Tuesday, 16 July 2019 14:25

You Can Only Let Go If You Listen

Does my horse ‘listen’ to me?

Whilst horses cannot ‘talk’, or speak our language, it is suggested that they are able to understand many of our communicative techniques. Wathan et al (2016) found that horses are able to analyse facial expression of conspecifics, to gain social information. More recently, Proops et al (2018) found evidence of this analysis being used by horses to gain information on heterospecifics; in particular, humans. This study suggests that horses remember human emotional expressions, and associate the memory to the specific face from which they saw it displayed.

One of the most distressing things I that had read when researching this topic is how negative facial stimuli affects horses. Smith et al (2016) measured stress parameters against photographic stimuli; finding increased heart rate to be amongst the most expressed when negative stimuli, such as a frowning face, is presented. Perhaps bear this is mind when you are around your horse?

So… horses are great listeners. But do we listen to them?

In light of this, another phrase comes to my mind… a Winnie-the-Pooh (A. A Milne) quote, of course.

This quote makes me feel so sad, because it really is so true. While horses clearly ‘listen’ to us, we don’t always listen back. They spend time to monitor our emotions, yet do w​e do the same?

The reason that I am bringing this quote up is because this is something I held onto when I lost Rakker. I think it is easy for us, as owners, to stop paying attention. I don’t mean ignore your horse - I mean, get so wrapped up in worry and paranoia that you forget to ‘listen’ to them. I hold my hand up and admit this. Having a sick horse is not easy, and becoming over-focused on keeping them ‘well’ can cloud communication between you both.

When I had the decision to make, I thought about this quote. I thought “What is Rakker saying?” “What does he want me to do?”

Sadly, a genie didn’t fly out of a lamp at this point and give Rakker the magical powers of speech. Instead, I realised that I was being so selfish. I thought I wanted him alive because I would miss him too much if he went. I didn’t stop to think about what he wanted – I wasn’t listening to him.

By ‘listening’ to Rakker, I made my decision, and, as you’ll know, it was his anniversary was on Tuesday. I let Rakker sleep on the 2nd July 2018. I decided to take him to my local vets practice as he had been there many times before – he expected needles and vets. I didn’t want to stress him out by doing it at home, as he was always such an anxious horse when his home routine was disturbed. My vet, who Rakker knew well and trusted, sat with me, as we let him sleep. Rakker’s head was in my arms, as my tears rolled down his cheek. I still get upset with myself for crying because I so badly didn’t want to upset him. But he wasn’t upset. It was honestly like he knew. He was calm and he looked happy. He was led looking at me and he just drifted off, in my arms. He went peacefully.

I have honestly never cried like that in my life. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve known your horse, losing them is the hardest thing you’ll ever go through as an owner. Whether you’ve known them for one month or ten years, the pain and overwhelming feeling of loss still applies to you. Don’t let anyone tell you that you shouldn’t grieve for the horse you’ve known for one month; only you know what you had with that horse. Only you know what you went through and the times you spend together.

Despite all, what I do keep in mind is this:

By letting him go, I listened to him. I let him talk to me, and I listened. I didn’t let my own words overwhelm his.

Although two years with him wasn’t long enough, I’ll have the memory of him with me forever. No one can take the memory of him away. I get to keep those, for the rest of my life, and, for that I am so lucky. He taught me so much. Not only whilst he was here, but afterwards, too. I am so privileged to have known him, I cannot forget that.
Please take the time to listen to your horse.
If anyone is going through the awful decision of letting go, I hope this blog has helped. I send hugs and support your way. ​
Emily Hancock
Emily is a final - year BSc (Hons) Bioveterninary Science, documenting her journey to vet school, alongside many adventures with her 'unicorn', Phoebe. 
They love to compete, affiliated in showing, and enjoy unaffiliated dressage and showjumping. And ,of course, they adore hacking out together...
Published in Trot On Blogs
Wednesday, 25 April 2018 10:51

Does Your Horse Have A Best Friend?

It is not one of my strengths to keep friendships going. I actually suck. That might be due to the fact that I like spending time on my own. Enjoying the amenities of online shopping, I would not even have to leave the house if there was no Hafl making sure that I get out from time to time (sure, going to work is a must, too).

