Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Life in the Blogosphere - Trash Talking Arabian Horses, Old Riders, Dressage and Natural Horsemanship Part 2

It was not my intention by writing Life in the Blogosphere - Trash Talking Arabian Horses, Old Riders, Dressage and Natural Horsemanship to put this blogger in the spotlight. If any blogger should be in the spotlight here it is for speaking out against this kind of blogging. Jackie is the person I think should receive some attention because she had the courage to speak up. She saw a problem and confronted it. She could have taken the easy way out and just ignored it hoping it would go away.

Prejudice will never be conquered if people take the easy way out and believe me, this is prejudice. It may be a personal prejudice against any and everything this person doesn't like but it is prejudice none the less. To treat others,whether they be a group of people or a group of horses, so maliciously in the name of "humor" is reprehensible.

No one understands more than I what kind of damage this type of behavior can reek in the world. Mean spiritedness and hatred are at the root of all that is evil. Turning a blind eye to such behavior only enables it to grow. If we can't stand up for our beliefs about horses how do we stand up for them about bigger things.

Lots of people believe these kinds of things about Arabian horses. Wouldn't it be a sad thing if they believed such things about older riders, dressage and natural horsemanship. The horse community would go from being a safe nurturing place for some to just another place to feel they couldn't fit in. That would be a loss the the horse community as well as the individuals.

For me, I can't just stand by and watch while someone takes pot shots at everything that's important to me. So I'm going to address these issues. Exposing them to the light of day and doing some discussion about them can only help educate those who don't really know enough to understand that this is all a bunch of garbage spewed by a very unhappy person.

I know that some of you have tracked down this blog and other's didn't. Some visited Jackie's post and some didn't. Since there are those who still have no idea specifically what all the commotion is about I'm going to post the excerpts that Jackie used in her post. For me this is about addressing the fiction with some much needed facts.

“I think I will pick an easy topic today, stupid horse breeds. Stupid breed # 1: Arabs. I know, I know its so easy, there is so much material. I will try to make it fresh for you. What are arabs actually for? I mean besides spooking. I guess they can do English classes, but really what horse cant do english? But look at this: these horses are too small for grown-ups and too stupid for children. Adults really do look like idiots on Arabs, they may as well be ponies, no one over 13 should be allowed to own one”

Spooking is not limited to Arabian horses. All horses "spook" just as mother nature intended. It is an instinct necessary for their survival in the wild. For many modern day horsemen spooking may seem like an obstacle but for the Arabian horsemen, the great awareness of their horses helped protect them against an undetected attack from their enemies.

Because Arabian horses originated in the desert they needed "special features" to aid in their survival. Their eyes are set wider apart and at an angle that allows them to see much greater distances than other breeds. Their ears are also shaped, sized and set on in such a way as to make the range and acuity of their hearing greater than other breeds.

These two features account for the fact that Arabians appear to spook for no reason to some people when in actuality, the horse sees or hears presumed threats farther away just as mother nature intended.

As for the uses for Arabian horses, they are considered to be a versatile breed and by some the MOST versatile horse of all time. In the show ring they can be seen performing in everything from cutting cattle to dressage. In between are driving horses, all kinds of english horses, western horses, halter horses and trail horses. There is not a single discipline in the USEF Rule Book that Arabian horses can't compete competitively in.

Out in the rest of the world there are many, many places Arabian horses are used in competitions and on the trails. For many 3-day eventers Arabian horses are the breed of choice. Arabians dominate in endurance rides. Even the dressage world is beginning to accept Arabian horses as talented horses.

Two of the fastest growing disciplines in the country, cutting and reining, recognize the accomplishments of Arabian horses. Even back in 1961, the big prize, the Reined Cow Horse class, at the Cow Palace was won by an Arabian mare, Ronteza,ridden by a woman, no less, Sheila Varian. The mare fell during the ride but the rider stayed on as the mare jumped up and completed her rundown of the cow to win the biggest prize in the world.

Today many of the top QH reining and cutting stallions have references on their web pages to how those horses cross with Arabians because the market is sooo hot for the quarter horse/Arabian cross. There are huge purses on futurity classes for half-Arabian reiners and cutting horses at both the prestigious Scottsdale show and the US Arabian National Horse Show.

When it comes to size, Arabians are a more compact horse but not necessarily a shorter horse than all light horse breeds. True the breed standard is from "14.2 hands to 15.2 hands with an occasional individual under or over." But those standards were based on the desert bred horse fed on a desert diet. Today's horses tend to be taller. Most horses seen in the show ring are 15 hands and up.

