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Discussing: Middle-earth veterinary care

Middle-earth veterinary care

This is kind of a strange question..... Horsepeople (or anyone) maybe can help...

A lot of treatments for equine injuries that we do now, which require little modern technology (i.e. not colic surgery or ultrasounding suspensory injuries ), could theoretically be done in Middle-earth. Things like stitches, lancing absesses, setting broken bones, etc. would be doable at least with people. However, most of what I have described cannot be done with horses unless you have the animal sedated. You'd get killed attempting to stitch up a non-sedated horse, and I imagine even an Elf or Aragorn would have the same problem. Obviously in Middle-earth they do not have neat drugs like Ketamine and Rozerpine and other equine tranquilizers and sedatives, but as I know nothing of herbs or of pre-Twentieth Century medicine, I ask if there is anything in Middle-earth that could be used as a sedative on a horse. Or can I safetly assume that if the horse could not be treated un-sedated, it was left to either heal on its own or was history if its wounds were severe enough? Which I imagine was the state of veterinary care here prior to the miracles of modern medicine.

 

 

Re: Middle-earth veterinary care

Hi Gypsum!

Oh, if I had a nickel for every wound I've treated on my horses....

This is a good question. I work for an equine veterinarian and believe it or not, we've actually discussed this before. First, horses have a very VERY good knack of healing (which is good, because like any good horse owner, I know horses can be, on occasion, incredible bone-heads! Oh the stories I could tell you...) *ahem* (getting back on the subject) I would imagine a wound would've been left to heal on its own. Nasty wounds that didn't kill the animal or cripple it, would probably leave an asthetically ugly scar, but the animal would be no worse for wear. Crippling wounds would be, for example, a wound over a joint area on the leg and involved excessive internal scar tissue, or a wound directly in the joint resulting in a joint infection. I would imagine if the wound was severe enough, the rider/horse person would put the animal out of it's misery right off.

I've seen many nasty wounds come through our clinic, and am amazed how the animals healed up. We had a horse one time that laid a foot and a half section of her chest wide open. Because it was such a high movement area, stitches wouldn't have held so we left it open, and confined her to a stall. Granted, she was on antibiotics, but even so, she healed up with a long, thin scar on her chest which was barely noticible.

Broken bones in horses are HIGHLY complicated to treat, and even with modern medicine have inconsistent success and many times, especially with the lower leg, have a very poor prognosis. I would say they didnt' treat broken bones in horses in M-e, but put the animal down immediately. This, of course, would be in the case of obvious breaks, because without xray, a minor or hairline fracture, in most cases, wouldn't be seen as more than the horse being tender and lame.

There are other forms of restraint that can be used besides chemical restraint, such as a twitch or other physical restraints that were, and in some cases are, still in common practice. Such examples would be lip or ear twitches (which, I would like to stress, aren't inhumane, but rather have an effect on the animal that is simular to shining a flashlight in a frog's eyes, the animal quiets and is more apt to stand still. ) I'm not fond of ear twitches, but have used a lip twitch many times. I don't know of any naturally occurring sedatives, but I'm not much up on my herbal lore.

Since the people of M-e knew the benefits of bandaging wounds in humans, I would guess the same could possibly apply to horses, especially in leg wounds. I could see a simple clean wrap, and the horse confined to a small pen or standing stall. (Stalls like the ones in Edoras in The Two Towers movie)

Just an FYI about suturing a horse. My boss always blocks the area to be stitched with a local anesthesia in addition to sedating the horse. Even through the sedation, the stitches hurt, and he believes they stand quieter if they cant feel it.

That's probably WAY more than you wanted to know...but I can get a bit wordy at times.

Any other questions? Ask away! I'll be away from the computer this weekend, but will be back sunday night.
Cheryl

 

 

Re: Middle-earth veterinary care

Cheryl, Am I correct in thinking that for the most part, stitches are used in order to minimize the scarring? -and that without modern antibiotics, you probably wouldn't want to close the wound. (??) another thought (question) about stitches, I believe there is a narrow window of oppurtunity with a fresh wound that stitches 'work'. IOW, the edges of the skin dies quickly once it is pulled loose, also large areas, like the chest injury mentioned below.

