(Tucker gives his opinion on ignorant horse owners!)
The movie Parenthood is a favorite of mine. Not only does it boast a great cast, but it was filmed here in Winter Park and Orlando. There is a great line in the movie, that to paraphrase, goes something along the lines that "unfortunately, they don't require parents to get licensed". In other words, anybody can be a parent. The same holds true with horse ownership (yes, I know, replace horse with any animal..dog, cat, rabbit, etc...but this is an article about horses!). Unfortunately, as we all know, there are people who should not own horses. We encounter them all the time, I am sad to say.
For example, at a pony club rally...the last place on earth I would expect to see an example of poor horsemanship, a boy presented a skinny horse for the vet jog. This horse desperately needed some groceries. When questioned about the weight, giving him the benefit of the doubt, afterall, the horse was older (not that that justifies a skinny horse), the parents, who were watching the jog chimed in that they were trying to cut back on expenses! Seriously? You are cutting back expenses so you don't feed your horses as much? Yet you have the audacity to spend money to come to a rally? I was reeling all weekend over this.
I am always a little surprised when I encounter a clueless horse owner. Yes, even after being involved in horse rescues. Afterall, horses are expensive! They consume time and money. I do not take horse ownership lightly. I read all I can. I keep up to date with the latest news in my chosen discipline, in horse care, vet care, nutrition and more. I work solely to support my horses and I do not want to waste any money on unnecessary vet bills, feed, supplements, or tack, because I did not do my part to make sure I was knowledgeable.
For instance, based on latest research, did you know that you should not be deworming your horse every 8 weeks? Our dewormers are fast becoming ineffective and instead, we need to be relying on fecal counts and deworming only when necessary!
This is information that is not only in magazines like Equus, but it is available on line, at such sites as The Horse and the Chronicle of the Horse!
So I am always a bit baffled by horse owners who don't properly care for their horses. They don't feed them proper nutrition, subscribe to wacko training methods, purchase ill fitting tack, don't learn how to properly warm up and cool down, and so on and so on.
We all have stories of idiot horse owners. The owner who over bits their horse; jumps a 3' fence the first day back after the horse has been rehabbing for 6 weeks due to an injury; the owner who doesn't know how to properly apply polo wraps, leaving them sagging and twisting. And those examples are from the same owner and horse!
My new barn neighbors are not only clueless, but downright dangerous. They have a 2 year old colt. Of course, he lives with a mare, who is now in foal. The property is small, and of course, they turn them out in a small paddock, which shares my fence line. I have put up hot wire 8 feet in from my fence line, so there is 9 feet between the horses. Of course, the owner tells me that her colt is so sweet and well behaved! It's ok that you have a mare. He won't mind! Of course, the first night that mine are turned out in the adjoining pasture, her sweet colt paces the fence line the entire time. A few days ago, a new horse joins her two. She has the smaller paddock divided from the bigger (now their property is maybe an acre, so we are talking small parcels) paddock by round panel fencing, that she has reinforced with posts in the ground. Which I totally don't get. I mean, if you are going to put posts in the ground, why not put up fence boards, that cost about $7-8? Why spend about $40-50 per panel? I just don't get it. The first night, her colt and mare are in the small paddock... of course, why not put the colt next to my mare? Soon, he starts attacking the round panel fencing, trying to get to the new horse. Then, he starts charging my fence line. Soon, I realize why the sudden aggressiveness. The new horse is also a colt! My guess, is he is about a year-year and a half. The older colt is so upset and out of control, that we move my horses to the other pasture. This is an accident waiting to happen, and I don't want my horses to be blamed for having any part. Sure enough, the next morning, half of the round panels are half down, despite having posts in the ground for support! I don't know how her horses fared, but the poor colt must have spent all night and all his energy trying to attack the new colt. By that evening, the fence panels were put back up and the horses were returned to their former turnouts.
I have left my horses in the other field!
In todays age of technology, there is no excuse not to expand your knowledge base and learn what is best for your horse. Magazine subscriptions and riding lessons are expensive, but there is so much free information out there on the web...of course, alot of it falls under the ludicrous category and we have to be smart enough to decipher it and use our common sense. Go to big competitions. Watch the pros warm up their horses. Watch how they care for their horses afterwards. Talk to them...in the the eventing world, just about everybody is approachable and they love to help out one another. Ask about nutrition. Talk to your vet. Talk to your farrier. Talk to your feed store owner. Become an educated and informed horse owner! There really is no excuse for ignorance.