Monday, March 30, 2009

What about This Video?

Watching this was chilling even knowing the outcome ahead of time. I'd heard about this wreck sometime last year because I'd been told a friend of mine was actually injured trying to stop one of the horses. I had not, however, seen the video until now. Guess I didn't even realize that video existed, although I should have knowing it was a regional championship class. Those classes tend to all be video taped and it's surprising how many actually find their way to YouTube.

This type of video is not my usual posting fare. It's bad enough it happened without some using it for entertainment or to promote their ulterior motives. But leave it to people through YouTube to make a bad thing worse. Some comments regarding this video got my blood boiling for a number of reasons so I guess I'm going to take this opportunity to do some venting and maybe a little educating.

I have to say some people voicing their opinions on this subject have made a lot of assumptions. There must be something or someone responsible for this kind of wreck so it's either the crazy breed or lousy training among other things. Did anyone ever consider that stuff just happens sometimes? In life...........and with horses?

And, of course, it wasn't controlled immediately because the people in the ring were too stupid to do so. The people watching the video are much more insightful than the dopes in the ring. Yet I wonder how many making those criticisms have ever dealt with a panicked horse, let alone a scared driving horse freaked out dragging a cart. From the sounds of their comments their don't know much about horse behaviors either. Yet they have all the answers about this situation. How could that possibly be when no one has all the answers no matter how hard he/she tries? So let's start off with my thoughts about theirs........

The assumption that the only horse that will bolt in the ring is a poorly trained one is most definitely false!

Horse activities are dangerous no matter how well trained the horse. The best trained horse in the world can get frightened and forget all his training reverting instead to instinct. It is part of the nature of the horse, no matter how hard we want to deny it. A horse can be stressed to such a point the little switch in their head clicks over to autopilot and instinct kicks in. Thinking otherwise can only make us vulnerable and unprepared, not to mention eventually get us hurt.

The accident that happened at the horse show I managed did not occur because of poor training. This horse was trained by a person known throughout the industry for his driving horses. He's been doing this for a long time and he rarely has a wreck. There is no way this man would ever take a horse into the ring to show that wasn't ready to be there. He would never risk his own life nor the life of his horse doing such a thing.

Then it had to be Arabian horses or part Arabian horses because of the assumption Arabians are all crazy. The assumption that any breed is all anything is equally false let alone the one that Arabian horses are crazy.

This mishap did occur at an Arabian Horse show but not because the horse was crazy. It was the Region 11 Championships held in Springfield, IL. I don't recall whether it was a purebred class or a part-bred class but just looking at the horses, I would think probably pure-breds. Not that the horses' behavior is a clue but looking at the "breed type" of the horses suggests purebreds to me.

People who have trashed Arabian horses in the comments on this video are just showing their ignorance if you ask me. All those trite things said about Arabian horses are biased and false. They say more about the people repeating them than the do the breed.

This wreck did not happen because it was Arabian horses. It happened because of the nature of horses as prey animals to flee when frightened. There is also the fact that driving classes are inherently more dangerous than other classes.

That doesn't mean I am trashing driving classes at Arabian shows or any other horse shows. I am stating the simple fact it is more difficult to control a spooked horse pulling any kind of vehicle than one with a rider on its back or a horse in hand because the vehicle itself becomes a source of "pressure" for the horse adding to the problem. Being unable to control the vehicle itself becomes an issue that directly affects the horse.

With that being said, accidents in driving classes don't happen often. While I have heard "stories" about driving wrecks that happened before my time, actual incidents since then that I am aware of are few.

In the number of years that I have been showing (about 20 years) I have only witnessed one incident in a driving class. A second incident occurred at a show I managed and a third happened at a pinto show where I knew exhibitors in the class. Then there is this wreck which I heard of within a week of its occurrence since this kind of news travels fast.

Some commented that the wreck happened because it was amateurs driving the horses. That's another off base assumption.

Surely there are amateurs out there showing who aren't really great at what they're doing. But there was nothing on this video that suggested that the driver caused this wreck or did anything to make it worse. Yet there were those people commenting who just seemed to feed off what other people said instead of looking for the truth.

Also, there are some very accomplished amateurs out there driving horses as well as riding them. That driving horse that spooked at the show I managed was not only driven by his amateur owner but trained as well. I hope some day I have as many national championships to my credit as he does.