I know the deeper cuts I've treated, some I've been told to keep them open (basically pick the scab) so they will heal from the inside out and not trap infection inside by healing over the top first.

We had a filly here with the kind of chest wound you are talking about, the skin almost completely removed from her chest and a hole ripped out of the meat big enough to stick your fist in. - I don't know if she could have healed without antibiotics, but the skin died and the stitches ripped out and left a huge gaping wound in the second(?) week of treatment, and she still eventually healed with only a thin line of a scar. amazing.

 

 

Re: Middle-earth veterinary care

Cheryl, Am I correct in thinking that for the most part, stitches are used in order to minimize the scarring? -and that without modern antibiotics, you probably wouldn't want to close the wound. (??)

You are correct on both accounts. Stitches really are to minimize scarring in most cases...and most of the time, you wouldn't want to close the wound without administering antibiotics. When used together, stitches and antibiotics not only wil usually make the scar more asthetically pleasing in the end, but will make the wound heal faster. (which is usually directly related to minimizing scarring)

another thought (question) about stitches, I believe there is a narrow window of oppurtunity with a fresh wound that stitches 'work'

Yes, my boss wont suture a wound older than 6 hours. He says it doesn't usually work after that. If the wound is older, he'll clean it, debride it, bandage it and put the animal on antibiotics. I could see everything but the latter theoretically being done by experienced horsemen in M-e...if the horse would allow it with or without restraint. I've done this before, and with adequate care, primarily a close attention to cleanliness, the wound takes care of itself.

We had a filly here with the kind of chest wound you are talking about, the skin almost completely removed from her chest and a hole ripped out of the meat big enough to stick your fist in. - I don't know if she could have healed without antibiotics, but the skin died and the stitches ripped out and left a huge gaping wound in the second(?) week of treatment, and she still eventually healed with only a thin line of a scar. amazing.

You'd be amazed how horses can heal without antibiotics in a lot cases, but, because of infection, the healing process is delayed which often results in more pronounced scarring. That's why I see horses in M-e that survive nasty wounds would probably have pretty noticible scars. I'm not saying they always survive, infection would be a major threat, but simple cleanliness goes a long way
Cheryl

 

 

Re: Middle-earth veterinary care

I believe there is a narrow window of oppurtunity with a fresh wound that stitches 'work'. IOW, the edges of the skin dies quickly once it is pulled loose, also large areas, like the chest injury mentioned below. I know the deeper cuts I've treated, some I've been told to keep them open (basically pick the scab) so they will heal from the inside out and not trap infection inside by healing over the top first. I don't know much about horses, but the issues about wounds I can answer. You can close a wound that is too old, and it may work in that the skin will come together, and heal in proportion of the cases, but the risks of infection rise tremendously. In people, 8 to 12 hours is considered maximum except for face wounds, and on hands or feet 8 hours is a better guide than 12. Stitching the skin does a few things: it will heal faster, it will heal with better appearance, and, if done rapidly and in the right circumstances, it will minimize risks of infection. With the deeper wounds, especially if contaminated, the risk of infection is high. For muscle tears stitching it together may mean the muscle will heal and work normally or near normally, while otherwise the limb would be left weaker. (All of this is in people, but I think much would apply to horses as well.) As Cheryl said, simple cleanliness is key. If you are going to have someone stitch something in the story, have the healer wash out the wound well with lots of clean water - one of the most important parts! Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Middle-earth veterinary care

Duh. Twitches. Didn't think of that as the last horse I tried to twitch -- which wasn't mine, for which I was grateful -- would have none of it.

Given that they probably do not have local anesthesia in Middle-earth, are there naturally occuring things you could use for such a purpose, or is it your best bet to either twitch the horse and pray or clean the wound as best you can and hope it heals?

