sought proximity.
I would say he was pretty bored. The rider who was training in the hall had the reins so tight that you could have stretched a bow on them and the horse had little to say about it because it wore a strap. The few horses in the paddock were all wearing rain rugs and gaiters. That made me sad. Because I would bet that almost everyone in this stable thinks the way it goes is completely fine and might even claim that the horse is doing really well.
I would say that a rain blanket and gaiters do not belong on a grazing horse unless it is really old or sick and is wearing this blanket for medical reasons. I would also say that horses do not belong in the box all day, but should spend time with their conspecifics in the herd and when riding I would find it nice if there is no real pull on the horse's mouth - because that has nothing to do with it To do so - that is simply constant pain for the ridden horse.
HERE horse mirror.de has written an article about why the end does not justify the means
Of horses of the heart and ponies of the soul
When I look around the social media media and look at the many pictures of horses that are titled as “heart horses” and “soul ponies” but have mouths tied with locking straps, then I wonder about the people who have such pictures with such sentences publish. There are nice girls in the photos who seem to love their horse. Those who hang on the neck of their animal with hearts in their eyes, but loop reins and draw reins around the bridle, ride with a Mexican noseband or strap or ride lessons with visible biceps or feed treats with a thousand flavors. And I'm not even particularly clichéd - unfortunately that's often enough.
I know horse owners who prefer to put their horse in the box for the whole day without grazing than to take another trip. I keep hearing from riding instructors who call out to their students that they finally “have to assert themselves”. Dominance theory still haunts so many texts and courses.
Would the same people do the same to their dog? Hit him if he doesn't obey, buy a leverage collar and pull on the leash if he doesn't come, or kick him if he doesn't sit down?
What if ... horses were dogs
I often think: What if horses were dogs? If they were smaller and fluffier. If they had noises in pain and didn't suffer so quietly. How would we then deal with horses? For example, how would the same people who whip their horses with spurs and ride with belts, who put their horse in the box all day and slap it on the nose with a clap when the horse in for a treat the bag is looking for - how would these people react if they saw the same behavior in a dog owner and their howling dog?
- Boxing is not appropriate to the species
- The whip is an aid for fine and delicate aids, not a whip
- The reins hang on a bit and nobody should pull that - because that hurts the horse's mouth
- The locking strap or the girder cause the horse stress to pain - depending on how they are strapped in, to a greater or lesser extent
The locking strap is just one example of equipment and behaviors that are absolutely commonplace and should actually be banned from horse stables.
HERE you can find an article on the topic of “locking straps” and why they don't belong on the horse
The side reins and draw reins are other examples for me. Or spurs and curbs, which have no place on most rider's feet and rider's hands, from my point of view, because most rider's feet and rider's hands are simply not calm enough for this equipment. There are riders like Anja Beran and others who can handle it so delicately and delicately that even finer aids are possible. But only very few are. I couldn't ride it that well either, so I'll just leave it.
Is the box stance okay?
Or the almost pure box-keeping, which is absolutely normal in so many stables. I feel incredibly sorry for the horses that stand in the box all day except for a few hours. Who would lock a Dachshund in a broom closet all day? This is cruelty to animals! ... most people would call out. The relation of the dachshund to the broom closet is basically the same as to the horse in the standard box.
Many horses usually have little contact with their own species and only get food thrown into the box a few times a day. This is the best way to tackle gastric ulcer. The owner may drop by several times a week - otherwise horses are often moved in the horse walker. From a horse's point of view, this is a terribly stupid and senseless process.
Then it goes back to the box. We don't even want to talk about feeding. Because horses need food at least every four hours due to their special stomach anatomy. Not to mention the content in industrial horse feed. When I read through the list of ingredients for various standard mueslis in the shops, I feel completely different.
Where does violence start?
These are just a few examples. There are also so many small and even smaller examples from everyday life. The little moments when the person screams at the horse in anger or claps the rear end of the work rope with pressure or the horse rushes in a circle in the round pen with a lot of energy in voice and body or jerks the lead rope with significant force when the horse does not run right away or tugging at the head because the horse does not want to take the bit in its mouth or continues to brush vigorously with the brush even if the horse shows that it does not like it because horses "have to endure it" At least that's what it always says.
An example: A former school horse didn't really like brushing the neck. Now you could say that it doesn't really matter whether your throat is dirty or not. Since I had left out the neck while cleaning, I was nagged about why the horse was dirty on the neck. Then I described how the horse reacts when I want to clean its neck. With a sullen expression and a neck moving away from the brush.
The riding instructor took the brush from my hand and brushed the horse's neck extra coarse until it stopped moving. I thought it was terrible. The riding instructor thought that it should be like that - because the horses have to be able to endure it. So he said. You have to make what they do not want to be made explicit so that they would give in and not get any bad habits.
Now you could say that this is definitely the one big exception.
- But I have also seen a riding instructor who kicked horses in the stomach during school lessons that weren't running fast enough for him.
- I have seen riding instructors who constantly called for the use of whips.
- Or riding instructors who ask you to ride with a real pull on your bit in order to assert yourself.
