Friday, February 14, 2014

14th February, 2014 Honesty is the Best Policy

Ever since I started as a Recommended Associate nine years and over 1,000 horses ago, I have always written a comprehensive report about each horse, accompanied by more general notes about the techniques we have used. This starts with recounting the history of the horse as far as it is known before an in depth assessment of the environment in which the horse is kept and any physical checks that the horse has undergone. I will point out any inherent problems which may be caused, for example, by the horse being kept alone or being given limited turnout. I always advocate routine back, tack and teeth checks as well as considering possible deeper, hidden issues such as gastric ulcers or kissing spine. An unnatural or limiting environment or physical discomfort can certainly be a major factor in behaviour which presents a problem; the horse can only express its feelings through the use of its body.

It is rare for me to meet a horse that's behaviour is so dangerous in the cold light of day that one of the options is to put the horse to sleep. Where a horse is prepared to attack people then I couldn't criticise an owner that chose that option knowing that the road to recovery was very uncertain and could be littered with expensive vet bills and the cost of buying in behavioural help where they are unable to do the work themselves through lack of experience or fear. Where a horse explodes with very little notice and becomes extremely dangerous then there is a very high risk of people being injured. I cannot shy away from recording this in my assessment. Being an RA is a serious business and I take my horse reports very seriously.

In another case I was asked to help to create a bond between the client's daughter and her pony. When I arrived the pony which she had not helped to choose was dragging her around the yard and bashing her into the fencing. Luckily this charming behaviour was easily addressed but I could well understand that a child might struggle to like a pony that regularly assaulted her especially as he was also difficult to ride. I said this in my report at the same time as offering solutions to the pony's behaviour - one session had made a really good start on this but persuading this young lady that he pony is love-able could be very hard work!