Sunday, March 16, 2008

16th March, 2008 Nappiness, nappiness

A couple of years ago I helped on Kelly's horse psychology course where we were discussing what to do with a horse that is nappy. I turned to see a Dutch student rifling through his English dictionary, he looked at me quizically, "Diaper?" he said.

On a local website, the standard answer to a nappy horse seems to be hit it - you need to show it who's boss or it's only taking the p____. The great thing about IH is that it's taught me to look at things from the horses point of view, and it seems to me that most horses will only do what they feel they need to do in a given set of circumstances in order to avoid pain, over exertion (both mental and physical) or fear. So the horse that won't go forward or rushes home, may be reacting to a poorly fitting saddle, a bad back, poor riding, fear of the unknown or loneliness. It always amazes me that horses will go anywhere with us with so little incentive and their willingness to co-operate is inspiring. I see plenty of nappy humans too, manipulating their way out of work or avoiding things that take them out of their comfort zone and many speed across the Forest on their way home. I have become nappy about working horses at the yard partly because I ache at the end of every day!

This all begs the question of why do horses co-operate with us. If there was any justice in the world, horses that are beaten or kept in 23 hours a day wouldn't win at Olympia. Just like us, they can be coerced into work and because they can't shout other than through body language, and sometimes just keep quiet anyway, they can be easily abused. As someone said on the IHDG, if the dogs at Crufts had been hit in public to get them to perform, there would have been an outcry and yet horses are hit excessively at equestrian events all round this country and very little is done about it. I was brought up believing that it was okay to hit horses and I wish I had never done it. I will live with the guilt forever.