When Waliento arrived at our barn in late 2017, I had no idea that he would become what I would call Hafl's best friend. During winter, they spent their winter turnout together and watching them play showed that they really like each other. Whenever they can, they play and tease each other, run around, squeak and bolt. Hafl is like an older brother for Waliento now, teaching him not to panic when on a trail ride, showing him how to behave while cantering in the great wide open, making sure he is not shitting his pants when we put obviously dangerous objects into the arena. Hafl even seems calmer than ever before just like he is thinking: need to be brave, little brother is watching.

back of two horses heads on road with fencing and shadows in sunshine


two ponies greeting each other in indoor menage

I guess Hafl had best friends before. It all started with my other horse back in 2009, a guy he really liked. After selling him and moving for the second time, he met Wax, a friend's horse and together they explored the world and even made it to the sea. After we parted and moved to other barns, Hafl did not seem to have a particular horse he liked until Waliento showed up.

dark bay horse on the slope of a snowy field with haflinger horse

Hafl and PE, back in 2010


two horses wearing blue rugs greeting in snowy field

 It is really fun to see such a relationship even though sometimes they take it a bit too far. Turnout season is right ahead so I am already wondering whether the grass will be more important than playing with this friend.

two horseback riders laughing and holding hands wearing a red jacket cantering on haflinger ponies in snow

Haffie best friends

Does your hose have a best friend?


Published in Trot On Blogs

One of Bondi's most recognisable residents is waging a campaign to rid the beach of mounted police who he says treat the national icon as a 'horse toilet'. 

Speedo-wearing Dimitri Moskovich, who works out every day at Sydney's most famous beach, is so upset about horse droppings on his beloved Bondi he confronted Prime Minister Malclom Turnbull last week. 

'Stop police horses coming here,' Mr Moskovich told Mr Turnbull. 'We don't need horses here. It's an abuse to our beach.'

  • Police horses are used to regularly patrol major Sydney beaches including Bondi

  • The horses defecate on the sand and promenade, annoying some local residents

  • Dimitri Moskovich has taken his complaints to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

  • Mr Moskovich says the animals are turning a national icon into a 'horse toilet'   ... READ MORE


Published in Articles

2018 New Year’s Resolutions

I want to make some changes for 2018 and in order to do so I’m doing something I’ve never done before; I’m setting New Year’s Resolutions.

2017 didn’t go to plan

2017 was not my year and frankly I will be glad to see the back of it from an equestrian perspective.

My 6yo who I had from a 3yo (for whom I was super excited about) was diagnosed with kissing spine at the start of the year.  I then had to search for another horse, which in itself was super-difficult with a very limited budget.

After months of searching I purchased a smart little chestnut mare at the end of August and I’ve been riding her on these last few months in preparation for our first show in the New Year.

What I’ve mostly struggled with this past year is my mindset. Specifically, being able to keep a positive mindset when things are not going to plan.

It’s almost been a year to the day since I last competed and I’ve found that really frustrating as I am someone who has the competitive bug.  So, with New Year around the corner, I am determined that I’m not going to let another year pass without progression. To help me do this I’m setting some resolutions.

A positive 2018

Here’s my New Year’s Resolutions for 2018:

1.  To set goals

I’ve never really formally set goals. I’ve set them in my head but I’ve decided to cement them by writing them down and also speaking about them on the blog.  I feel that will really help me stick to them.

I’m going to set a combination of small goals and bigger ones. I’m also going to put together a competition diary so that I know what I’m working to.  In the past I’ve just looked at what’s coming up competition-wise but I’ve never really thought and planned things strategically. This year it’s going to be different.

2. Keep a positive mindset

I always try and maintain a positive mindset however this can be very difficult at times.  This year if things are not working, I’m going to make changes quicker. What I’ve learnt is that when horses break or things are not working out, then you should be quick to make a change. I’ve spent months and months praying horses would come sound etc and what I’ve learnt is that you need to keep moving forward and not waiting too long for things to sort themselves out.

3. Exercise; Socialise; Eat Well

There’s several other things which ensure I maintain a positive mindset and I am going to make sure I do them all to put me in the best position to achieve my goals:

• Exercise – I’m loving CrossFit at the moment and plan to continue it. It’s great for body and mind.

• Eat well – I really notice that eating rubbish food affects my mood so I’m going to ensure I eat well.

• Socialise – I feel like I know myself very well now. I am someone who loves to socialise.  In 2018 I’m going to make more effort to see friends and be social as much as possible.

4. Reflect & be grateful

It’s so easy to focus on the negative things in life. I can often be guilty of this.  I really want to try hard this year to keep focusing on all the positive amazing things in life and to not think about ‘What I don’t have’ or ‘What I can’t do’.

Do you have any horsey New Year Resolutions? If so, I’d love to hear them.

Lots of love,

Abi x

A Country Lady

 abi acl 150A Country Lady is a blog devoted to equestrian fashionistas around the world. Run by UK based amateur Show Jumper, Abi Rule. 


Published in Trot On Blogs

As a horse training center in San Diego County caught fire, authorities declared the conditions unsafe and the horses were pushed from the stables and allowed to run free, causing confusion and panic as some of the animals bolted to the main track and others simply circled their fiery homes.