Being an amateur doesn't make one incompetent. Jumping to conclusions like this, however, can make people look like *sses sometimes.

I have lots more on this rant to continue tomorrow and, of course, I'm open to your two cents worth as well. So step and and have at it!

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  1. I saw this video a week or so before it was posted on Fugly. Scared me! I have never drove a horse before, nor had the desire. But I can see where a frightened and upset horse can become very dangerous with that cart behind them!

    We non-drivers did wonder why those who stopped did not unhitch their horse. I would have thought you would have more control on the ground. The drivers in our group was kind of mixed about it. One felt they had better control while in the cart while another said unhitching & getting their horse out of there would have been a priority. Curious what your thoughts are.

    Our sport - whether on their backs or behind them - is not without danger. This kind of wreck could have happened at any type of show or event with any type of horse.

  2. When I watched that video the other day, my jaw just dropped. What a horrible accident. I know I kept saying to my self while watching the video, "get out of your cart, don't just sit there, get out!!" But that is my "OMG" nervousness that I get theses days. It was a scary scary event. And I wouldn't blame the trainer or the horse or the horse breed. That could have happened in any pleasure driving class. I am glad everyone was okay after the fact. I think the announcer did a good job trying to keep the people in the stands quiet.

  3. It is so easy to observe this video and say what should have been done, but hindsight is 20/20.

    A few years ago, at the Midwest Horse Fair, our group was waiting outside the coliseum for our demo when we heard thundering hooves on pavement. Never a good sound... We turn to see a Gypsy horse pulling a cart galloping down the pavement, the cart hit the curb and the driver was thrown forward, the wheel caught her and she was pulled out and run over by her own cart. The horse continued on in a blind panic and actually ran through the open doors (people entrance) to the coliseum. That is where the horse broke free of the cart...

    Like you said... accidents happen. I never did find out what the woman's injuries were, last I saw of her she was being loaded into an ambulance on a stretcher.

    I would have to agree, that driving is a bit more risky than riding.... there is so much more that can go terribly wrong.

    I hope that people can learn from the video, constructive criticism is great, but there is no need to condemn the people who were just trying to get things under control again.

  4. I don't know anything about driving or driving events, but I do know that anything can happen with horses at any time, with little or no warning. It still amazes me how quickly and sometimes violently they react, and we may not ever know exactly what sent them over the edge. What we do is dangerous on the best of days.

  5. Oh my gosh. That was horrible. It just seemed like the first horse was FED UP with the humans. And the second one, poor thing being knocked down by the first horse and then reacting. Do you know what happened to the second horse? I feel so badly for them.

  6. I always take the comments on YouTube or any service like with a big dose of salt. That is, if I even bother to read them. Truth is, there are a lot of armchair "experts" out there jumping on any opportunity to pontificate out of their backsides. Then you have the trolls who simply love to stir things up for the sake of the drama. These things become a self-perpetuating feeding frenzy where rational thought, good reason, knowledge and discussion are the first to go out the window. In short, I never take it seriously - it's not worth my time or my energy.

  7. Three questions:

    1. Why would you stay in your cart?

    2. Why wouldn't you unhitch your horse if you had an extra pair of hands to help you? Looked like there were a lot of people in the ring. I have never hitched or unhitched. Is it really difficult to do?

    3. Were any horses or people seriously injured?

    I agree with you MiKael--when horses of any breed are involved, anything is possible no matter the horse's training or the rider's skill. I wear my helmet every time I ride simply because I know anything is possible.

  8. I was waiting to see when you would post the video. I too disagreed with many of the comments posted on the youtube site. I read them first to see if all the horses and riders were okay, and to just see what people were saying. I have been around some BAD accidents in my day, and I am going to have to put my 2 cents in about the reactions of the people to the situation. In all the accidents I have seen yes, there is usually a yell when it first happens, but I don't think the constant screaming is okay ever. I liked that the announcer tried to calm the crowd, but the crowd wasn't listening to her at first. And I also think that running towards the horse was the wrong move. With tails up high like that the Arabs were in full "weeeee" mode and I don't think running towards them, especially when they had blinders on, was a good move. My 2 cents is that while it was an accident, and those do happen with horses, I don't think this accident was handled well. I mean, at the end someone started to open the out gate AS THE LOOSE HORSE WAS RUNNING TOWARDS IT. I think one of the first things we learn around horses is that when they get loose you should try and not let them have more area to run in. Can't wait to see what you have to say tomorrow.