With the exception of one horse who is 13.2 hands (affectionately know as the midget mare), horses on my farm range in size from 14.2 hands to 16 hands, most mature well over 15 hands. I have breed 3 Legs babies that have matured to 16 hands. I believe there is one more he has sired that has reached 16 hands out of the approximate 25 foals. Over half of the foals he has sired are not yet mature.

While I hear a lot of quarter horse, paint and pinto people refer to Arabians as being much smaller, what I see for height in most is comparable. It is the difference in body mass that accounts for the perception that quarter, paint and pinto horses are a much taller horse. Indeed they are bulkier, but when I ask people the actual height of their quarter horse or paint I rarely come across one taller than Arabians I own.

The inference that adults are too big for Arabian horses actually makes me laugh. From the time I was a kid I was told I was too tall for an Arabian horse. I am nearly 6 feet tall and have a 36 inch inseam ( for those who don't know most jeans for women aren't even made that long), yet the very first horse I bred turned out to be 16 hands tall. My leg doesn't hang down past his belly let alone drag on the ground as you might expect from the picture that way painted. My heel can touch him right on his side if I'm so inclined.

It's interesting to note, that the author complained about how spooky Arabian horses are and yet ended up saying no one older than 13 should be allowed to ride one. That would seem to be a contradiction of her own point of view, unless of course she has no value for children either. However, it is important to note that the Arabian horse is the only breed which allows children, even those under 13 to show stallions. The reason for this is the tractability of the horse.

Another story that tells the great affinity Arabian horses have for children came to me a couple of years ago. I was judging the last schooling show held at Cedar Downs before the facility was torn down. One of the woman working in the office of that show was the leader of a very large 4-H group. While most of the kids in her group were riding quarter horses, whenever she got a beginner kid the search was on for an older Arabian. For this leader and many others there is no more reliable a mount for a child than an Arabian. This leader accounted for the number of quarter horses in her group more peer pressure than true breed preference. It had been her experience that those kids who started out on the Arabians eventually came back to the breed.

I've written other posts including Are Arabian Horses Different from Other Horses and Are Arabian Stallions Different Than Other Horses? that describe the Arabian horse and its relationship with humans. Writing such posts and confronting the misconceptions is the best way I know for people to learn the truth about this breed that I love.

Tomorrow, I'm going to confront the other section of the disrespectful post and then I promise I will be done with this subject until something stirs it up again. In the meantime, keep the discussion flowing. Oh and in that vein, one more thing I forgot to mention here, ALL other light breeds of horses can be traced back to Arabian horse!

To be continued.............

Part 3

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  1. MiKael I have a question thoguh. Is not some of their reputation coming from the fact they are trained like this.

  2. I'm really surprised by all this. In my few months of blogging, everyone has been so very, very nice. Horse bloggers, that is. I haven't gone to this particular blog but I have to believe that this was a poor attempt at humor and traffic building. All the horse bloggers I know seem to be people who are interested in making life more positive, even through difficulties, and are wonderfully supportive of each other. You are widely respected, your horses are beautiful and talented, and though I think you are justified in writing your defense, you really don't need to defend anything. You made a great point when you said that horse breeds, like dog breeds, aren't right for everyone (except you said it better than that).
    I haven't been to the site, but I would recommend that the blogger use humor in a self-deprecatory way, not scathing meanness directed at others.
    While you're mad, you may want to look into the terrible case of horse neglect by an Arabian breeder in S.C. Maybe you know Arabian horse folks in this area who could help or would be interested in adoption. I have written far too extensively about this situation on my blog, but every day the news gets stranger and stranger.
    I have great respect for you and couldn't possibly do what you do every day. Best wishes.

  3. I'm gonna have to blog about this comment was getting LOOONNNNGGG...LOL! ((HUGS!!))...this was a GREAT entry! :)

  4. #1.You look great on that horse.
    #2.Arabian's are beautiful, intelligent horses.
    #3. All horses spook, I had one of the spookiest 17.2 hand Dutch Warmbloods on the planet.
    #4.All horses are individuals no matter what their breed.
    Thanks MiKael for addressing this subject of prejudice against certain breeds of horses. I might add that early on before paint horses were accepted in English riding circles, my daughter's horse was discriminated against until the judges simply had no choice but to pin him because he was so talented and well-trained. We would hear comments like,"what's that western thing doing here".Throughout their showing career they consistently won the year end award on Long Island for the highest scores in Equitation at rated shows. For 15 years I also put up with uniformed
    "horse people" calling my horse a "dumb blood". Erik was not stupid but very talented and sweet. I'm happy I've finally got that off my chest. So, as long as you love the horse you have, it doesn't make a difference what breed you choose as long as it is right for you.

