Monday, June 3, 2013

The Face of Spoiled Horses

It is the story of this horse in particular that had me viewing . over and over. Listening to the body language of horses is the basis for all natural horsemanship techniques. It is a rare opportunity to study the behavior of a horse, who according to Brannaman was "as close to a predator" as a horse can get.

We all tend to forget what horses are capable of but it is that potential which should motivate us to do right by them. Any horse has within it the ability to unleash the beast seen in the film. While this particular animal had a contributing physical factor,  its behavior and that of the two other attempts by horses to kill humans I have witnessed were man made. Only two attacks I saw were purely instinct and one of those was lethal.

 Still it is easy for we humans to tell ourselves "it will never happen to me" so we condone behavior that sets the horse up to fail in the society we expect them to live within or we tune out or miss clues that tell us we are in over our heads. 

The horse is not the only loser when that happens. Buck

asks us to see the impact across the board. We all pay for the societal impact of improper horse management even if we don't realize it.

I have to commend the film maker and Buck Brannaman. In our time of politically correctness and the far reach , and sometimes excesses, of the animal rights groups, laying this subject matter out there was quite brave. The spoiled horse is a highly dangerous animal but rarely as obvious to spot as the one in this film. Yet the outcome for this horse is not sugar coated.

Interestingly, the mare that tried to kill Harvey Jacobs was the preferred mount for a child. The only issue her owners  were aware of was she would not take the bridle. To my way of thinking this mare was more dangerous because her killer intent was not obvious. Even Harvey had not seen it until she attacked him.

Potential killers are more common than we choose to believe. I know that because I have not gone out looking for them. They have found me in the course of my ordinary life. True my life with horses is an active one but only two of these  experienced with horses trying to kill were on my farm(one of which was a horse trying to kill a dog chasing him and the other a jealous gelding killed my mare), one at a horse show Ghosts of Horses Past , one in my childhood,   and then these two situations in a clinic setting.

If you add to that the danger I found myself, and my horse in, when a spoiled stallion was stalking Legs in the ring at horse shows, my concerns about the jeopardy we all face from spoiled horses is well founded. Hopefully Buck will help those  who create  the risk see the jeopardy and change their horsemanship in ways that make all of us who love and cherish horses safe.

What about you? Have you witnessed the potentially lethal force of a horse?

To be continued....

Rope Work

I just realized I have forgotten to add the link to the story about the stallion that was stalking Legs in the showring. I didn't write about this as it's own story but included the events as they happened at the different horse shows. I have not located the first incident but this will pick up at the next major one that happened and go on through. I will try to find the first major crash where the horse ran into Legs and add that link if and when I do. 


  1. The college I went to had a stallion that was known to attack and try to kill people. He ended up getting cast in his stall and dying. Probably the best things for this poor horse because the worse he acted the more abusive the handlers got towards him :(

    1. Don't you wish you knew that horse's story because it most likely was a human caused situation too. At least the woman who brought the stallion to Brannaman was determined not to let her horse fall into a situation like you described.

      That reminds me of a mare I met as a teenager. I was told she had actually killed three men when she was in a bucking string. The man who owner her had her for breeding but she liked me so much he finally gave in and let me ride her. She was my best bud and I never saw a sign of even frustration from her, let alone the rage that was described to me. In hind sight it probably wasn't very smart for Jerry to let me ride her. I sure didn't know anything except I felt incredible empathy for her. She could probably tell that and that is why I was safe with her.

  2. Holy Dinah!!! what a horrific event, amazing those horses were not hurt worse!Or you , presence of mind saved you there my friend, and the horses as well. I have never seen that type of rage, and hope I never do,I have seen a stallion "loose focus" in that he got so geared up he forgot that I was on the end of that rope, there is nothing for it , you have to get big and you have to get their attention and fast

    1. LOL, I've never heard "Holy Dinah!" Made me laugh even though I know you didn't mean to do evoke that kind of response from me. You know after I first posted about this incident someone accused me of making the whole thing up. Then as the situation with the red stallion stalking Legs began to materialize, I found myself dealing with the very same show manager as the one from all those years before.

      As we were talking about aggressive stallion behavior, I was wondering how I manage to find myself in the middle of such things and asked him if he remembered the incident. At first he didn't but with a few details I could see the memories come back to him.

      After the fact I wondered how he could ever forget such a harrowing night but then I remembered, he hadn't seen that part of it. He was the one called after it was all resolved. He probably had to file paperwork with USEF and the fairgrounds and then it was over for him but I'll bet that security guard still remembers every detail about that night. He was still ashen when someone from the show committee arrived and relieved him of the duty of cooling down the mare.

      I realized as I read your comment that I had forgotten to post the link about the stallion stalking Legs so thanks for reminding me. I will have to find the first post but did add a link for the part of the story I could find. When I think back on how well Legs handled that situation, I just love him all the more. He sure saved my b*tt.

      I sure wish there was a better way to keep track of past posts than these darn labels.

  3. Not the face of a spoiled horse, but one of a young stud that if not gelded soon would seriously hurt someone. I have never been more adamant about having the vet out for that reason alone and when the day finally came that the everyone agreed- barn owner, owner & trainer- I was more than happy to hold the back leg up when the dropped him and lopped them off!

    It still took a little while for the hormones to clear the system and things to calm down, but it eventually happened. Oh Happy Day!

    This horse charged the front of his stall when others walked by. Reared and struck out on the walker at not only the other horses, but his handlers (Me and the trainer) as well. If the rearing didn't get you he would also spin around and seriously kick at you. Everyone was Always walking on eggshells around this horse and the entire property if he was not in his stall. Gelding him was the best thing for this horse and luckily nobody got hurt before that happened.

  4. This blog is very interesting about the horse.