Training 1

I am starting my series on training, with a section where I admit that my animal, Obama, needs retraining after what I have just done. This may seem odd, but since the alternative, creating a seamless narrative, where the training program starts with an untrainied, or problem animal, and finishes with a perfect performer, requires skipping huge quantities of facts. Instead, I am going to write about training as I did it, but wrtiting after 20 months of working with Obama, and nearly 10 years working with training animals for Saddlechariots.
And as I write, I am contemplatng tomorrow’s session, and what I learned yesterday. I know there is an answer, more to the point, I know there are lots of answers, and one thing I know for absolute certain. Whips work. Bits work. Spurs work. Violence works. If you have any doubt, look at the world as it is. We are still sending our young men out to kill the young men from other countries which disagree with us. Sorry I will rephrase that, we are sending our young men to fight the young men of another country, becasue the old men in our country disagree with nthe old men in their country.
And if we apply enough force, enough violence, we will change their minds, maybe by blasting a lump of lead through their minds with the aid of an SA80, but after the SA 80 bullet has gone through, their mind has changed. QED  Or maybe they will change the minds of our old men by shredding so many of our young men, that the postion of our old men becomes uncomfortable. I only know that violence will make a difference.
Violence changes things, force works. I cannot find big enough capitals to make it clear

I KNOW WHIPS WORK.
I just think their use is sick, not ineffective, not pointless, sick.
And since everyone in the equestrian establishent feels  their status, their way of life, and their right to beat subservient beings is threatened by me, I will carry on saying, I can do it without whips, without bits, without spurs, WHY CAN’T YOU?

So back a  few days to a piece I wrote  as I started the process of retraining Obama. I will leapfrog back and forwards in time, back to journeys I have done, people I have talked to, pieces I wrote while learning that you can enjoy horses and ponies without whips, mostly because it is totally clear to anyone with a brain, that horses and ponies can enjoy people so much more when those people are without whips.

Retraining a pony isn’t easy. For a start how far back do you go. When you know the animal as well as I know Obama going back is nearly impossible. It’s not so bad with the Bannedwaggon, which is pretty new to both of us, and i can settle down and look at Obama’s responses.

The first time I took him out in the Bannedwaggon, (after the Exeter to London trip) there was serious tension. But I had left off one part which stops it flipping up when empty, and Obama was unimpressed when it showed signs of flipping. And yes, all you British Driving Society types out there, things do go wrong when I am driving the Bannedwaggon prototype. This is known as product testing. Obama and I do the stupid things, so you and your animal don’t have to.

By the second day, he was settling down a bit, third day he was eating the verge while in the Bannedwaggon, and the fourth day, he was bored again. But I am still scared, and the current Bannedwaggon has been anglegrinded rather viciously and has strange, and lethally sharp bits of metal sticking out in odd places, so it is difficult to assess which of Obama’s problems are caused by the last few minutes of the London trip, and which are caused by my obvious fear.

So today I went for a blat in the Mark 10 Saddlechariot. Obama drives sweet as a nut until we get to the hill leading to Shillingford and digs his toes in. He will go up very slowly if I lead him, and slower still if I try and drive him. If I climb on the Saddlechariot he goes into park mode. He seems slightly scared, and there is a very distinct smell, a rather weird smell of horse all around, which I can’t explain, but equally can’t prove wasn’t Obama farting consistently.

After 20 minutes for a five minute hill we got to the bridleway at the top which we took at a reasonable speed and then he decided we were back moving again. I still don’t know if he just objected to the gradient, which isn’t dramatic, he has done a lot steeper. But the best bit was going back down the hill to Ide. After cresting the ridge, while stopped to chat to a couple of dogwalkers, three riders came up the hill towards us. I pulled over as you do, and then had a fascinating few minutes watching as all three tried to ride past Obama and I.

Thrashing away with their whips, kicking like mad and jerking their horses heads around with the bit, they were getting nowhere fast. I rather unsportingly asked them to keep the whip use down if they managed to get anywhere near us, since Obama is terrified of whips. One tried getting off and flailing away with a whip and jerking the horses head round with the same lack of success she had had, while sitting on top and they then admitted defeat, and rode back down the hill and through Ide to go up the hill that Obama and I had come up.

Obama, who I consider needs retraining from scratch, stood like a rock through this performance, on a loose rein, occasionally nuzzling me to see if everything was all right. When they turned back, Obama was raring to go and play with them, but I thought they would never keep their animals under control, so we drove maintaining a 100 yard gap the whole way. No bit, no whip, no blinkers, no violence, no problem. The BHS types couldn’t cope with the simplest problem, and I am the one who thinks he has to retrain his animal.



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One Response to Training 1

  1. florayG says:

    People have expectations. Last weekend I was out riding and my horse was wary of going past a bank that was being netted to ferret for rabbits – I suspect she could hear the commotion underground. Gradually she got nearer and sniffed one of the nets. I commented that it would be quite funny if a rabbit bolted out at that point and the hunter panicked, came in between my horse and the hole and stood like a father protecting his child from seeing pornography. He thought I would fall off if a rabbit bolted out as my horse was wearing nothing but a halter. My point is, I knew PERFECTLY WELL that I would fall off if a rabbit bolted out and my horse shied violently , but I don’t care. If I fall off, I get back on again, and my horse then has learned not to do that, please, because it causes me to fall off and I’m not supposed to do that. She knows her job.
    Keep up the good work, Simon.

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