  5. Mikael, I just love that you aren't afraid to defend what you love and hold dear.

    I couldn't agree more about riding older arabians when kids are learning, or adults for that matter. That's how both my girls started, no older dependable, sensitive arabians.

  6. Like you, I've lived most of my life riding Arabian horses, and chose to do dressage with Kaswyn before it was accepted and commonplace for an Arabian to do dressage. I heard many negatvie comments about him, his breed, and how diffcult it would be for me to get anywhere. Now he's a confirmed FEI horse who has regularaly outscored not only warmbloods, but throoughbreds, paints and quarter horses. I'd have missed out on this wonderful horse partner and our fantastic showing experience if I had never bought him because he's an Arab or I thought dressage was a horrible thing.

    I really don't care what other people think. I love my horse, I love my discipline, and my horse is happy. Say all you want about my breed and dressage, but just don't say it to me cause I don't want to know or care to know what you think if all you have to say is nasty things.

    People who say things with the intent to hurt other people are evil, and karma will get them.

  7. RR... I took my first few lessons on an old QH, then an arabian (he was dead broke, but was a barrel horse, so I had to have control of my legs as you can imagine). I learned on the arabian. He could do some major butt kicking in a games show, but he was also the horse of choice for disabled kids because of his steadyness, and adaptability, funny those kids could kick him and he had no reaction, he knew his job no matter what. I have fond memories of that little boy.

  8. The only thing I can say is that the person who wrote that garbage is pretty ignorant. Don't let it get you down Mikael, none of the rest of us feel that way about Arabian's!! They are just gorgeous, intelligent, wonderful, talented creatures!!! And as for us older gals, and I'm older then you are, we could whip her sorry butt any day of the week!! Take care my friend and keep writing the wonderful posts, I have learned soooo much from you!

  9. I do believe this person is stating her opinion. An opinion that is NOT based on fact. It appears to me that she has obviously never been around Arabian horses, if she had she would not be so wrong in what she typed on her blog. A little research on her part and she would realize just how much misinformation she was typing. It really reflects badly on her.

    I don't care what you're dissin' if you don't do your research first, it makes you look like an idiot.

    Keep up the good work MiKael. :)

  10. "I think I will pick an easy topic today, stupid horse breeds. Stupid breed # 1: Arabs. I know, I know its so easy, there is so much material"

    I cannot believe how stupid this blogger comes across.

    As a horse lover, I love all breeds, QH being my favorite because of my lifestyle, but I still love them all because, they ARE HORSES.

    If the right Arabian horse was available, I wouldnt hesitate to buy him/her.

    Sure breeds are different, truth is, I have not met any Arabs that were spookier than a QH or a Morgan or a TWH or a Paso and so on.

    I do not understand people like this blogger.

    and while I am harping over here...

    learning horses is a continuing education. All of it cant be read in a book or preached from a trainer, it comes w/ experience.

    So, I wouldnt be so quick to judge older horse owners/riders/breeders/show people.

  11. Well, now I wanna go read that blog! I'm thinking it's probably a FUGLY lover... (see me rolling my eyes here?)

    While I love to kid you about your zany obsession with Arabs, I can very much relate to the prejudice you face. I hear it all the time with the mustangs as well, from "They're nothing but untrainable knotheads" to "But what can they really do?" Oye...

    You know the rest of us love you and your adventures!

  12. beckyz, obviously that was done by someone who hates halter and I would guess that they really hate seeing yearlings shown in halter. I have lots of opinions about that and the video but not enough room here. Will address this issue in a post.

    anne, you may be right that this blogger is focused on building attention. And she certainly is entitled to her opinion. But the way she has gone about this is abusive and I for one have no tolerance for abuse of any kind.

    As for depending myself, that's not my intent here. I know I have a base of readers who support me and I really appriciate that. But I also get a goodly number of first time readers every day and some may no nothing about Arabian horses and some may believe some of the things that have been said about the breed. That is why I chose to address these things.

    I have not heard about an abuse case in SC. Will check into it. Thanks for point it out.

    equinespirit, that's exactly how I ended up blogging about this in the first place. I can totally relate.

    grey horse matters, I so agree the right horse for the right person is what it's all about.