"There was so much smoke it was difficult to see," horse trainer Dan Durham told ABC News. "Some of the horses were turned loose so they could be safe. They were scattered around."

"Individuals risked their lives in efforts to free the horses from their stalls and herd them into the safer infield area and training track," Mike Marten, the public information officer of the California Horse Racing Board told Fox 5 San Diego.

After the danger passed, surviving horses were loaded onto trailers and taken to the stables at Del Mar Fairgrounds.

But by then, sadly upwards of 30 horses had died.

Trainer Brian Kozak said he saw several horses collapsed on the track and more dead in the barns.

“There’s a lot of dead horses,” he said Thursday. “A lot of them just didn’t get out of their stalls and got asphyxiated.”

Southern California has been ravaged by multiple wildfires this week. Over 200,000 people have been evacuated, and overall the fires have affected some 9.5 million people.


Published in Articles

The death toll in the Northern California wildfires has reached 31, but these two horses managed to survive.

When Pepe Tamayo and his family tried to escape the wildfires in Northern California, their road to safety was blocked and the family of five was trapped.

“You can see the big ‘ol flames like 15, 20 feet high and I told my family, ‘pack up whatever is important, leave,'” Tamayo told ABC 7. “And I said I’m done, I’m gonna die.”

With no other options, Tamayo set his two horses – Lolly and Sammie – free in hopes they would survive.

The family was eventually air lifted to safety via helicopter, but their dog, Lizzy, also had to be left behind.

“I put it inside the truck, one of the firemen told me he was going to take care of it,” Tamayo said.

Thankfully, the dog survived, and on Tuesday morning, the two horses miraculously showed up at Tamayo’s homestead unscathed by the deadly flames... READ MORE
Published in Articles
Monday, 11 September 2017 10:05

8 Horses Riding out Storm in Living Room

Eight horses are riding out the the storm in Palm Beach inside of a living room. 

Horses that Help shared the footage on Facebook explaining the situation and reasoning for moving them inside. It's been shared more than 48,000 times.

Horses that Help is a non-profit group that helps children with special needs and children that are at risk. 

To find out more about the organization, visit horsesthathelp.org.http://horsesthathelp.org
Published in Articles

Police are investigating after 21 horses belonging to The Household Cavalry were let out of their field, causing “absolute carnage” on a nearby road.

The horses, which were resting from their duties with the Queen's Life Guard, bolted when they were released from the RAVC Defence Animal Training Regiment in Melton Mowbray, Leics.

They were reportedly seen being chased by three people on motorbikes, beeping their horns and revving engines.

Several were hit by vehicles as they cantered up to six miles away from the base, before all were eventually rounded up by members of the public, police and vets using cars and horse boxes.

A woman told how she thought she and her mother would be killed as the horses charged towards their car...READ MORE


Published in Articles
Friday, 19 May 2017 09:44

Rare twin horses born Texas

When Jenny Tucker went to feed her quarter horse Sophie last week, she could tell the fur around her tail had gotten softer. Though her belly was still small, she had a feeling the 12-year-old mare would give birth that night. She was showing all the signs.

Tucker went to sleep before midnight. Her husband Landry stayed up and checked out the window periodically to see how Sophie was holding up. Somewhere around 11 p.m., he spotted a small newborn foal lying beside his mother by a fence post in the yard. He screamed to Jenny, “She had it!”

Before his wife was able to throw on her clothes and run to the lawn, he yelled back, “She had two!”

Bonnie and Clyde, twin quarter horses, were born before midnight on May 11 on the Tucker’s farm in Bastrop County — a rare occurrence since only about 1 in 10,000 twin foals survive to term... READ MORE


Published in Articles

With so many horses on Game of Thrones, it's inevitable that one of the biggest challenges for the actors while filming their scenes is dealing with horses being, well, horses.

Since horses have been domesticated throughout the known world and used for various things throughout the series, they play a big role in both on-screen and off-screen drama. On a recent appearance on The Graham Norton Show, Gemma Whelan, the actress who plays Yara Greyjoy, shared one of those stories.

Whelan's story isn't quite as dramatic as the one Kit Harrington told about filming the giant cavalry charge scene in Season 6's "Battle of the Bastards," though.

For that scene, 80 horses had to act in to capture the massive battle. Harrington, who plays Jon Snow, described filming the scene as "very scary."

He said it was the largest number of horses ever used in a TV battle, and joked,

“We were a bit annoyed because everyone is going to think it was CGI, and it wasn’t!”

There was some CGI, however, as the horses couldn't collide or be punched by giants in real life. The Devil’s Horsemen, the company who provides the horses for the show, specializes in providing horses and stuntmen for TV and movies... READ MORE


Published in Articles
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