and Long Lining
Like A Horse
March 21, 2009
Buck or Kick?
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What a wonderful web site and resource center. Your love for equine education is graciously depicted.
I guess I am seeking reassurance about departing my daughters current lesson barn. The program was based on natural horsemanship and the structure and knowledge base and of the owner instructor/ owner had always overridden any weaknesses in the past.
I am a mother of a 12 yr old. Her riding instructor (owner of the lesson horse) became extremely upset with me when I described erratic behavior in my daughter's horses as "kicking at her." The instructor/owner was not initially present to observe. The horse was tied at a rail for groom and tack. My daughter was on the right side of the horse. I looked up and saw horse's head jerking back and forth and then back hooves off of the ground in my daughter's direction. No one was hurt; but the horse's behavior concerned me. My daughter described it as a buck. She has ridden for 2 1/2 years. My daughter also said she thought the stationary rope on the rail she was required to use was too short.
Would I have been making an statement as a novice that would have been that inflammatory to the instructor? She kind of went off on me and kept asking me over and over again if it was a kick. I felt I was being bullied into changing my answer, but I saw what I saw and I stuck to20my description only to really irritate her. Is there really that much of a difference when a child's safety is an issue?
Today there are so many wonderful horsemen out there providing lessons that there is no sense feeling like once you have chosen one you are "married" or are a "disciple" or "bound" by any strings, business, legal, personal or otherwise. I put those words in quotes not because of anything in your letter but because I have observed these things with other people in their relationships with trainers. And I am hoping my answer will help those people as well as you.
I am so thrilled that there has been a surge of horse activities in many areas which makes the choice of instructors and trainers so much better for people wanting lessons or training. Of course with the surge came good trainers and not-so-good trainers, but generally the good trainers prevail. I hope it is that way in your area - that you have good choices - because once you feel the way your letter depicts, it sounds like a rift, a loss of respect and confidence and it could be time to say good bye and go shopping for a new lesson barn.
Now specifically to your letter. YES ! A child's safety is uppermost in any situation involving horses. Semantics of whether a horse is bucking, kicking, cow kicking or grouching in some other way is immaterial. The fact that hooves toward child is unsafe no matter what you call it. And you as guardian of your daughter have every right to bring the matter to the attention of the instructor/owner of the horse.
Horse people can get (unjustifiably) very defensive of their horses - we call this "barn blind" - "What? MY horse kicked? No way." - That sort of thing. Perhaps that is what you experienced. Well, take comfort in that it is very common for people to think their horses, dogs, pets can do no wrong.........but that doesn't make their perception or reaction correct or right - and it would be especially ludicrous since the owner wasn't present when the behavior occurred - that indeed is a blind sort of defensiveness.
Of course, the best thing would have been to have an experienced unbiased eye witness, but since that didn't happen, it becomes one person's opinion against another's. And since you are the novice, it is not hard to see a bit of bullying to get you to change your testimony.
I can't say what the horse was doing and why and if he was tied too short or any of that, but if you feel your child's safety is at risk and you have lost faith in the owner or the establishment, then by all means, look for a new barn. But with summer coming and knowing what it is like to be a 12 year old girl who loves horses and has had several years of riding, I do hope you are able to find a new place soon !
Best of luck and thanks
for your note.
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