Montag, 3. Februar 2020

Im Namen der Schönheit...

Am Samstag, 1. Feb. 2020, begann meine Zeit im Mastery Program von Pat Parelli etwas ungewöhnlich - wir fuhren zur "Draft Horse Show" im Florida Horse Park. Das war spektakulär, aber auch unglaublich traurig.


Wenn ich an Zugpferde denke, dann in erster Linie an schwere Arbeitspferde, die in der Land- und Forstwirtschaft eingesetzt werden. Hier aber werden diese Riesen vor Kutschen präsentiert, und das auf eine Art und Weise, die den Kommentator immer wieder zu Begeisterungsstürmen hingerissen hat, wie SCHÖN nicht diese Darstellungen wären. Schaut man sich jedoch die Pferde mit dem Hintergrund an, wie es ihnen dabei wohl geht, dann ist das Bild deutlich weniger schön.

Die Hufe werden mit RIESIGEN Tellereisen, die 4-6 kg wiegen, noch grösser gemacht, als gesund sein kann - ich vermute mal um die spektakuläre Beinaktion zu erzwingen (die hier abgebildeten Hufe waren noch die harmloseren Beispiele). Viele der Pferde sind innen an den Beinen verletzt, diese Verletzungen werden vor dem Auftritt noch rasch mit Farbe überpinselt, sodass es beim schnellen Draufsehen nicht auffällt.


Die Köpfe werden in eine absolut unnatürlich hohe Kopfhaltung gezwungen - nicht nur bei der Vorbereitung, sondern auch vor dem Wagen mit Hilfe von Aufsetzzügeln, die nicht nur auf das normale Gebiss einwirken, sondern zusätzlich noch ein eigenes, sehr schmales Gebiss verwenden, das die Maulwinkel hochzieht. Das Ergebnis sind schlabbernde Zungen oder Lippen, überschäumende Mäuler, nervöses Knirschen mit den Zähnen.
Selbst in den Ruhepausen sind die Pferde nicht in der Lage, den Kopf tiefer zu nehmen, um die Muskulatur zu entspannen. Also fangen sie an, ihre Köpfe nach oben hin zu schütteln, sobald sie stehen. Um das zu verhindern, springen dann rasch Helfer herbei und halten sie fest, oder je nachdem werden auch Klapser auf die Nasen verteilt...
Der oben abgebildete Clydesdale, der mit dieser Behandlung nicht happy war, hat so fest geschüttelt, dass ein Teil des Lederzeugs gebrochen ist. Anschliessend wurde er immer unruhiger und ist 2x gestiegen, sodass der Kutscher gezwungen war, das Gespann in Bewegung zu setzen. 


Entspannung ist nicht erwünscht, es geht um Action und Power. Die Gespanne traben um den Ring, irgendwann heisst es dann "zum Schritt parieren" - aber kein einziges der Pferde geht tatsächlich Schritt, sie alle traben ganz langsam oder zackeln - und nach wenigen Sekunden wird auch schon wieder spektakulär getrabt. 

Am besten hat mir der originale "Stage Coach" gefallen, mit dem zu Zeiten des Wilden Westens die Reisenden quer durch die Prärie gebracht wurden - da dürfen die Pferde auch noch wie Pferde ausschauen, nicht wie irgendwelche Spielzeugkarussellfiguren. Zum Vergleich seht ihr in den folgenden Videos den 2. bzw den Gewinner der 6-Spänner ausfahren, und anschliessend den Stage Coach.
 
 

Es heisst ja, Schönheit muss leiden - aber man sollte sich fragen, ob uns anvertraute Tiere wegen unserem fragwürdigen Begriff von Schönheit leiden müssen?

Dienstag, 1. August 2017

Rocky Mountain Cow Camp Adventure (in English)

In 1991, I spent 5 months as a working student in a dressage barn in California. During that time, I got to watch the movie "City Slickers", and since then I've dreamed of participating in a cattle drive. Finally, 26 years later, this dream turned into reality - and it was not just a cattle drive, it was THE Rocky Mountain Cow Camp Adventure, led by the Master of Natural Horsemanship, Pat Parelli himself :-)

The first two days we spent on the beautiful Parelli Campus in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, familiarizing ourselves with our horses, the terrain and cattle work. There is an own science to handling cattle and riding cutting horses, so it was very helpful to have those two days of preparation for us 'greenhorns'. 


