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Is it acceptable to ...

9 replies

Tillyboo · 28/08/2013 21:55

Hit a young pony in the side/ belly because he's resistent in picking his feet up (on concrete) ?

By a member an experienced member of school staff ? I'm upset
a) because in my book it's abuse
b) it was done out of temper in front of children

What do I do ? Should I say something ? He's on loan to a client at the school too

OP posts:
SimLondon · 28/08/2013 22:29

hopefully more experienced horsepeople will post - but personally i don't think that hitting a horse in its side will teach it to pick its feet up - that seems like frustration coming out on the part of the handler but without witnessing first-hand its difficult, for instance - did the horse go to lean on the handler when she tried to pick its feet up, if a horse weighing 10x what i weigh was about to sit on me then i would very assertively be wanting it to move out of my personal space, but if it just wouldn't pick its feet up then no, i wouldn't think it warrents hitting.

bronya · 28/08/2013 22:49

People do hit horses, both in the normal day to day handling of them (kicking a horse to go faster is quite bruise-worthy, booted foot rather than hand - then think about the use of whips!!), as a light tap to discourage something, or harder as a reprimand. Horses deal with each other in a similar manner so it's something they understand. In the horse world there's plenty of warning before violence, but it's there - from patches of missing fur to bite marks, lameness-causing bruising and broken legs in worst case.

It is something a horse person must use wisely, as it is easy to lose an animal's trust, and never out of anger. Always ensure the horse understands the request, ask nicely, then a little harder, then insist. Hoof picking out needs doing for the horse's well-being.

If you think hitting a horse (once, with the hand) is abuse, then make sure your child never kicks, or uses a whip. I prefer to use the threat of violence rather than the actual thing (as horses do), but that takes practice and conviction on the part of the human threatening it. To me, abuse is hitting where the animal never understood what was wanted in the first place, hitting multiple times in anger, harsh riding (bouncing around on the pony's back, kicking again and again, yanking the pony in the mouth), riding a horse that is lame or in discomfort in any way.

belatedmaybe · 28/08/2013 22:54

How young, how hard, how did the pony react?

If he was being ridden then he should have been used to picking his feet up for years so was possibly trying it on/misbehaving. If he didn't react much then it is unlikely he was hit particularly hard, certainly not enough to upset him anyway.

Personally I am not a fan of hitting/slapping but it is true that ponies and horses can misbehave and occasionally need a reminder. It is open to discussion what form that reminder should take.

Overall I would say if the pony didn't react in fear then it was within "acceptable" limits.

Booboostoo · 28/08/2013 23:05

What was the pony hit with? If the pony was hit with an open palm or nudged with an elbow I think that is fine and more of a 'oi pay attention to what I am asking here' than major corporal punishment. However no one should hit in a temper, if an animal needs this kind of reminded it should be done calmly and as part of its training, not to express frustration (although if he/she used his/her hand he/she is likely to be in more pain than the pony!).

PoshPenny · 29/08/2013 15:36

In my book, NO. If the horse had bitten or kicked first,then that is slightly different, some people do this though because they seem to think it makes them look good :( I can't remember when I last had to physically discipline one of mine, I'd like to think we have a relationship based on mutual respect with a bit of affection somewhere in the mix LOL. Mine are generally very good behaviour wise

SaggyOldClothCatPuss · 30/08/2013 22:21

It depends entirely on the situation. Ducky is an old sod, who loves to wind you up. She will lean her full weight on the foot you want. Its fun for a while, but when it gets annoying, a slap on the ribs will remind her that enough is enough. Its not a painful slap, its a flat handed noise making slap. We love her to death, but she is a cantankerous old git! Grin
I don't think its necessarily bad, like I said, each one is different. I also think that angry hitting is not on, but in terms of a horses skin/pain threshold, a flat slap wont do much harm.

Littlebigbum · 30/08/2013 23:06

Tilly if you still feel the same then yes you should have a quiet word with the Yard manger/boss/owner. Just remember they didn't see it and no one wants it to be your word against hers.

SlowlorisIncognito · 31/08/2013 19:34

How young is the pony, and what and where was he hit with? What do you mean by being resistant? Did it cause the pony and fear, distress or discomfort? How did you know it was done out of temper?

In my view it is not abuse to reprimand a pony with a light tap, with an open hand, especially if they are behaving in a dangerous way (and if he was waving a front leg around, for example, that can be dangerous). Horses do kick each other much harder than we could ever hit them. Legally, it would only be abusive if she caused the pony fear/distress or lasting discomfort and pain (by lasting I mean lasting past the initial sting of a slap). If you believe this to be the case then that is different and you should have a word with the yard owner.

Hitting out of temper is wrong, but working in a riding school can be really frustrating at times, and it's not always easy for senior staff to get a few minutes to cool down if they are feeling stressed. Perhaps in the future it might be better to offer to step in and help, rather than watching and judging. If you're not experienced enough to do this, then you're probably not well placed to judge if the remprimand was necessary.

I do think having a lot of children watching someone deal with a young horse is not ideal for lots of reasons though.

If you have real concerns, then by all means speak to the yard owner, but please do bear in mind most people do use positive punishment when dealing with horses, due to their size and potential to be dangerous. This is not the worst you will ever see in the horse world.

Tuppenceinred · 02/09/2013 20:02

Fortunately I'm in a world where my trainers never need to give horses slaps or shout at them. I'm not a clicker trainer by the way. There are much better ways to deal with a pony that is reluctant to pick up feet, and it's a shame this person couldn't have shown a better example to children.

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