Also, what kind of diagnostic abilities do you think Middle-earth has? A lame horse we can now can diagnose with suspensory tears, bone spurs, navicular, etc. etc. etc. via radiographs and ultrasound, but can such diagnoses be done without technology, or at least can diagnoses for certain ailments like that be done without technology? There is a certain amount of magic in Middle-earth that did not exist here pre-modern medicine, which I would view as somewhat useful for fixing broken horses.

Or would "give him bute for five days and see if he trots out sound" be translated to "give him athelas for five days and see if he trots out sound?"




 

 

Re: Middle-earth veterinary care

Duh. Twitches.
My *duh* is of the other variety: just what is a twitch in this context?
TIA

~Nessime

 

 

Re: Middle-earth veterinary care

Also, what kind of diagnostic abilities do you think Middle-earth has? A lame horse we can now can diagnose with suspensory tears, bone spurs, navicular, etc. etc. etc. via radiographs and ultrasound, but can such diagnoses be done without technology, or at least can diagnoses for certain ailments like that be done without technology? There is a certain amount of magic in Middle-earth that did not exist here pre-modern medicine, which I would view as somewhat useful for fixing broken horses.

the Great Mother of all healing in regards to lameness issues is time and rest, regardless of diagnoses. Stall rest, or extended pasture turnout, depending on the severity.

soft tissue injuries such as suspensory strains and tears can be diag by watching the horse move, and by feeling of the leg, heat and/or swelling. A navicular horse will be short-strided, and un-weight ('point') the toes when they stand, and can be stumbly. An abcess will show in that a horse will not put pressure to step on that foot at all where other injuries such as a tendon injurie will show *as* the horse weights the leg during the step.

as an aside, you can tell which hoof/leg is sore by watching the horse trot. On a sound horse, the head will be held steady, otherwise it will bob with the strike of the sore limb. up for a front limb, down for a back.

 

 

Re: Middle-earth veterinary care

I think one of the biggest differences between a wound on a person and a wound on a horse (and bear with me, I don't know much about human medicine) is that with the person you can say "okay, now, keep that clean and dry and dont move it around too much or you'll tear the stitches." The communication barrier makes a huge difference in how you treat a horses wound. (Just IMHO)

Given that they probably do not have local anesthesia in Middle-earth, are there naturally occuring things you could use for such a purpose, or is it your best bet to either twitch the horse and pray or clean the wound as best you can and hope it heals?

Perhaps there is something topical that would numb the area? I really don't know about that. I would think in the absence of such a substance, that "do the best you can and leave it to heal" would be what they'd do. I have a hard time imagining, say a Rohirrim stitching horses, again because of the communication barrier. You can't say "okay, this is going to hurt, but you need to stand still." I'd think at least some sort of restraint or some type of naturally ocurring topical anesthesia would be necessary.

I'd imagine lameness problems would result in at least giving the horse some time off. For swollen legs, poultice wraps have been used for centuries, eventhough the poltice medicine themselves have varied. We still use mud wraps and sweat wraps today.

There is a certain amount of magic in Middle-earth that did not exist here pre-modern medicine, which I would view as somewhat useful for fixing broken horses.

Ohh! Now THAT is an interesting idea! *beating off circuling nuzguls* I easily imagine such techniques exist wtih the elves more so than with men. On the other hand "the hands of the King are the hands of a healer"

Or would "give him bute for five days and see if he trots out sound" be translated to "give him athelas for five days and see if he trots out sound?"

