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WiseAssWallace on Gear

Published: 5/25/2016
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WiseAssWallace, the beloved BLM burro of the NickerNews &BestHorsePractices herd, continues his quest to improve the horse-human connection and make lives better for his fellow equines. Here, WAW discusses the many varieties of harmful equipment.

Watch WAW discuss Feel.

Watch WAW discuss human habits and behaviors.

Watch WAW describe NickerNews & BestHorsePractices versus everything else out there.

WiseAssWallace on Gear from Maddy Butcher on Vimeo.

Watch WiseAssWallace discuss Feel.

Watch WAW discuss human habits and behaviors.

Watch WAW describe NickerNews & BestHorsePractices versus everything else out there.

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Here's his narrative:

Hi! I’m WiseAssWallace and today I’m going to talk with you about the naughty ways in which you humans inflict pain and suffering on us equines. For simplicity’s sake, I’ve divided my comments into two parts.
Part I has to do with naughty equipment and Part II has to do with naughty behavior and training methods. Your understanding and appreciation of both elements will make you a better partner for us.
I’m WiseAssWallace and I guarantee it.

Part I – naughty equipment

Humans got the idea of riding some 6,000 years ago and since then they have crafted some seriously horrible and horribly harmful gizmos.
The harm derived from these pieces of equipment is three-fold.
One: It actually, physically harms us.
Two: it creates harmful habits, reactions, and behaviors in us.
Three: it is a piss poor substitute for proper partnership.

You see naughty pieces of equipment in nearly all riding disciplines. We could start anywhere and go on for hours. But let’s keep it cursory and start with the English world.

Consider, for example, side reins. They are used in dressage to force us to adopt a particular headset. They stink. I feel for any horse that has the distinct displeasure of dealing with side reins. They do nothing but teach a meaningless pressure. Why meaningless? Because they deliver pressure without release. Pressure without release is downright detrimental. Equipment like this begets what researchers define as learned helplessness. Ugh.
Consider flash nosebands, used in dressage and jumping. They are supposedly used to keep our mouths from gaping open. That’s what we might do in order to avoid the bit. These nosebands create nothin’ but tension, people! Tension in our jaw. Tension in our poll. Tension in our neck. Tension in our back.

You riders SHOULD have taken the time to teach us to accept the bit softly.
You riders SHOULD have soft hands, patience, and knowledge.
Instead, you substitute another piece of sketchy, sadistic equipment and wallow unwittingly in your own ignorance and ineptitude.

Who suffers? We do.

Let’s move on to the western side of things.

Consider tie downs. (In the English world, folks might call them martingales.) Tie downs are used in a lot of roping and western sports. They supposedly keep us from throwing our heads up and around. How horrible is this? And who said head tossing was so criminal?
Everyone knows we need to move our heads. To see. To balance. To prepare for what’s ahead. To feel better about you, the rider, and about our environment.

Tie downs make us crazy! Tie downs and martingales can make us resentful, anxious, and out of balance. We end up leaning against them. This brutal reaction results in what you’d call an ‘upside down horse.’

An upside down horse is not a happy horse, folks, let me assure you.

How about bits? Shank bits. Spade bits. Double bridles. Wire bits.

C’mon, people! Unless you are a really good rider, with really good hands. and a really good, willing partnership full of mutual respect, you have NO business using any bit that can so easily inflict pain.
Stop thinking that naughty equipment will compensate for your lack of experience. Stop thinking this gear has any business in your toolbox.

Your most important piece of equipment is your brain. The second most important piece of equipment is your body. Invest in them. Please. You’ll have exponentially more success than you ever would with one of these gizmos. I’m WiseAssWallace and I guarantee it.

Editor's Note:

NickerNews and BestHorsePractices wish to thank Amy Skinner, owner of Essence Horsemanship, for her contributions.

NickerNews and BestHorsePractices also wish to thank the outstanding audio services of Tom Yoder, program director at KSJD radio in Cortez, Colorado.

Thanks, Tom!

View Reader Comments:

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5/26/2016 Charley
Right on WiseAss! With all the science out there telling people what kind of potential damage is being done by the myriad of horrible devices they use, you would think they would WISE-UP!!! I have to hand it to you equines! When I look through a catalog and see the twisted wire and spade bits, nose bands, martingales, bitless bridles that squeeze your heads and jaws, bits with wires that run up your faces and around your polls and jaws, I think it is a wonder more people aren't killed by equines. It is a testimony to your good nature and willingness to forgive our stupid mistakes. I always look at things from my horsey partner's perspective and consider how I would like to deal with a piece of equipment before I ask him to. That's probably why we ride in a rope halter and bareback pad! Come on folks...forget what the clinicians and "pros" are doing, think about what YOU are doing. Don't follow the crowd. THINK for yourself. INFORM yourself. Make better choices. By the way....I am a vet tech....I see first hand what kind of damage is done. It isn't pretty.
5/26/2016 Donna Mori
This is so true! Instead of helping your horse through a problem, or letting them figure it out, many people choose the quick fix with gadgets and equipment that inflicts pain to stop a behavior. Take the time to work through a problem with your horse, you will both be happier!

"Love means attention, which means looking after the things we love. We call this stable management." - George H. Morris