Saturday, March 13, 2010

Fugly Shit of the Day: Part II

I just recently quickly perused the comment section of Cathy's post I blogged about the other day concerning Linda Parelli - most was just repetitive BS and whining, and no, I did not read all 550+ comments (I do not wish to garbage quite that much time), however I did pay particular attention to Cathy's comments. See, I was never aware of Cathy's existence until maybe a year ago or so when one of her little sheep snarked at me on a forum and quoted Cathy - if Cathy said it, it must be right!! Since then, I admit I have not really devoted a whole lot of time 'researching' Cathy or her past, so I wanted to read her some of her recent comments to gauge what she really knows about horses. The following are my recent findings and a follow-up of Fugly Shit of the Day. I just think people should realize how little she actually knows in terms of horses so they may make an informed decision. Here are a few of Cathy's comments:

(the first part of the following is Fugly quoting a previous poster)
fugly says: March 10, 2010 at 8:33 pm
"“My gelding spent the first 6 months or so I had him spooking into me and he knocked me over 3 times. The third time (last June) I finally got my nerve up and convinced him I was going to kill him (which consisted of backing him up and screaming at him). You know what? He has spooked in place or away from me since that day.”
Amazing how that works, isn’t it? Someone realized YOU were more scary than the silly thing he was spooking at.
Congratulations. You understand horses better than Linda Parelli, already!"

Honestly? Our solution to a fearful horse spooking is to make it more scared of you and your reaction to its fear, than of the object it is afraid of? To quote John Lyons:
"It's unreasonable to ask a horse not to be afraid. That's like my telling you to go into a bad area of town for a walk at two in the morning, and not be frightened."
So if it is unreasonable to ask a horse to not be afraid, by extension, is it not unreasonable to reprimand a horse for being afraid? Why would you want a relationship in which your horse is afraid of being afraid, because it is afraid of your reaction? A horse cannot help being afraid and some horses are more prone to being alert and reactive than others - some require stronger leadership and stronger trust in their rider to follow said leadership without spooking. The solution is simple: gain your horse's trust (not just in you, but in your leadership), guarantee to your horse that you have it's back, and it will follow you wherever you ask. Do you honestly want a horse who is tense and anxious because it is afraid of you? Excuse me while I vomit. I have seen and ridden those horses, and they are an emotional mess because they're constantly trying to read and anticipate you, because they are afraid of your reaction and of doing something wrong. Horses are not spooking at 'silly things' for the fun of it, they are acting like prey animals. They have very different worries than us and they have very different perceptions, thinking, and even vision, than us. Our job is to teach them to think and to follow our leadership, to act less reactive and more relaxed. Not to scare them into submissiveness.

Cathy, for someone who purports to know so much about horse training and horse behaviour, I am ashamed for you and am dismayed at your lack of actual knowledge. I suppose I should not be overly surprised, when your 'training' looks like this though:

That was no 'surprise jump', any idiot could see that was minutes away from happening, simply by watching the first 5 seconds of the video where the horse was observed to be frantic, anxious, and tense. She was looking for an escape route, and found it. Want to know why Pat and other NH trainers have such low-fenced roundpens? So they remember to never push a horse past its threshold, to encourage themselves to create draw and relaxation in the horse. This was not a wild horse, Cathy, this is a poor QH filly that was pushed too far.

I see Cathy removed the video of her unable to effectively get even a green filly trotting under-saddle. It's not for no reason that she is unable to train the supposedly very quiet VLC stallion of hers. I just wish she would then admit her limitations (because that's ok! we all have them!!) and quit criticizing everyone else and methods she obviously does not understand nor know anything about. Cathy, if you do not know enough about training to train your own docile animals, please refrain from 'educating' the public in regards to how to train. That's all - I'm not asking for much!!!!

Here are some more goodies (*sigh*):
fugly says: March 10, 2010 at 8:31 pm
"I have sung on young OTTB’s to distract them from spooky stuff, particularly during the first rides out in the open. But an Appy is just going to laugh at you and walk your knee into the nearest tree.
And I am a huge devotee of the old fashioned butt rope for recalcitrant trailer-loaders. I’ll be damned if I’m going to screw around for 45 minutes when all it takes is 2 people and a butt rope and the horse is in the trailer in 30 seconds flat."