LOL! I think, in principle you have the general idea. However, remember that soft tissue injuries can take months to heal and sometimes the healing is never complete. This, of course opens an interesting line of questions as to what was done with horses no longer suitable for work because of injury related chronic lameness. I'd imagine if they were good/valuable stock they'd be useful as breeding stock, but if not? Or if it was a gelding? That's a tough scenario. Sentimentally, we'd like to think they'd just make Middle Earth "pasture ornaments" out of them, but realistically speaking, there is an animal that is doing nothing, but that you'd have to feed and care for. I'm not sure if they'd keep the horse, or if it'd be destroyed. Unfortunately, especially if resources were thin, I think the latter would be true.
Cheryl

 

 

Re: Middle-earth veterinary care

My *duh* is of the other variety: just what is a twitch in this context?

a twitch is a leather strap or a chain that is attached in a loop to a short pole, like a hammer handle. You take the end of the horses muzzle (upper lip) and pull it thru the loop and twist the loop putting pressure on the end of the nose. You tighten it until the horse quits fighting. There are several ways to get this effect, one is by the ear, which I agree is my least favorite, and I've seen people able to grab the skin over the shoulderbone, but I've never been able to do that.

It sounds and looks very cruel, but does essentially tranquilize the horse and most people only use it in appropriate situations.

 

 

Re: Middle-earth veterinary care

My *duh* is of the other variety: just what is a twitch in this context?

LOL, no *duh* required A twitch is a method of restraint where the upper lip of the horse is pinched/twisted with gentle steady pressure. If I remember correctly, *digging into my musty memory* It causes a release of endorphins (?) which have a calming effect on the horse. Indeed in most cases, once the twitch is on, the horse in a matter of a minute or so, visibly relaxes and stands, almost in a trance like state. Of course they don't always work, and it varies from individual to individual how much they relax, but I've seen them work to a decent extent, more often than not. They vary in style from a metal nose clamp, to a rope attached to an about 3 foot piece of wood. I used one simular to this as a kid. It was a piece of soft rope attached to the end of an old axe handle. (crude, and simple, but effective. )

Of course some people think they're inhumane, but I tend to disagree. There is no hurt to the horse besides a steady pressure to the upper lip. Ear twitches (grab an ear and twist it) are different, IMHO in that I think they make a horse a bit head shy and wary to let you touch their ear, so I won't use one. Horses will eventually see the lip twich coming if they've had it enough and it can get a bit...interesting to get the twitch on, but once it's on, the horse usually quiets down significantly.

I'd rather not twitch a horse, and I try not to. I give the horse every chance to behave, but if it comes down to, for example, either twitch the horse and he gets his penicillin shot, or don't twitch him and he doesn't get the medication he needs, then I wil twitch him, as I see, for his own good. Also, given the size and strength of a horse, I'd rather use a twitch than have him strike or kick me or someone else.

Okay, so that was the long-winded definition.
Cheryl

 

 

Re: Middle-earth veterinary care

On twitches:

I've used them to give horses shots and tube them and pull manes (the latter I last doing and my horse now has a long mane). I would never ear twitch a horse cause that results in an ear-shy horse -- that is, a horse who pulls his head away whenever you try to touch his ears -- but when you twitch the lip, it triggers an acupressure point that releases endorphins, which is why it works. The horse is distracted by the thing on his lip and Cheryl was right, there is en endorphin release. He might get kind of a drugged look in his eye. However, if you have a head-shy horse, you might not ever get that twitch on. He'll be flinging his head around and if he's really bad, rearing and attempting to run away from you.

I had a trainer who had a twitch made of bailing twine looped through the hole at the bottom of a hammer handle. The head of the hammer had been removed. It was the best twitch ever, and light so when a horse flung his head, it would not kill you.

On lameness:

In my experience it is often hard to diagnose what is making a horse lame, which is why I asked. I've seen suspensory injuries look like arthritis in the hock, things that you swore were absesses turn out to be something else, mysterious lameness no vet could diagnose... Vets say the horse was lame on one leg when it was in fact a different leg. But yes, I imagine what you would do, especially if you couldn't radiograph or ultrasound, is give the horse time off, but that does indeed beg the question of what you do with chronically unsound horses in Middle-earth. LOL.

How much do you think they even knew about equine bone and tendon structure? Obviously absesses and other things visible to the naked eye they could figure out. This just occurred to me as I was writing this post and throwing terms about. Could you even have an ME character say, "I think he has navicular?" Would they know what the navicular bone is and why degeneration thereof causes lameness? In severe cases, the horse flinches when you apply pressure to the sole of his foot, but even if that's the case, would they use the word "navicular?" Would they have some other word for it? Or would they differentate that disorder from other disorders at all?

