My, how the Internet can be useful these days! I do media advisory activism work sometimes behind the scenes – land conservation, headwaters, groundwater, clearcutting forestry – and yes, stacking up information about horse welfare issues, and Alberta wildies. The latter was one roaring maelstrom of politico-speak and misrepresentation during the previous Progressive Conservative government.
Listen to any radio interview from that time and I just about needed a weekly visit to the orthodontist to prevent my teeth from grinding down to root level.
Once you key into the tactics – ‘I’m so glad you asked that question,’ is prime – or listen to most radio or television interviews on tactics, you become aware of its language of avoidance, of non-commitment, of smoke and mirrors.
All these kind of activist groups are waiting, with bated breath, to see if the Alberta NDP will slide in with different tactics, perspectives. Canada as a whole may do the same in the upcoming months on federal voting too.
Social media, utilized on another subject that went viral on one of my newspaper columns, involved urbanization, computer and social media use for youngsters in regard to ‘nature-connect’. That subject turned out to be way different, way heavier scientifically and socially than I could ever imagined. Yet one website connect there on FACEBOOK is and was a life-saver of inspiration. Of groups and parents and communities working at understanding how to get young people involved with the land, farming, conservation – getting out hiking even, using green spaces in urban cities.
Social media, for me as a journalist and researcher, blogger and yes, biting away at subjects, is not very much about posting cute quips. No, it’s about linked websites and references on subject material, keeping up with their postings, researching outwards from there.
This last weekend, in blistering hot weather, the Apache strutted his stuff with some long line training tips. I posted up a nice photograph that a colleague snapped with her usual inimitable style and people very kindly clicked quite a few nice ‘likes’… but later on that weekend, on FACEBOOK again, I chanced on a Frenchman operating, I think, down in Florida with classical training background, and offering insights into bio-mechanics. Oh yes, this truly was bless-the-Internet material!
What had me absolutely glued in was his YouTube link of him working one very troubled, very beautiful horse who seriously knew how to rear. You saw the horse’s tactics and reactions, and then I watched truly knowledgeable , switching into super calm in-hand work as they progressed into understanding. At the 2 minute 22 second mark on the link (it’s about 3 minutes 20 seconds, about right for timing on video work) the horse’s topline was noticeable lower, longer and as there was a ‘give’ to the lightest of careful rein contacts, the white-blazed chestnut shook his neck and head. Ah, I thought, tension release but the next second, only because these days I know what to look for, the rider’s left hand reached onto just below the wither and shoulder line, a small but distinct scratch, a ‘thank you’.
The closing YouTube seconds, being ridden again, over jumps this time, was a masterful compromise of give, of knowing, of understanding how horses think. And, a remark there is a training DVD, fair enough, that’s marketing; personally I’d like to see way more of how this gentleman is educating others – and horses. Some DVDs I’ve watched literally hundreds of times, go back to them after a year on a cold rainy night when time’s lagging and pick up something anew.
Here’s the video of Jean Luc Cornille working with Philip, extracted from his Equine Bio-Mechanics discussions at his signature Science on Motion.
For long lining recently, more therapeutic muscular affecting soundness initially, I fiddled around with ideas. The front pasture has a truly tiny ‘hill’ that is so useful for getting horses to self-balance. For one little Arab mare in with no topline and pretty inverted, and what was probably a tweaked sacro-illiac something, long lining for a month – no rider weighting or tweaking painful muscles – was a life-saver. We negotiated walking up and around, opening the shoulder, getting her to stretch out more and more (she so wanted to trot up everything at speed, her way of coping!), left rein then onto right, onto a level spot for another few minutes, then back to that darned hill.
I switched her into a stronger bit after an early chiro-treatment as she was convinced, after two years of managing by loading up her left shoulder, that going straight let alone with right-hand bend, was impossible. In the snaffles I tried out it was, truly, ‘Get stuffed, Human.’ I went back to the old red wooden barn, switched over to a pelham and growled, mightily, every time she dropped that right-shoulder into the circle. I hoped the neighbours weren’t watching, well, listening; I wasn’t swearing, but to a horse it might have translated that way! and voices do dreadfully carry on a still evening.
Sometimes tactics work, and this did for her. We went straight that night for two circles on the right rein, a first for her, so we called it quits. Sometimes letting horses think on issues overnight helps, I’ve found, and with her, the whole straightness issue never re-surfaced. A very good Kiwi horse ‘whisperer’ Bert Elstob told me years back ‘if you get a good deal, even if you only been working ten minutes, quit,’ and I’ve never forgotten that wisdom.
Her topline began to build, more muscles, the neck beginning to really swing, shoulders too. I wish I’d taken before and after (these are the ‘afters’!) but hindsight is a darned annoying number. In the end, we were doing an hour of ‘hill-work’ (very slight and easy, no steep hills yet, no putting too much strain yet on that loin area), and she was looking forward to the outings, that was obvious, I had her interested in challenges.
Then onto a little bay sports horse who’d done something, somewhere and a plank would have had more bend. Another visit by the chiro-whiz-kid, then deliberately onto that Pelham again, stronger yes, but you can get spectacular results with straight-bar bits and poll/curb pressure sometimes. I put just one line on, kept the contact and pressure on, yield by him, let go of the pressure and kept him going forward – and in three circles he had the whole idea.
If only everything in life was so easy!