I just for once want to see Cathy do that to my Thoroughbred Link. When we first purchased him he wasn't the greatest loader and had you just put a butt rope on him and tried to shove him in (btdt - the barn owner bullied his way into doing so), he would have balked HUGE. He not only panicked and flew backwards, fighting, but he also double-barrel kicked at any people behind him. Now, of course, he loads fine, but the point is not to simply shove the horse in in 30s and slam the door shut! The point is for the horse to be comfortable enough with your leadership and have sufficient respect in you to do as you ask, and for the horse to be relaxed in the trailer and want to go in there. Otherwise you get the horse in there by force and have to deal with something throwing a wreck in there. I realise there are exceptions where you just have to get the horse in or there seem to be no other options in very rare cases - but those cases are not hugely common; most of the time you can work with a horse beforehand until they are comfortable loading. However with a horse who is usually ok with loading and whom I have worked with before (though obviously not enough, if he is balking at the trailer), I am going to take that 45min instead of 30s. 1,200lbs is a lot of weight and is not always physically possible to shove in in 30s anyways, not without risk to the horse. Why is Cathy's answer always force and fear?? I am asking honestly.

fugly says: March 9, 2010 at 6:39 pm
"Then the first thing I would have picked up is a longe whip…before I took the lead.
I’ve dealt with chargers. They are not hard to fix. Once or twice, bam, and they realize that on top of you is not a good place to be. You have to watch them like a hawk, because some will wait for a moment of inattention and then take another dive at you. But all in all, I could have fixed this with one or two good whacks with a whip – at the CHEST as he dove at me – NEVER at the face – and the horse would not have been confused, and it would have been over a lot faster.
This is a good example of “picking at” a horse. Instead of making a simple point, once, and making it clear what behavior was not acceptable, it’s a thousand annoying little pinpricks to the horse."

Honestly, I actually was thinking a carrot stick (or similar) would have perhaps helped Linda communicate better with the horse in question as well. However, what she did worked, and I cannot say for certain that a stick would have been more effective anyway. This horse was not a 'charger' per se, he was not doing what he did out of aggressiveness, he was simply bowling over humans in disregard, because he had other concerns on his mind and had very little respect for his handlers. I think what Linda did was much better than hitting the horse in punishment, because judging from the state the horse was in as Linda worked with it, it would have had to have been some pretty hard hits!! What Linda did took a little longer, however it was effective in earning the horse's respect and it was a long-term solution by engaging the horse's mind (she'd never have to hit the horse, as Cathy advises, or work so hard again). I actually did not see Linda hit the horse directly in zone 1 (the nose area), which is a very sensitive area - had she hit the horse there, it probably would have caused an adverse reaction. Instead, she smacked the horse loudly on the sturdy jaw and on the neck (most people I see pat their horses as hard, or harder, than Linda did! In praise!), to get its attention. You don't see the horse panic, jerk its head suddenly, or act fearful towards Linda or headshy afterwards. So obviously she did not traumatize the animal. In addition, she was not 'picking at', or 'nagging', the horse, she was correcting him whenever he made a wrong move (which, at first, was often). You certainly never see an annoyed horse, and you see a very responsive and respectful horse at the end of the session.

fugly says: March 10, 2010 at 1:32 pm
"I agree – there’s nothing NEW about it. 30 years ago, we knew we had to be the alpha or we were gonna have hoofy-prints on our backs.
It’s all marketing, packaging and unfortunately, it’s laced with a seriously deep thread of bullshit.
What it comes down to for me is this: There was absolutely nothing wrong with traditional horsemanship and traditional training. It did not need to be fixed or improved upon. Were there some jerks that needed to stop training? Sure. They still exist. Only now some of them use Natural Horsemanship, as can be seen in this video.
My main problem with NH is this: It has a culture which discourages people from improving their riding skills. You hardly ever (yes, I know, a few people do it – Chris Cox, I think) hear a NH’er say “ma’am, the horse is fine – you need to improve your seat and develop a stronger leg.” Instead, they tell you that playing this game or that game will develop some kind of magical “bond” with your horse. Do you know what an actual bond comes from? RESPECT. Horses, much like women, walk all over you if they perceive you to be a wimp. They do not love you for it. They may love carrots but they don’t go “wow, this person is so nice to me, I won’t run back to the barn with her any more!” That’s just not how the equine mind works and selling that idea is misleading tomfoolery. Your horse needs to think “wow, I’d like to go back to the barn but I know I can’t, ’cause the last time I tried I just got hauled in a circle and made to chase my tail and really, it wasn’t much fun and I didn’t wind up back at the barn any sooner.” And you can’t BE that confident rider who simply pulls the barn sour horse in a circle and sends it on in the direction YOU want to go unless you’re a good, solid competent rider.
Which takes lessons…and work without stirrups…and that hurts…and makes you sweat…and boy, you have to get off the couch and away from the DVD player and maybe, gasp, get a bit more fit to do it.
Lots of people aren’t interested in buying the truth!"

