I was reading one of the two books I bought on horses, comfortably sitting in my Civic with a Timmie’s the other day (Yeah I know how that sounds, don’t ask) and I got that flash. As I am right now fulfilling my passion for horses, I am getting those lessons, levels, educating myself with books along the way. I had to do it to know my horses as well as I know my dogs, a all new field.
I think I have mentioned that a friend of mine as brought back this passion by telling me to try a job as groom/hot walker in a race track she works in that will not name. Even though I am not an expert in horses, I have seen a lot but mostly ranch life horses and jumpers. So, as was reading the second book, and getting in the behavior chapter, it all got clear to me. While I was at this race track, for only a day (Job conditions didn’t fit what I needed…), I noticed a lot of frustrated horses. Horses that wouldn’t listen to “professional trainers” while they were sitting on their backs to “train them” a.k.a have a couple track runs. They would tell you to step way aside when they passed with a horse… I wondered why until I saw those frustrated horses. Now I know why.
As the book is pointing, horses are sensitive animals. They will react to their environment, and if they lack something they will develop vices or behavior problems. It says that to a horse to be balanced and stress-free, they need to be, of course, socialized and we need to present them certain situations so they can be confident. Also, like dogs, to have excellent results and a better “relationship” with him, the training has to be free of all frustration, angriness, violence. The key is calm and assertiveness. But also a horse, needs to be….. A HORSE.
Horses that I have encounter at the track are horses that are brought there in spring, put in a stall, and brought back by their owners for the winter. They are taken out once per day for maybe 30 minutes to run around a race track with strangers, and then come back in the stables. A little walk to cool off around the stable and back in the stall they go. That’s it. For half the year.
Horses are pack animals (called “bands”), they need to socialized with their kind but they also don’t enjoy much to be confined. They will enjoy the security and comfiness of their stalls but to be in an open area such as fields do make them feel better as they can flee if needed (Horses are preys and domestic horses have kept this feeling). And of course, tell me which living being likes to be confined? To do nothing, see no one (the stalls are made so they don’t see each other well), and not being able to enjoy the summer breeze in the mane and a good green grass? No one. So behavior problems, frustration and vices happens.
Of course I have saw some that are very gentle and are the “happy-go-lucky” kind, like the ones that I have cleaned the stall and walked. But I saw aggressive horses, well, maybe it’s too strong of a word, I would say “very low tolerance and I hate you” horses. Nervous horses, horses that will not listen and seem like they want to flee, horses that are hit (not an “order hit”, a “correction hit” with a crop). Yes, they are well groomed, and one even as his daily oxygen treatment (Owner’s demand). But these horses are not allowed to be horses. They are literally only bred to satisfy one’s need to gamble to then be imprisoned.
Want to know something else? Apparently there’s a “thing” that these owners do to have the perfect racing horse, but I couldn’t find any proper article or claims on it: Surgical procedures on the legs when they are only small foals. I won’t start on this but you can search on it and read what I have found here.
I needed to denounce this. We are talking a lot about dog racing and the poor conditions the Greyhounds are in, but we should also work on the horse’s conditions in race tracks…. and let’s not forget the caleche horses….