  9. As I watched the video the only thing I felt was sorry for the scared horses. Those poor things were scared out of their minds. I am so glad that no one was seriously injured.

  10. I hate blind criticism. Having worked with Arabs (in fact, the trainer I used to work with is quite prominant in that video) I have truely developed a respect for the breed even here in Quarter Horse country where they are quite scorned...for no good reason.

    I grew up with an Aunt who drove Morgan's and watched the trainer I worked with training his, and am in the process of teaching my little Mustang to drive. The first thing I learned on my own was the noticible difference between the types of control from riding to driving.

    ANY TIME a person works with ANY HORSE there is the chance something could go wrong. That's why there are all those laws and signs to help protect horse and arena owners!

    Ignorance is not an excuse. People need to educate themselves - but I think all this video shows is just how quick people are to judge and put blame on others.

    I'm sorry the Arab Industry is so hard hit with this type of behavior from people.

  11. This is the worst wreck I've seen! It just kept escalating and I was wondering why people were running after the horses, screaming from the stands, and not clearing out of there. Unimaginable! Hope everyone and the horses were OK in the end. A miracle if they were. My goodness!

  12. Oh, I saw this video! Frickin' scary! I thought the announcer did a good job to direct and calm everyone down! But Holy man!

  13. It never ceases to amaze me that our equine society has become so filled with "self-proclaimed" experts.
    I saw this video and could not help but gasp. It sure seems like a lot of people are running around and making things worse, but unless you have ever been in a really messed up situation, you NEVER know how you will react.
    I know almost nothing about driving etiquitte so really don't have any idea of what everyone SHOULD have been doing.
    The only thing I can say with any assurance...if I was one of those people sitting in a chair at ground level...I sure as heck would not have continued to sit there until I got run over. My self-preservation skills are a tad stronger than that.

    There were people leaving comments on fugly that none of the horses were seriously injured. Only two carts survived the class. And the horse that started it all was an experienced driving horse, but that was the end of his driving career. No one is sure what caused him to freak.

    What a lot of inexperienced horsepeople just don't seem to realize or want to admit...sometimes bad things happen. There doesn't always have to be a reason WHY, they just do.

  14. Knowing you own and have owned Arabians the longest and know the most about Arabians, I know you would have the best insight on this incident than anyone else I know. So I trust a lot of what you have to say when it comes to Arabians.

    I still have no clue as to why and what caused the first horse to scare, but he did, and reacted and there is nothing wrong with that, but I saw plenty wrong with the way the people reacted, in fact the people is what shocked me in this video. As for how I felt about the first horse, I felt like the horse didn't want the cart attached to him for some reason. Not only was this horse running and freaking, but I saw kicking from this horse too. So I can only wonder, what is the truth behind what happened here? I can only wonder until I am told the truth, and until I know for sure. I don't know everything.. yet lol. All I know, is the horse got scared. But I don't know why. Though I do know, any smart horse will do whatever it takes to stay alive. All horses are programmed to react when they feel like their life is in danger. The horse isn't crazy or psycho, it's just trying to stay alive. I could see those horses would have galloped for a long time because they have so much stamina. They will run for as long as they feel in danger, or until they tire. Which Arabians have so much stamina, who knows how long that could be? lol. As much as this was a panic situation, I was surprised by the people in the ring, putting themselves in front of the horses, putting themselves in danger, or how many times people nearly got run over. Standing in front of a horse running like those horses were, would be like standing in front of a train. I certainly had the feeling the people in the arena made the situation a whole lot more of a train wreck by the things they did, and the way they acted/reacted. It wasn't until the first horse ran into the second horse, that they caught the first horse, but by the time they caught the first horse, the second horse became unraveled from his previously calm self, and started it up again unfortunately. And it wasn't until they tried to lasso the second horse, and the horse went close to the wall, caught it's cart on the wall, ripping free from his cart, but then got caught up in the ropes and came crashing down, making everyone worried for that horse. What would it have been like, should the cart driver of the second horse, gotten that horse unhitched and in hand and ought of the ring, instead of staying in the danger zone? probably not so scary, and a lot less heart ache. The horse got ran into from the first horse, and came crashing down when it got caught up in the lines. I am surprised that horse didn’t die. But then, Arabians are amazing creatures, and it’s amazing what they can endure. And they can endure A LOT! But they sure as heck don’t take abuse well, from what I have seen.