Pat does not claim to have created something new and gives full credit to his teachers, equine and human alike, both at his conferences and in his books. He also says himself that what he teaches is nothing new (and lists off where and how the methods he teach have been used in the past). Plain and simple. He knows what he is doing is not new, but he knows it is not mainstream (and it isn't, I had heard of Dorrance, Hunt, etc prior to Parelli, however I had never actually seen their techniques nor did anyone in my areas ever use them; I had no idea what they were about). Many people I encounter still know nothing about NH (and similar) techniques; probably a good 90 percent of the riders at any of the barns I have boarded at use very traditional techniques - techniques that are usually as bad as and worse than those Cathy advocates for (though I am going to say that some of the techniques are soft and gentle, yet assertive - ones that I greatly admire and respect). You are right, Cathy, that Parelli is perhaps over-marketed, however that does not take away from the method itself. No, one cannot learns solely from DVD's, however they can still learn from them! DVD's and books can lead to experimentation, correction, adaptation, and learning in one's methods and personally, I see nothing wrong with that. Pat and Linda are not advocating that individuals replace hands-on learning and instruction with DVD's, they are simply presenting a method that includes materials to help the rider. While you (Cathy) might feel that there is no reason to ever improve one's method, I stand by Pat's philosophy: "Good, better, best, never let it rest." Strive to be better and constantly improve yourself and your relationship(s) with your horse(s) - and constantly improve your horses! Furthermore, if Cathy honestly knew anything about Parelli, she would realize they do in fact focus on the rider. In fact, it's all about the rider - there are no problem horses, only problem riders. Which is why they do not focus on the horse, but rather upon teaching the human, which includes proper equitation, among other important skills. Lastly, respect is paramount in PNH - the idea is to create a partnership that balances trust and respect and that is based on love, language and equal doses. Pat and Linda recognize that one cannot have a partnership that does not include respect and have developed a program that revolves around earning both trust and respect (just take a look at the 7 games!). Even the carrot stick obtained its name for that reason: it is not supposed to be a carrot (a bribe or 'wimp', not assertive enough), but neither is it supposed to be a stick (aggressive and punishing) - the way the person works with the horse is supposed to be a reflection thereof, always assertive yet never aggressive and never bribing yet friendly. I never have to boot my horses in a circle, but they also enjoy being with me and follow my leadership, so I don't have to struggle with them wanting to go back to the barn, either :) And I don't know about you Cathy, but I never walk all over a man, 'wimp' or not. I have more respect and decency than that.

For the record, I am all for good horsemanship, whatever be its name or technique, so long as it is always in the best interests of the horse. I am also not always in agreement with everything Parelli: I have my own concerns and I certainly do not like the intense marketing. On the other hand, it is a method that works and that gets the word out there. Hell, I even admit to have grossly mis-interpreted and mis-used the method for awhile! Yes, I was one of those years ago (lol!). I made a lot of mistakes. But I learnt. We are not born in perfection nor with 100 percent knowledge of anything. I learnt through reading, through watching DVD's, through playing with my horses, and through whatever instruction or clinics I could afford.

