There are three kinds of people in the horse world: those who know nothing, those who know just enough to get by, and those of us who know way too much.
I’m starting to believe that there are really only three types of people in the horse world.
There are those who are not involved with animals, know absolutely nothing and act accordingly.
There are those who know somewhere between a little to a lot about our equine friends and work hard to use common sense, good judgment and follow proper safety guidelines for themselves, their equipment and their animals.
And then there are those who know a ton—professionals, lifetime owners, competitors and the like—whose actions sometimes mirror those who know absolutely nothing.
I see it all the time, and it makes me laugh out loud. If there’s a horse tied up by the bridle reins, it’s either by someone who doesn’t have a clue or by someone who spends every day with horses. Have you ever passed a pickup and trailer stuffed full of colts without shipping boots, hay nets or dividers? I can almost guarantee it’s driven by someone who knows what he’s doing. If I walk by a grooming box at a show full of different types brushes and detangling products, I would bet money that it does not belong to a professional. I can honestly state that my daily grooming routine consists solely of a metal curry comb to knock the mud off of where the saddle goes.
Yes, I have an arsenal of antibiotics, wraps, treatments and ointments to cure anything that ails my mares and geldings, but I couldn’t confidently say that I’ve touched a hoof pick in the last 12 months. (Hey, what are flat-head screwdrivers for anyway?)
Some “ignorant” behaviors are actually gained from experience and education. I was told to never cut a horse’s tail when I was younger. And now? I’ve got scissors handy to keep those puppies trimmed to the fetlock. I’ve seen so many horses pull tails out backing up, loading out of trailers and turning around. I’d take a short, thick tail over a long, thin one any day. I’ve heard 100 different theories about how to properly feed a horse and change their diet safely, and I know each and every person has their own method and way. And I think that’s okay.
Of course, I categorize the horse folks with a dose of humor and a grain of salt. I know there is a lot of timing, feel and judgment that separates the know-nothings from the professionals. When a trainer walks behind a horse, he or she is reading body language of the animal and assessing the situation to be sure no one gets kicked or startled. Someone who doesn’t have a clue wouldn’t understand the subtle cues that a horse uses to communicate.
And to those who don’t have an understanding of how a rope halter is tied or what side to mount a horse from, never fear! With the proper help and time invested, you will learn and grow with your horses and have fun doing so.
So, to those of you who tie gates shut with whatever’s nearby, don’t keep whiskers trimmed to perfection, don’t oil headstalls every two weeks, and tend to stuff your trailers full of using horses, I’m right there with you.
And to those of you who have remained disciplined and diligent, with organized tack boxes and nary a flip-flop or haphazard gate latch in sight, I salute you.
But if you really need a hoof pick, you’re probably out of luck at my place.