    Thanks for sharing about your daughter's horse. Putting and end to such prejudice would be a good thing.

    kathy c, thanks for the support. I didn't realize (or maybe remember) your girls started on older Arabians. lol

    dressagemom, well you are a hero in my eyes. Riding an Arabian in open dressage when it was frowned upon takes a lot of guts. Riders lke you have helped to change the opinions of those people.

    lovelee, thanks for mentioning about the Arabians with disabled riders. I forgot to even mention that. You'd think since my daughter was rehabilitated on an Arabian that would have been one of the first things I mentioned. lol

    midlife mom, I don't think it's gets me down as much as fire up. It's probably good at my age to get a little fire now and then. Don't you think. LOL

  13. lady of chaos, I have to say I agree with not doing research and speaking first can make one look pretty bad.

    barn goddess, I couldn't agree more. Horses are horses and there's nothing I love more than a good horse no matter what the breed.

    tracey, I know that you face a lot of prejudice with the mustangs as well. I have heard the rude comments and such. That's one of the reasons I appreciate your blog because you do for the mustang what I try to do for the Arabian. Help others see them as the horses they are.

    I could psychoanalyze this blogger (I'm actually pretty darn good at it lol) and tell you her attacks are based on fear, among other things. Lots of people fear what they do not understand. Instead of being open to learning to put aside the fear, they attack instead. It's a sad fact about human beings.

  14. Ugh, I went and read the blog. It is basically written by the most ignorant woman on the planet. Reading some woman's drivel about how "stock horses" are the only good breed of horses is nauseating. And a picture of someone I used to work for is on her blog. I'm sure it's copyrighted.

    I think from what I read that she's only been riding a few years. Every now and then I come across a new rider who thinks they know EVERYTHING about riding. She boards her horse at some western show barn and suddenly knows everything about every breed and discipline of riding. I've been riding since I was a kid, and feel like I don't know ANYTHING!

    I got to ride an Arabian a few times when I was a kid, and it was awesome. I doubt this woman has ridden anything other than a quarter horse. Otherwise she wouldn't be hating on everything else.

    Sorry for the rambling - gotta get to class!

  15. What I love about your blog, Mikael, is that you don't say ALL. Your counter argument to this trash talking isn't to say that all Arabians every where are perfect. You admit that there are short Arabians. You admit that there are Arabians who are super spooky. Your point seems to be that no breed should be seen as universally awful or universally perfect. People who make broad, generalized statements that include every member of a group are just setting themselves up to look foolish.

    If the blogger wanted to say that the Arabians she'd met weren't great, I wouldn't be happy with her but I guess I couldn't argue with her either. Maybe she's had bad luck with Arabians? My problem is that she lumped ALL Arabians into her slam.

    Thank you for being such a reasonable person.

  16. to Beckyz... I have seen abuse from every discipline and every breed. Dressage, driving, western, gaming, kids ponies, halter, trail and so on. No matter what, there is some person out there training in innefective and traumatic ways. Arabians are no exception.

  17. You Go Girl, Listen, I did track down the dweeb and she's nothing but a round as she is tall TweedleDum and some referred to her as Big Green as her picture shows her in western pleasure lime green. I read her blog, and she not only complains of Arabs, but of every single discipline out there except her own and she complains of that saying that the "old Hunchbacks" win at western pleasure and now she likes poles. Obviously because she cannot compete, lacks the experience and Geezus, if I was a judge and saw that green thing coming towards me, well, I probably wouldn't score her well either. She's a bitter little fat*ass and she's trying to stir controversy and get herself on the level of Fugly with popularity, only she's not smart enough to do so. It's really laughable, there isn't one comment on one of her posts, not one. No one has given her any respect as she clearly does not deserve it. She has turned her green self, appropriately colored in my opinion into the laughing stock of the horse blogsphere. She has bitched about every discipline, I mean everything. She is green with envy and a sad sad individual that has alienated herself from what could have and is to all of us a marvelous commeradery and great friendships. Too bad for her. Sad Sad green fat*ss. I for one am greatful for the friend I've made in you and all of our fellow horse bloggers, no matter the horse or discipline......

  18. I don't care to know anything about this blogger. Her humor is hurtful. You certainly know we love you and your beautiful horses. I hope she doesn't pick on Appaloosas next because then I may have to rumble with MidLife Mom and kick her silly butt.

  19. This is a very interesting topic.

    Obviously the writer in question is entitled to her opinion, but the way it was written really appeared to come off with a bunch of attitude.