LMAO while I do not 100 percent side with what this commenter said, I loved how they said it...particularly at the end:
redroanpony says: March 10, 2010 at 1:51 pm
"I disagree, but I think I’m going to disagree with pretty much everybody here on this one. I mean, there are things the Parellis do that I think are just ineffective and/or stupid, and I don’t think this was a great example of the kind of work they do. I did watch it again, and here’s what I saw: the horse doesn’t respond to pressure. At all. Linda asks him to back, and he ignores the pressure or moves into it. He is nervous and unable to stop moving his feet. Linda asks him to back and stop moving his feet. He doesn’t. When he moves, she tries to put him back again and get him to stop moving. When she’s hitting him on the butt with the rope, she’s trying to get him to yield his hindquarters, not move forward, which is why she’s checking with the lead line. She doesn’t do either very well. She is NOT lunging this horse or in any way asking him to lunge, so I’m not sure why everybody is jumping on her “lunging” technique, but whatever.
Did Linda do a good job with it? No. She should’ve stopped very early on and gotten her hands on a carrot stick, because she needed the stick to be more effective in her communication, and it would’ve led to her being much less emphatic and repetitive with the rope. (Or maybe she should’ve just stopped and called Pat. ) She also needed the stick to be more clear when asking him to yield his head, because she’s not tall enough and he’s too tall for her to properly do what she’s trying to do. When I first watched this, I do recall wondering whether that was her first time working with a half-blind horse, because she didn’t seem entirely certain on how to account for his blindness.
But did she scar the horse for life? No. Did she make him headshy? No. I’ve used that same technique — much more gracefully, mind you — to teach countless horses to yield their forequarters. It’s part of teaching them to lead and to yield to you, and it’s no more than a tap on the cheek… even with the hardest cases, a good bump with the heel of the hand is more than enough. And what I’m seeing here isn’t Linda beating the horse in the face. She’s ineffective, but that doesn’t exactly make her a monster.
At the end of the video, there actually *is* a change: the horse is able to stand. He’s not exhausted, and I wouldn’t say he’s “frozen” at all. He appears less nervous than he began and doesn’t feel the need to constantly move his feet. He actually puts his head down of his own accord. When she asks him to back or yield he’s doing it instead of completely ignoring the pressure. It’s not huge progress, but it is progress.
I’m sure my fellow commenters will now write me off as a moron, but I see nothing worse here than a trainer letting a situation get a bit out of control, which happens to everybody now and again. I can’t really believe the amount of histrionics in these comments; you’d think everybody else just watched a video of Linda gutting a horse and eating its heart. And I thought NH people were hysterical about what *they* consider to constitute “abuse”…"

fugly says: March 9, 2010 at 4:03 pm
"Every single natural horsemanship trained horse I have ever worked with REFUSES to stop on the circle on the longe. They ALL spin toward you, if not dart in and try to run you over. I have never seen an exception to this, and many other people here will tell you they have had the same experience.
And the whole basis of all this NH crap is the idea that you can do it yourself without hiring a trainer – that somehow going to clinics and watching videos will be enough. That is the foundation of the entire Cult of Natural Horsemanship. I don’t NEED a trainer, I’m the only one who can “bond” with my horse, and if my horse “bonds” with me, he won’t do bad things to me.
That spinning sound is my eyes rolling around in my head."

I am not surprised Cathy cannot accurately communicate with a horse enough to tell it to stop on the circle and not turn and face (and what's the problem with the horse turning and facing anyway??). See the above video, though too bad some will miss out on seeing the ones of her riding she had posted on youtube in the past. I will say this: all my horses who are Parelli trained will stop on the circle should you ask. The point of the turning and facing though is this: it is not about facing you, it is about the horse disengaging their hind end, which robs their hindquarters, their engine, of driving power (since their hind legs are crossed as they disengage), and thus forces them to stop. It is also an act of respect and trust (if you cross your legs, you cannot effectively run from a predator, so we are in effect also asking the horse to relax and trust us to ensure their safety, plus we are driving their hind end away, much as a herd leader would do in dominance). Teaching them to stop in such a way makes it easy to then relax the tense or reactive horse on the ground in the future, by having them disengage. The maneuver is also taken into the saddle to either halt or calm a horse. Should you wish the horse to not face you, simply ask the horse to stop. Without asking them to disengage. And if a horse is darting in and trying to run you over, you have not been clear in your direction and/or have not been sufficiently assertive, and/or the horse has not learned to be respectful and thus is lacking in its training, Parelli or not. Pat has never told anyone using his methods to train or re-train a horse using his methods without hands-on education - in fact I have personally heard him say the exact opposite, that training is an advanced skill and requires intense one-on-one learning with a professional. His intent with his program is to help riders improve their communication (and thus partnerships) with their horses, to better themselves and tweak their way of doing things with horses, or to even look at things from another perspective, approach things differently, and change how they do things. His intent is to teach riders better horsemanship and he definitely recommends as much hands-on learning as possible. In the event someone cannot do as much hands-on instruction with a trainer as they would like though, is it not better for them to have the appropriate materials to help them, as opposed to stumbling along blindly by themselves? It's not about bonding with the horse at all, it is much more than that. Cathy, you seriously sound like some of the traditional riders I talk to sometimes, who claim they already have a bond with their horse and thus do not require anything more.

