Monday, February 19, 2007

Are Arabian Horses Different than Other Horses? Part 2

Again I want to plug the next Horse Lovers' Blog Carnival. It will be hosted right here on Feb 21. The theme is All Things Equine which means all things, not just horses but, donkeys, burro, zebras, you name it, if it's an equine you can add your blog post. You can submit an entry Here Entries must be submitted by Feb 20, 2007 by 5:00 pm PST.

Part One

I addressed in part 1 what I think is an important issue with Arabian horses, you can't bully them. I talked about the problems if you try, and the types of methods you can use. I included short scenrios on the trainers who have helped me over the years. These included John Lyons, Clinton Anderson, Harvey Jacobs and Cody Hurford.

Now, I want to address another issue that sets Arabian horses apart from other horses, spirit. It means different things to different people, I think. With all of the trash-talking done about this breed over the years, I think a lot of it is based in the spirit of the horse.

You would think that if someone knows up front going into their relationship with an Arabian horse, that they are more spirited than other breeds, that person would understand how that spirit relates to the behavior of the horse. Spirit in the dictionary is defined as temper or disposition of mind or outlook especially when vigorous or animated (in high spirits). Translating that to apply to the Arabian horse, I would say Miriam Webster has quite accurately described it as vigorour or animated temper or disposition of mind. It certainly describes every Arabian horse that I've ever known.

So how does that spirit affect how you deal with the horse? Here I think there needs to be some consideration of circumstances. If an Arabian horse is on a regular work schedule, they can and do get a quietness to their demeanor in their normal routine. Sometimes you can forget that they can be as animated as they are capable of. But if the horse gets a break in it's routine and ends up standing in a stall for days, you better bet that when it comes out, it's going to be doing all it can to contain it's animation.

For example, this has been a particularly bad winter here. I school my horses outside and the weather has made that next to impossible. My horses live in stalls and get turned out when the weather permits. Unfortunately, there's not been a lot of turnout time or work time for them in the past two months. So you can bet that when I do get an opportunity to get horses outside or time to ride, I do things a little differently the first time or two. All of that energy has to go somewhere, and I don't want to set my horses up expecting them to behave like puppes when they are spirited horses with days or even weeks of pent up energy to burn.

Normally, I lead my mares out to the field two by two, sometimes I take three. Even though I wouldn't recommend that to someone without a lot of skill, I do it because I can. The horses know the routine, they respect me. They do what I ask. BUT when they've been cooped up. I take them one by one. I know they will try their darnest to be good but I also know that they will be SO EXCITED to finally be getting outside they will have trouble containing themselves. I don't set them, or me up.

The same goes for the boys. While I don't lead them out by twos, I can be pretty relaxed with them when they're getting out regularly. But when they've been kept inside and are bouncing off the walls, I wouldn't think of leading them out with out a little lesson in the stall first, dropping their heads, backing, whatever, to tell them I have something I need you to do, pay attention. AND I will be prepared for rearing!! That means I NEVER take one of the stallions or colts out after they've been cooped up without taking along my old fork handle so I can deal with rearing. At the first sight of a horse springing up onto its hind legs, I put that handle up over its head and the rearing is stopped. Then I back the horse up, walk into it's space and a couple more Harvey Jacobs excercises before we proceed to turnout. This all takes longer but no one gets hurt and I haven't set my horses up to get into trouble.

To be continued.....
Part 3


  1. I have to say that my filly that you liked and said you would like to breed to your stallion is very animated too. She is totally different to her siblings who are quiet and laid back, but she is not stupid with it either. She will be on her toes, jogging instead of walking, head up, looking and watching, expecting monsters behind every blade of grass but she is not unmanageable with it, dont know if that makes sense. She listens and never pulls on that lead rope even if she spooks. She is the same with riding and I ride her in a bitless sidepull bridle. She is very energetic and animated and I like that spirit. That is the sort of horse I am used to not these Western Pleasure horses with their noses down by their knees, I feel uncomfortable riding with the horses head down, nothing in front of me LOL. To have them alert and on the bit nicely without heaviness on your hands is wonderful. I would probably make a great candidate for a few Arabians LOL but life didn't lead me in that direction and Paint Horses it will be for now. I shoot for a local Pinto Association a few times a year when they have their shows and futurity and I love the Arabians and Saddlebred Types. My one regular client who buys stacks of pictures has both of these types and spotted ponies and they also bought a paint mare from us, so they have a bit of everything. I have hundreds of shots of them all, I just wish I had time to put pages together on my website so I could show some of them to you. They love the out of the ordinary shots and if I can capture something unusual they will buy it every time, showing the character of the horse.

    We are definitely kindred spirits LOL, great minds think alike!!

    Best wishes

  2. Funny you should talk about turn-out issues. My horse has had issues with turn-out at our barn. Even though he gets turned out every day, he gets excited to go out with his buddies and will run through the gate. He'll also do it when bringing him in from turn-out, mostly because he gets squirrely when the other horses crowd his butt at the gate.

    Only barn staff are allowed to turn horses out or bring them in, so as an owner I can't fix this problem. I told the barn owner that all she has to do is put the chain on him, and he'll walk like a little lamb. My horse does not like getting in trouble, and just having the chain on gives him a big hello that he's not to screw around. You don't even have to use the chain, just put it on.

    Well, Sunday one of the gals tried to put him outside in the snow without the chain, after he'd been turned-out inside for a few days. Of course, he ran her over and she had a fit. The barn owner told her that it was HER fault, not the horse's.

    By the way, he's the only Arabian in the barn, and he's far from the worst behaved horse there!

  3. Darn MiKael I missed the deadline for the Carnival, I really wanted to put something together but just ran out of time. Of course you are three or four hours behind us but I think I have missed it.

    Looking forward to your next post. Thanks for all the support over the past week or so.


  4. My oldest son Travis had a turn-out issue with his two-year-old colt yesterday. The weather kept him from getting out for a couple of days. He reared several times until he got it into his head that he wasn't getting his way and ended up lunging in a circle each time he tried to show his superiority. Today he was a lot better!!