Same holds true for other soundness problems that we have fancy scientific words for in the Twentieth Century. When we see a lame horse with localized puffiness, we can suspect a suspensory tear cause we can see the torn ligament with an ultrasound and have seen a lot of torn ligaments in a lot of horses lame in that way. But if you lived in a world without ultrasound machines, would it even occur to you that the reason why the horse was lame and why his leg was puffy was that he had torn the suspensory? Modern veterinary medicine seems to classify disorders by what you can see on an x-ray or ultrasound, so I would imagine Middle-earth people would classify lameness (or anything else) differently since they would have a very different, and far more restricted, vantage point. Anyone have an opinion?



 

 

Re: Middle-earth veterinary care

even have an ME character say, "I think he has navicular?" Would they know what the navicular bone is and why degeneration thereof causes lameness? In severe cases, the

no, I don't think so, we don't even know that much about it. I have a mare that has been diagnosed as haveing pre-navicular syndrome - what that means is that she has all the mild symptoms of the onset of navicular disease, but no degeneration in the bone, and only mild inflammation in the tendon sheath. Years ago, I had a horse x-rayed -confirmed with degeneration, that returned to 50-100 mile endurance competitions years later with no lameness issues. -so even with the best of what we have, we aren't much better than the guy that stands at the fence and watches the horses run across the field to see which are sound and which are not.

that way. But if you lived in a world without ultrasound machines, would it even occur to you that the reason why the horse was lame and why his leg was puffy was

I would say yes on this one, and not to be squicky, but I'm sure they know what the inside of a horse looks like.

One thing that I think we may be missing is that it doesn't matter so much why the horse is lame if the treatment will be the same - time and rest - or poultice, time and rest -

I missed the question earlier about herbs, and I'm sorry but I don't have any knowledge at all in that area.

 

 

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Years ago, I had a horse x-rayed -confirmed with degeneration, that returned to 50-100 mile endurance competitions years later with no lameness issues. -so even with the best of what we have, we aren't much better than the guy that stands at the fence and watches the horses run across the field to see which are sound and which are not.

Oh, Navicular. My old friend that I lost last September at the ripe old age of 25 (from arthritis in the knees) was diagnosed navicular when he was 6. With proper management, he enjoyed a full life and a very successful show career. I guess where I'm going with this, is that (just to make things totally complicated) different horses can physically and even emotionally to the same lameness issue.

I think this would also play into the diagnosis and especially the treatment of lamness by the men of M-e (Rohirrim especially) who, unless the injury was hopeless, would probably give every horse a chance (with rest and treatment) to recover before any permanent decisions were made.

One thing that I think we may be missing is that it doesn't matter so much why the horse is lame if the treatment will be the same - time and rest - or poultice, time and rest -

I'd agree wholeheartedly here. Sometimes I think, with modern medicine, we try to diagnose too much and treat too little. (not to mention have enough patience to give the horse what he sometimes needs most; TIME) My boss calls it "the client asking him to look into his crystal ball and tell them the horse will be fine." Sometimes you just dont know. Especially with soft tissue injuries. Also, remember that with soft tissue injuries, adequate time off can be from 3-6 months at least, so we're not talking a couple weeks. We're talking substantial time. (Just a little tibit of information there. )

Hmm...it sounds like I'm just agreeing with everyone, so I'll stop rambling.
Cheryl

 

 

Re: Middle-earth veterinary care

My old friend that I lost last September at the ripe old age of 25 (from

{hugs} on your loss - I know thats the kind of friend you never quit missing.

different horses can physically and even emotionally to the same lameness issue.

Yep. The 'Heart', the 'want to', the 'competitive spirit', 'work ethic', whatever you want to call it. - makes a huge difference.