    I understand that many of us have our own breed prejudice to some degree. I have heard top-notch Arabian horse trainers refer to stock type breeds as clunky and slow. I appreciate that he was telling me his opinion. I appreciate even further that he told me this while sitting on top of a 3 year old QH gelding that he was being paid to break. This gentleman went on to explain to me that the "attitude" that the young Arabian horses tend to have when first in training, is what he loved so dearly.

    Different strokes for different folks.

    That being said, I have been around stock breeds most of my life. I know them, I enjoy them, and I show them. I know very little about Arabian horses....most of what I do know, I have been learning from your writing. (I never knew they COULD be taller! Awesome!) I have ridden hundreds of horses in my life of many breeds. Specifically, two Arabian geldings stick out in my mind as amazing horses.

    Because of those two, when I was asked to do some training for a local Arabian horse breeder....I was excited for the challenge! I had fun! I got to know a horse breed a bit better! And I officially formed a positive opinion of the breed in general.

    The writer that spewed those upsetting words is simply ignorant. He/she may also be "uneducated" in that she has not spend enough time with the breed. Their loss, huh?

  20. I think perhaps this lady is some sort of a kook. Her blog is so awful I cant help but wonder if it is some sort of a hoax. I think we all should send good thoughts and love to the horses this troll owns as they need all the help they can get. I will happily take my ARAB who stands 15.1+ on to the DRESSAGE court any day and ride proudly. Her blog is so dis tasteful it made me think of the ugly people I have seen on film when they intergrated the schools in south. NUFF SAID

  21. MiKael I can't add any more than the previous commenters have already. I love what you have taught me about your breed and I am one of those people who believe a horse is a horse no matter what the breed or size, I love them all.

    Kudos to you for standing up for what you believe in and for trying to educate people who dont know better. I bet your blog will still be here with it's staunch supporters way after she has dissappeared into oblivion.



  22. Tracey said: I'm thinking it's probably a FUGLY lover... (see me rolling my eyes here?)

    nope. She either quit that blog or got removed. They don't even like her there.

    ah well....this type of ignorance doesn't want cured or fixed, she likes the controversy.

  23. Well, I had to go see her blog and must admit to a bit of laughing. She's off an reining horses now in an effort to even things up (you know, another western discipline vs dressage and Arabians.)

    We had a young man on the forum who used to belittle anyone and everyone who showed up and rode something different than a QH ranch horse. His favorite target were the girls who showed up with Arabs. Can't tell you how many times I had to tell that kid to mind his manners. Some folks just don't get it and struggle with playing nice int he sandbox.

  24. julia, ya got that right! The rambling was good too. One thing about this series of posts, I've gotten to know more things about many of my blogging buddies. That has definitely been a plus.

    katee, thanks for the compliment. It made my smile, mostly I was thinking all that therapy paid off. lol

    lovelee, I am going to address that video. While the message might have been clear to them , it isn't so clear to me. Things are not always what they seem.

    callie, LOL you don't have any feeling on this subject, do you? Just spit them out! LOL

    I'm with you. I feel like I've made some great friends here and that's growing all the time. I hope to make a lot more and hopefully we'll see more and more breeds represented. There are lots of them out there I don't know much about but sure would like to learn.

    molly, the idea of you and midlife mom getting together to rumble sounds like a sight I'd like to see. Just think of the posts that could be written over that one. LOL

    It's going to take more than pennies to get to Scottsdale, btw, and I'm thinking if I go, I really should take a horse. Don't you agree?

    lulu, you are right, it is her loss.

    20 meter circle, yes the bitterness had the same kind of effect on me. I immediately thought of prejudice in it's worst forms, not just the hatred in the south, but Hilter came to mind. Such angry bitter words. Very sad.

    And you go girl in dressage. I can't wait to hear about your season.

    lori, yes, I think it's about to the point that enough's been said.
    A horse is a horse, of course, of course....Was that Mister Ed??

    holly,I too rolled my eyes at Tracey's mention of Fugly, some of those commentors are not very nice....... While I agree with the premise that breeding should not be done irresponsibly, I don't think that's an excuse for attacking anyone with such malice as I see there sometimes. I doubt that they accomplish what they want to because the message gets lost in the anger and sarcasm.

  25. tracey, I must confess. I first read your comment and though you wrote playing in the catbox. Couldn't help but think that might be a good place for her. LOL We all have our moments. LOL

  26. And since you are considering taking a horse to Scottsdale, you might as well take 2 or 3 :) I would love to meet Legs in person and tell him how infatuated I am with him and maybe get up the nerve to ask for his autograph.