Breakfast among real Cowboys
On Wednesday morning, we loaded the trailers and headed out to camp, which was somewhere in the San Juan National Forest, off the little town of Dolores. 3 days in the wilderness, with no phone or internet, but yet much more luxurious than I had expected it to be - we had comfortable trailers for sleeping, pens had been set up for the horses, and the very best cooks you could imagine - they were masters of Dutch Oven cooking - treated us to wonderful food out in nowhere! Lesa did an awesome job in organizing the whole event, and she put effort into every little detail.



Anyway, we did not even get to camp right away, we stopped on some dusty road amd unloaded the horses. We had to ride in a long line and find the cattle, gather them from a huge area dense with vegetation and bushes. It was hard not to loose orientation, so when I followed some cows on their trail, suddenly I found myself alone in the wood, with noone else in sight! Not wanting to get lost on the first day, I let go of the cows and turned to find the other riders, which were thankfully not too far away :-)

Twice we went into these woods to bring the cattle out to the road, the second time we had to navigate a steep cliff that cut off the way the cattle had taken. Finally, we moved the herd into a pasture where they would spend the night. The next day, we drove the herd to Beaver Creek Corral, a historic roundup site. There, those with the wrong brands had to be sorted out, they went back to the pasture the next day.

We did it - the cows at their new pasture
After some roping lessons from Pat, one calf had to be branded and castrated, then we moved the herd to their final destination - a new pasture area further up the mountains. We moved them through dense forest again, the woods being so different from what I know in Europe. I especially love the smell of the pine trees and the wide lay of the land - although we were high in the mountains, it still had this wide openness to it, simply majestic :-)

From the final destination of the cows, we rode a wonderful trail back to camp, past the old farmhouse and through wide meadows. Then we had to load the horses and our stuff back into the trailers, had a quick late lunch and just as we drove out of camp, the rain started - which had spared us during our whole event :-)

Crowned by Pat's invitation to dinner, the whole week was a wonderful experience, not always easy, but very rewarding! I made wonderful new friends, learned a lot about cattle and horsemanship, and got to do the 'real deal' cattle drive I had so long dreamed of :-)

Thank you Pat and everyone else involved!

Samstag, 18. Februar 2017

Rückblick Workshop "7 Spiele im Gelände"


Kursteilnehmerinnen
Im September fand in Aesch nicht nur ein Playday, sondern auch ein Tagesworkshop "7 Spiele im Gelände" statt.

Stangensalat


seitwärts an Baumstämmen vorbei
Ziel des Workshops war es, die Kreativität mit Geländehindernissen anzuregen, sowie mehr Sicherheit für Mensch und Pferd zu erreichen - Pferde die mitdenken statt mit Fluchtreflex reagieren. Im Gelände können wir auf alle möglichen Hindernisse treffen, wie Wasser, Gräben, Baumstämme, wedelnde Plastikteile, die irgendwo hängengeblieben sind, Auf- und Abstiege und vieles mehr. Je besser wir uns und unsere Pferde auf solche Situationen vorbereiten, desto entspannter können wir dann im Ernstfall sein.
entspanntes Zirkeln

Abstieg zum Teich
Touch It mit den Beinen
Vorderbeine sind schon mal drin im Teich
Wir begannen mit Znüni und einer kurzen Theorieeinheit im Vereinshüttli. Anschliessend spielten die Teilnehmerinnen mit ihren Pferden die verschiedenen Hindernisse durch. Nach einem gemütlichen Mittagessen entschieden alle Teilnehmerinnen, am Nachmittag weiter am Boden zu spielen. Wir übten den kontrollierten Notfall (controlled catastrophe) - was tun, wenn etwas Unerwartetes aus dem Gebüsch springt bzw. Geräusche verursacht? Das ist eine sehr wertvolle Übung, und alle Paare konnten nach wenigen Wiederholungen der "Gefahr" ganz gelassen begegnen.

es geht sogar rückwärts in Wasser

Abschlussbesprechung
Zum Abschluss wiederholten wir kurz die Highlights und Aha-Erlebnisse, um sie nochmals ins Gedächtnis zu rufen. Alle waren zufrieden und trotz des nachmittäglichen Regens hatten wir wieder einmal einen tollen Tag am Löhrenacker :-)

Samstag, 10. Dezember 2016

Review vom Jungpferdestart (Englisch, publiziert im Savvy Times Annual Magazine)



Early this year, I spent 2 wonderful and very rewarding weeks at the Florida Campus, escaping the European winter while learning a lot. I attended the Parelli Colt Start, taught by a great group of Parelli Professionals and supervised by Pat himself. Carol Coppinger was our lead instructor, assisted by John Baar, Jesse Peters, Jake Biernbaum (at times) and Tiffany Rowe. They all did a fabulous job, supporting us while keeping us safe :-) Tiffany worked her tail off, capturing the moments with her camera and providing us and the horse owners with great pictures and videos. Huge thanks to all of you!