Show me "Parelli-ruined" horses, or "NH'ers mishandling horses", and I'll show the same, or more, "traditionally-trained" ruined horses or "traditional trainers and riders ruining horses". I own several such horses myself and see it every day at some of the barns I ride in. It's about the people using the technique rather than the technique itself, in this case. Piss-poor training, bad techniques, bad riding, bad horsemanship - happens across the board, no matter the method (for the most part) or discipline.

Okay, I can't help it, I thought the following conversation was just absolutely hysterical (video embedded below):
kmathews says: March 10, 2010 at 12:55 am
"Now this is a horse that has been trained well and NOT by any Parelli fanatic
Just goes to show you, you don’t need to be whacking a horse in the face or jerking his halter and whatever else those idiots do to train their horses."

shadowsrider says: March 10, 2010 at 1:49 pm
"I don’t really care about the tricks he does, or how he trained the horse, but I would kill to have his seat!!"
rollkursucks says: March 10, 2010 at 5:58 pm
"OMG that halfpass at 1:15 looks so cool, I really wish the video would have shown it going for more than like two seconds! Passage at the end was cute too. Didn’t like all the laying down and crawling around at the beginning– to me, that’s just begging to get your spine broken, but just my personal opinion. I’ve seen the horse agility videos before and thought they were cute. Not my cup of tea, but something I would respect as long as people train it the right way and the horses enjoy it."

Snicker snicker. Most fellow PNH'ers can understand the reason for the snicker. The sheep failed to notice the carrot stick being used. Honza Blaha's site here. Honza credits Pat Parelli's methods as the reason for the turnaround in his Gaston, who was previously very dangerous. Gaston was Honza's first horse of his own, I believe out of a Czech mustang and by a Czech warmblood stallion. The horse grew increasingly dangerous, to the point where Honza's mother and sister (who were caring for Gaston while Honza was living away at school) could no longer even leave the house for fear of the young stallion. Honza eventually took Gaston to Parelli and spent two years studying under Pat, turning Gaston into a superhorse (after gelding him!). I cannot find the story but recall reading it on the Parelli site and watching Honza on youtube tell the story himself. I love watching those two! And, if you want to see sporthorses and serious competition horses (show jumpers in particular) being raised and trained Parelli, Honza is your man too. My goodness, I just find it amusing that the sheep are admiring the very technique they are criticising. If you want to see similar trainers, check out Jonathan Field (former Parelli instructor with whom I have attended clinics with my boys) and Mike and Red Sun (and his other horses of course), on youtube. Then get back to me and tell me that type of partnership is not useful at the competitive level!

Last point was in regards to the Yo-Yo game specifically: some seem to be misunderstanding its purpose and are criticizing the fact that the horse's head goes up and their back hollows during the game. Yes this occurs when initially teaching the game, however it is not the goal as the game progresses over time. Over time the horse backs with a lowered head, at the lowest phase of 'ask' possible (preferably, an assertive body posture and a glare, with maybe a slightly wiggling finger - no ropes!). Parelli has discussed over and over the importance of the contents of the dressage Training Scale as well as the importance of teaching the horse in such a way that they carry themselves efficiently and develop correctly. Hence programs such as "Hill Therapy" and such - working your horse over hills to develop topline.

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