Friday, June 27, 2008

If that is a levade, I am Angelina Jolie

I know I say this daily but...WTF? Professor? What, you have a Ph.D. in bad horsemanship? Who gives that out, Merideth Manor?

Really, sometimes I think the horse world is populated by little girls who never grew up. Eternally 7 years old, their web sites are full of unicorns, rainbows, glitter and poneeeez with long pretty manes!

(And really funky wrapping jobs. Huh? What were you trying to do there? Bandage bow a tendon? I think you're gonna succeed at that one!)

The best part of her whole ridiculous site is her advice about how to choose a riding academy, in which she puts forth pearls of wisdom like "You should ride the same horse each time." Yeah, if you NEVER want to improve and learn how to deal with different equine personalities. If that's the plan, then yeah. Great idea. And " I, personally, wouldn't take lessons from a school that was was less than 5 years old." Considering how trainers hop around, isn't it more important to look at the trainer's experience and track record than how long the farm has been around?

I learned to ride at a place called Joy Farm in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that had been around since 1914 - and it was unsafe as all hell. All the lesson horses were ex-polo ponies or horses given to the school for free because they were rank sons-of-bitches. They kept the dust down in the indoor by dumping used motor oil in there. They ran every lesson the same way - 10 walk, 10 trot, 5 walk, 5 canter, reverse, 5 canter, 5 walk, 10 trot, 10 walk. So the horses knew exactly what to expect and just for extra added fun, the instructors called out the gaits, i.e. "Canter, HOOOOOOOOO!" So after 5 minutes of jigging, they ALL bolted and/or ran into the middle of the arena to crash into the beginner horses who were standing there waiting out the canter. It was awesome. All the instructors were 15 years old. Hell, I was an instructor there when I was 15 years old, LOL! They thought it was okay to deworm horses every six months and then only with that crappy alfalfa pellet feed through wormer. Lame horses went out routinely. I have home movies where I am showing a horse who had heaves so badly she was hacking away with every trot stride and pulling me halfway down her neck. (Hey, I was 10, I didn't know any better and apparently neither did any of the adults in the vicinity). It was 9,000 kinds of unsafe but DAMN it had been in business for a hell of a long time! What does that prove?

Seriously, parents, you need to get some pro advice from friends who ride before you pick a riding academy. Please don't do it the way my mom did - by calling everybody in the yellow pages to see who was the cheapest!

Today's Friday Featured Rescue:

This little guy is a yearling Thoroughbred colt with a mild roach back. He isn't Miss Camel, but he's not going to race. He's got a very sweet disposition and should be fine for pleasure use with some care and attention paid to saddle fit. He is free to a good home and located in the Seattle area. E-mail me if you'd like to meet him and check him out. The farm has several other free Thoroughbreds including broke three year olds.