And I could go on with this list. But I am only one person and I really can't have gotten to the only bad riding instructors in all of Germany, can I? This - seemingly commonplace - is preached everywhere and thus continued. That is sad and terrible at the same time, because wherever this or similar is taught, behavior is more widespread that can basically be described from gross to some form of cruelty to animals. That needs to change.
What would you do if your horse were a dog or a cat
Therefore I ask myself the question and the request to all who read this article: What would we do if horses were dogs or cats?
What matters to me is that there are so many things, both large and small, that are commonplace in the horse world - regardless of whether it is about different training methods, equipment or everyday handling of horses - that we should urgently question.
Even if you don't hit your horse, it is cruel to animals if it has to stand in the box all day and can run for a maximum of 3-4 hours. Or if you feed it incorrectly and it develops a stomach ulcer because two servings of food a day just don't fit the horse's digestive tract. Or if you use equipment to control the horses or use pressure until escalation as a training method. But beyond that there is the small and large forms of physical and emotional violence that take place as a matter of course in many stables that simply have to finally come to an end.
We want respect and courtesy from our horses. We want security, trust and motivation, cooperation and a partnership - then we should offer all of this to our horses too. In addition to good husbandry and species-appropriate feeding.
HERE in an article I wrote down thoughts on the subject of “rules” with horses
Pressure instead of violence or violence instead of pressure
No matter how pretty we call the whole thing. If we hit the horse with the whip until the whip snaps, there is no pressure - it is violence. If we pull the reins until the tongue hangs out of our mouth, that is not a correction - it is violence. If we put horses in a box all day long as running and herd animals (which they are after all) that is not an attitude - it is cruelty to animals.
I wonder why pressure so often becomes violence in connection with horses - but it is still called pressure. And why this hidden form of violence is apparently just as acceptable for these horse owners as animal husbandry?
I wonder why the way horses are treated is apparently okay. Why something that in some cases would have to be called cruelty to animals is tolerated as dominance training and why we push the limits of what is permitted with horses so much further than with dogs or cats.
So often I ask myself whether a person would treat his horse the same way if the horse were a dog. If the horse could howl and wasn't that big. How big the outcry would be if dog owners beat their dogs in the park because they don't obey quickly or don't respond so perfectly to their master's voice signal.
Why horses are not allowed to say no
- Where does this fear come from that the horse will instantly become a monster if it does not always obey to the point?
- Where did the idea come from that it would be really dangerous if we let the horse have a say?
- Where does this idea come from that horses constantly test us humans and that you train yourself to be a thoroughbred if you don't bring the horse to dominant reasoning at an early stage?
- Why do people find it acceptable that they hit, kick, disregard, ignore and hit their horse?
That makes me on the one hand stunned and on the other hand perplexed. Because we're not talking about mean or malicious people. Often these are even very nice people who claim that they love their horse and want a partnership. But who find their actions perfectly in order.
But how can I expose a living being I love to such treatment. Even if it is only part of the whole range that I have listed in the article. A little bit of that is enough. How can I expect my counterpart to become or want to be a partner if I treat them so unfairly as a person?
How can I hope for trust and bond and security if I want to work out all of this exclusively through control and how can I wish for communication with my horse if I forbid him to shut up at every little thing? But why does such behavior seem okay with horses?
- Because they are bigger?
- Because they are heavier?
- Because we are afraid of our horses and their strength?
- Because we're scared of being honest with ourselves after years of wrongdoing?
- Because we have learned this way and should be frightened when we look in the mirror?
- Because we no longer want to question ourselves?
- Because it's so easy and convenient to take control of violence?
- Because we prefer to close our eyes instead of looking ourselves in the eyes and changing something about ourselves and our training?
- Because maybe we are also afraid of the horses' answers if we really asked them if they want to be with us?
Of course, we also have to include the psychology of horses in our way of training. A horse wants to be trained differently than a dog or a cat. It takes frame lines, boundaries and clarity to feel safe. I think so. It also knows pressure as a means of communication because it also communicates this way in its herd. But there is still a difference between pressure and violence. One is energy, focus, and body language - the other is pain and oppression.
No matter what is taught:We have a brain to think and a heart to feel. We can question and discuss and we can show ourselves empathetically and think about the best way to get to the animal that is facing us. No matter if it is a horse or a dog or a cat.
There will be thousands of reasons why each individual acts as he does. Sometimes you don't know any better and we all make mistakes. Me too. That's not what it is about. That's fine. it's only human. we are all not perfect. I would only wish that we would start breaking new ground, questioning ourselves every now and then, and rather deal honestly with the mistakes we made and ourselves than close our eyes and keep continuing the mistake. I would like us to finally change something fundamentally about how far too many horses are still dealt with far too often.
It's not about me being perfect. Neither of us is. I have to touch my own nose. When 500 or 600 kilos of horse are in front of you, you sometimes give signals that are too loud. We all make mistakes and we are all sure to be unfair at times. We have to admit that. We're not machines. Mistakes are human.
It is important that we think about our actions, that more empathy and compassion enter the horse world and that we do not repeatedly cause pain to our horses - just because we can and because it is taught that way. That we question ourselves and our actions again and again and not just accept and imitate what riding instructors and trainers tell us. We should ask ourselves much more often whether we would like to be our horse.
And maybe it would also help one or the other if he kept wondering what he would do if there was not a horse but a dog or a cat in front of him.
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