Speaking of 'us', I refer to the participants, a great group of likeminded students (mostly Parelli Professionals) from all over the world - Europe, Australia, and North America. The Colts were a very interesting mixture, we had everything from tiny pony, a little stallion, wild ranch horses that couldn't even be caught on the first day to privately owned colts that already knew a lot, some trailered from as far off as New York or Texas just for the Colt Start.

The course started with an Introduction on Sunday after the Check In, where Pat explained to the horse owners what would be happening during the next 2 weeks. It was clear that it was not easy for them to leave their 'babies' with us, but trusted that they would receive the best possible start into their life as saddle horses. Thanks for your trust!

Playing with obstacles and saddle
The Course Curriculum followed the Colt Start Skeleton: The first 4 days we spent with taming some of the ranch horses, and 1. accepting the human and 2. accepting the saddle. We played with several different horses per day, swapping them through and thus exposing us (and them) to various styles, horsenalities (and humanalities). It was very interesting to learn to find out quickly what the horse needed most at that moment, and filling in those gaps. We played with all kinds of obstacles, including water, to expose the horses to as much experiences as possible, preparing them for what they might encounter in the human world. By the end of those four days, all the horses wore bareback pads without any issue, and we were able to jump up and even sit on them bareback. To measure the progress, we filled in reports for each horse, evaluating them in differnet areas, eg approachability, haltering, etc (that list got longer as we progressed through the skeleton). Then the horses got a day off, to allow them to soak on those things they had learned. 

Asking for permission to mount
After that, each of us got a horse assigned, to take it through the skeleton up to 3. accept the rider and 4. accept the bit. I got one of the ranch horses, number 54, one of the two wild ones that had arrived on Monday. It was a truly amazing experience for me, seeing her progress from being wild and hard to catch on Monday, to putting the first ride on her not even a week later, on Saturday. And it all went very smoothly, the time invested into preparing her for the pad, the cinch, the saddle and finally the rider truly paying off. We had established a routine of saddling the horses and turning them loose as a group in the big round pens, so they got to move around in a herd with the saddle on, which helped them accept it pretty fast. This also gave us an opportunity to see what each horse was apt to do.


2nd ride
 On the day of the first ride, Pat surprised us by telling us to let the saddled horses loose on the big playground. It was a great sight, the herd of 22 colts cantering around the pond and the playground, wearing their saddles like pros. After that, Pat asked each of us about our confidence getting onto our horse, and split us into different groups accordingly. Then came the big moment - stepping up and down in the stirrups a couple of times (we had already done that the day before), and finally mounting. Then bending, and moving the feet with leading rein starts, one at a time. My little 54 was introverted, so it felt quite sticky in the beginning. As next step, John helped us move our horses into trotting around the roundpen, so we could be passengers on their backs. And then - big surprise - John opened the gate and led us out into the big playground, offering the horses somewhere to go instead of circling. That was truly amazing, but it felt very natural thanks to the preparatory exercise of them cantering as a herd. And the surprises continued, because on the 3rd ride, we already herded cattle! Another WOW experience :-)

On day 10, the horses had another day off to lick and chew. For the remaining 4 days, each of us got a new horse assigned, with view to preparation for the handover back to their owners. My little horse Remedy was very sweet, riding her was a dream and I had a great couple of days having fun with her on the playground :-) Still watching out for those gaps to be filled - like helping her thinking down to her feet, instead of rushing over things like pedestals and logs. Also trailer loading into all kinds of different trailers, so loading the horses for their trip home would be easy.


Handover day
And finally the big day arrived - handover back to the owners. We demonstrated to them what their colts had learned in those 14 days, and all of them were pleased and impressed with the results :-) After a nice pizza lunch together the horses left, and we received our individual assessments and had to say our good-byes.

The Colt Start was a huge learning experience, and I certainly became much more aware of GREAT preparation, how important it is to find and fill the holes in the foundation. This is what keeps us safe, allows us and the horses to enjoy the progress and makes it look easy and effortless :-) There's nothing like knowing you will be the FIRST human on that colt's back, to make you want to make sure he or she is so well prepared that he/she won't feel the need to buck you off ;-) As Pat says - the start isn't something, it's EVERYTHING!


Author: Silvia Aigner, 2 Star Parelli Instructor