    I am interested in finding out what you would have done, if you were in that position? would you have stayed in your cart and in the danger zone, or would you have hopped out, unhitched your horse, and gotten the H-E-DOUBLE-L out of there!? lol. I think that is what I would of done. But I've never been in that kind of situation before, and it's only since after watching this video, that I have thought out what I would do in a situation like that. I cant imagine what it would be like, to have this happen, and be in the situation, and not have it all thought out... some good quick thinking would be needed.. I sure hope that at least one person learns from this (even if it just be me) that would make this incident worth it, because learning and knowledge is good, even in the worst conditions. Or maybe especially in the worst conditions, because if you learn something good from it, that is good.

  15. I didn't even bother to read the YouTube comments, people who comment in that forum generally have no idea what they are talking about. As I sit here typing with my right index finger because my left shoulder is broken from falling AT THE MOUNTING BLOCK I am proof positive that it doesn't take a catastrophic event like this to cause an injury. Miss' saddle slipped under her on the lunge line several months ago and she completely panicked, it was terrifying, but thankfully I was able to hold on and pull her in slowly until she stopped. Thank god if all the people and horses were OK from this incident.

  16. I saw this video yesterday but was too emotional over it to comment at the time.
    I do think it was a pretty bad situation, not just in what happened with the horses per se, as something that wild could happen with horses in ANY setting. Even in the backyard, as some young girls at my mom's former stable learned. They unwisely tied a horse to a picnic table (that they were sitting at) then had the horse spook, pull the table up over their heads and run towards the main road dragging it behind her.
    Not that anything "unwise" happened to cause the horse to start bucking and bolting while pulling the cart- it appeared to be a normal class go-around with a horse that just lost it's calm. What I thought was crazy and "unwise" was all of the running after the horse (by numerous people), trying to get in front of it, trying to grab it's broken dragging harness gear. Both horses during their "flight of fright" not only had impaired vision due to the blinders, but appeared to be in a total state of panic, almost beyond normal means of control. When that last horse went down, you'll notice it didn't take much to hold it down, it was in fact, so physically exhausted or in shock that it didn't even struggle to get up.
    It's easy to say something about a situation you were not in. I really don't know what I would have done in that situation. I do think I would have just had everyone STOP, get to safe place, calm, and quiet down (including the audience.) And I mean stop, no running around like mad men. It looked like a circus. I really think that made things worse.
    Anyway, I hope that nobody was hurt. And I am well aware that this could happen at any horse shoe, regardless of the breed.

  17. For those asking about the woman who didn't get out of her cart, she was disabled, and unable to get out and stand, so it may have been more dangerous for her to be out of her cart, unfortunately she was slammed into by the runaway horse and thrown from her cart... not sure what they could have done better for that particular situation... have someone supporting her outside the cart? That would have made it difficult to get her out of the way quickly should the horse head her direction... hard to say....

  18. From what I heard on other blogs, the first horse freaked out because he got stung in the rump by a bee (or some such nasty bug). It's a horse that's usually very good, calm, and is quite well trained. Everyone gathered to the center of the arena, to allow him room to "run himself out", but didn't expect him to come to the center to find safety within the herd. He banged into the second horse, who freaked out and took off, too. I also heard that the guy who used the rope was one of the judges; he roped the cart by the shaft which caused it to come off the harness and stop. The harness then got caught up under the horses' feet because of the momentum and wound up tripping him. He went down, and people rushed to his side to help him get untangled. If you look closely, someone is actually leaning on the horses' neck to keep him down, while they untangle his feet from the straps. Fortunately, none of the horses or people were seriously injured, and the horse who "started it all" went on to compete in another driving class later that day.
    Now, this is all heresay; I don't know that any of it is true or not, but thought others might like to know what supposedly really happened.
    My only question is this: did that guy really think he could stop the horse from running by standing in front of him????!!!!!