Especially with soft tissue injuries. Also, remember that with soft tissue injuries, adequate time off can be from 3-6 months at least, so we're not talking a couple weeks. We're talking substantial time.

agree again. I rode a colt today that slipped and fell in the mud 11 months ago - he had an apparent minor injury. -no obvious pain, only a slight 'short stride' and 'guarding' of that leg. after 30, then 60 days, vet and chiro agree with a diag of 'large-muscle tear in the hip', that he needed more time off. He still has a slight off step, but he isn't sore, and it doesn't get worse under saddle. ... We rode over two hours today in moderately rough trail. We still don't know *exactly* what the damage was, but he is solid and sound and after a year off is going back to work.

 

 

Re: Middle-earth veterinary care

{hugs} on your loss - I know thats the kind of friend you never quit missing.

Especially when you've had that friend for 21 years. I"ll never forget him, but rest easy knowing I did the right thing by him.

Thanks
Cheryl

 

 

Re: Middle-earth veterinary care


"My old friend that I lost last September at the ripe old age of 25 ..."

*hugs* on your loss.


" Yep. The 'Heart', the 'want to', the 'competitive spirit', 'work ethic', whatever you want to call it. - makes a huge difference."


Yup. I had a horse that would refuse to work when in the slightest bit of pain. After I'd had her for a few years, she started flat-out refusing to canter and would buck when you insisted she canter. So we x-rayed her hocks and found she had the beginning stages of arthritis. No horrible changes, but enough to give her reason to dislike dressage more than she already disliked it, which was quite a lot.

My current horse would work if she had only three legs. And she'll do almost anything you ask, so long as it is clear to her what you want. She should have been a movie horse, she is so trainable.

 

 

Re: Middle-earth veterinary care

Okay... Next question... These keep getting better

Colic. For none horsepeople, that means any abdominal pain in a horse, which can range from mild to fatal, depending on what is causing it.

I am going to hazard a guess that the best you could do in Middle-earth is walk the horse and hope it's a mild colic that will go away on its own. If it's a colic requiring IV fluids, NG tubing, or much less surgery, the horse is history. Anyone disagree?

 

 

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I'm afraid I have to agree with that. A horse would not be able to recover from a twist or most impactions. I've attended colic surgery and can't imagine that would be an option in M-e.

If the caretaker noticed the early signs of pain, the horse could be given herbs for pain relief and there are some massage and accupressure techniques (rubbing the ear tips and I can't remember the other one I've been told). In some cases, the initial (mild) pain causes the horse to become tense and nervous and aggrevate the situtation rather than allowing it to fade. This would be the case, (Cheryl - correct me if I'm wrong) in a gassy colic or 'grass' colic (from fresh spring greens coming up and changing their diet too quickly.).

also - I've been taught that the old standard of walking the horses isn't necessarily best for them as it just tires them out over a prolonged period, that they should be kept comfortable and allowed to rest as long as they aren't trying to roll.

 

 

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Oh, colic. *shudders*. I hate colics. There are definitely things that are known to increase the chance of colic, but mostly, they can be unexpected and many times unexplainable, especially without an autopsy.

I really have to agree with Sulriel in that I can't see the Rohirrim being able to do too much for a colicy horse. Many times, regular impactions (feed lodged in the intestine, stopping any movement through the bowel) can, through pain and dysfunction of the bowel, result in a displacement (twisted gut) which, without surgery, is fatal. However, we've had many horse owners (very experienced ones) that have noticed a horse feeling a little off (not severely painful, but just with a bit of a belly ache) who took away the feed and monitored the horse, and the horse worked through it on it's own. Without a dose of pain medication, though, that is rare.

Sulriel, you're right about pain. In the initial stages of colic (not involving a twisted gut) breaking the pain cycle can be a significant factor in resolving the colic. In fact, the horse's response to pain meds can be a very good indicator as to how grave the situation is. Horses with a twist at the stage where the bowel is just starting to die, will be extremely painful and will only get relief from pain meds for a few minutes at the most. Whereas, horses with an impaction, unless they've had it for a long time and thus very painful, will get much more relief from the pain for much longer. How long? Ugh, there are too many variables to adequately predict that one. Hours usually.

I thought I'd interject a few symptoms of colic, in case you need it. Rolling is the classic sign, but healthy horses roll all the time, they love it. The rolling has to be excessive. One easy way to distinguish innocent rolling from colicy ones is, when the horse stands up, does he shake off? Most of the time horses wth colic will not, whereas almost ALWAYS a healthy horse shakes himself when he stands. My boss taught me that one, and I love it. It's very simple, I'd never noticed it before. Horses with colic can also, kick, paw, strike or bite/look back at their belly. If in a lot of pain, their heartrate will be rapid and they'll probably be sweating and fidgity. Colicy horses can easily strike and kick if a spasm hits them so be very careful to not be directly in front or back of the horse (not that you should be in those zones anyway!! ) A horse with mild colic can be very difficult to detect, and here's where knowing your horse comes into play. The horse could be just a little "off bubble" or "not quite right". Their demeanor is depressed or sullen and they're abmormally quiet. You'd have to know your horse to tell if he's not right.

In addition to causing tension /nervousnes/etc, the pain can initiate the classic rolling reaction, which on it's own can cause a bowel displacement (twist). This is true in all colics, not just grass colic.

As far as walking them,if you're in doubt, my opinion is to go ahead and do it. I've heard the school about not making the horse walk, but there's something to be said about movement and how it stimulates the gut to move. However, my boss' recommendation is if the horse is lying quietly or standing quietly, just leave him be until the veterinarian arrives. If the horse is to the stage in colic where he doesn't want to stand up, or is standing but doesn't want to move, it's best to have him seen by a veterinarian. With colic, it's better to be safe than sorry, because a colicy horse can go from not too serious to grave in a heartbeat. So, since professional help is on the way, just let the horse be for the short time.

Back to M-e. As I said before, I just don't see where the Rohirrim could do much for a colic. They may have some herbal remidies, (again, unfamiliar ground for me) but the problem with that would be getting it into the horse. Colic horses usually aren't too keen on eating anything (or drinking for that matter and dehydration will only worsen the problem). In past centuries, horse people would use a funnel and try to pour fluids into the horse's stomach, but that's difficult, and inconsistently successful at best. If you press your ear to the flank of a horse, you usually can hear gut sounds (gurgles, snaps, etc) so I'd imagine they could listen for gut sounds to confirm suspicions. What you should hear is several quiet sounds, with a loud gurgle every few seconds for a healthy horse. If you don't hear anything at all for over a minute, that's probably very bad. Without a stethoscope, you can't be positive you're hearing (or not hearing) everything.

Without modern medicine, my personal reaction would be alternate between walking the horse and allowing him to stand, try to get him to drink or to take fluids somehow, and see if he could work through it on his own. If the horse was in agony, and not getting better, I'd put him out of his misery. This could only be my perception, but I think the Rohirrim would react simular (at least they would in my little world )

Well, again this is probalby more than you want to know (and oh, the nuzguls all of this talk is spawning) but I hope it helps!
Cheryl

 

 

Re: Middle-earth veterinary care

"but the problem with that would be getting it into the horse. Colic horses usually aren't too keen on eating anything (or drinking for that matter and dehydration will only worsen the problem). In past centuries, horse people would use a funnel and try to pour fluids into the horse's stomach, but that's difficult, and inconsistently successful at best. "

That was going to be my next query. I was going to do research into herbs at some point and see if there is any herbal equivalent of banamine (aka heavy duty painkiller), but do you think they have 60cc syringes in Middle-earth?

I gave it some further thought today and figured they could do a rectal exam on a cooperative and/or twitched horse. I've seen it done without sedation. Not on every horse, but some put up with it sans tranquilizers. Others attempt to kill the vet. I imagine M-e people would know enough about the inside of a horse to be able to identify something amiss via a rectal exam. I know they are not always conclusive -- in all the colics I have seen, they never were, and the vet usually ended up sending the horse to the nearest vet hospital when it stopped responding to Banamine -- but I am sure in many cases they can be.

Obviously if it were an impaction or a twist and they could feel that, there would probably be nothing they could do, other than save themselves and the horse the unhappiness of watching the horse's condition degenerate.

On walking: I was always taught to walk a horse to primarily prevent rolling, but also to increase gut motility. If the horse isn't actively thrashing about, it is not imperative to walk him, but it is a good idea.

 

 

Fighting stallions

Okay, horse folk, can you help me here?

I have owned a horse (a mare) and personally known other mares and geldings. Have never known a stallion IRL, only through reading about them.

In researching horse-keeping, I see that stallions are to be kept in paddocks with lanes between to keep them from fighting over the fence. In no uncertain terms, I am warned not to let two stallions share a fence-line. I am also urged to use fences at least five or six feet high to contain a stallion.

So... I assume all those fictional horse-books I read as a kid about fighting stallions were based in truth? Stallions really do fight?

All right, assuming that, if a stallion somehow gets loose and starts fighting with another: how would horsemen separate the two in Middle Earth? (I know how to separate fighting dogs in the here-and-now. Turn a hose on them, or toss a handful of pepper into their midst and they'll part, sneezing vigorously.)

What kind of injuries (from mild to severe) would result?

Thank you for any and all input.

Your humble servant,
Lin

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

In the United States, domestic stallions for the most part live an isolated life, precluded from contacting other horses, be they geldings, mares, or other stallions. However, wild stallions and domestic tallions in Spain, Iceland, and possibly other countries live in herds of other stallions. The technical name for such a group is a "bachelor band" and it is exactly what it sounds like -- a herd of male horses. In the wild, they usually consist of horses too young or too old to have a band of mares.

When there are mares around, there is a chance that they will fight, but it is not a guaranteed outcome by any means. Not all encounters between stallions turn violent -- for the most part, they don't since there is little value to the horse in suffering severe injury. Prior to a fight the stallions will display to one another, an elaborate dance of rearing, passaging, piaffing, etc., sniff one another's flanks, circling around, which is all an effort to determine who is the stronger horse without actually coming to blows. Most stallion conflicts end this way, with the more submissive horse turning and running.

However, when they do fight, it can be deadly. It is very rare for one stud to actually kill another, but it has been known to happen. Since you have owned horses, you probably know what sort of injuries they can get beating up on one another in the paddock. Since a real stallion fight is more violent than usual herd politics (except for things my mare does, but that is why she no longer gets to be in a herd), you'll see the same stuff, only more so. They can get puncture wounds, lacerations, broken legs, hematomas (sp?), as well as your usual range of milder bites and kicks.

So if one stallion got loose and started fighting with another one, I imagine Middle-earth people, be they Aragorn or Rohirrim or anyone, would do exactly what I would do. Probably stare at the horses and pray to Iluvatar that the horses did not kill or severely injure one another. There is not much else you can do. Going near them would be a very bad idea. I've never seen a stallion fight in real life, but I've seen footage of Mustang stallions fighting, and you would be dead meat if you went within range of hooves and teeth.

The stallions I have known did not live behind six-foot fences, but what fence is a 25-year old Arabian going to jump anyway? But as most horses will not jump a huge fence and there is a fear a stallion will try to jump a smaller fence to get to a mare or another stud, that is why people recommend having them behind huge fences.

I wouldn't know what Middle-earth people did in terms of fencing or isolating studs. Shadowfax was apparently unmanageable and running free across the Riddermark for some time, and I doubt he was gelded. If he got into a fight with another horse, you were really in trouble (unless you were Gandalf) since the horse could not be handled when he wasn't acting studdish. For my newest fic, I am having to work out some of these horse management issues myself. Still working on it.

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

Good question!

Well, in my experience, yes, they will fight, especially if there are mares near by. I've never had two lose together fighting but have seen it over the fence, and have had to reprimand a stallion I was handling for lunging in the direction of another stallion in a pen near by. I didn't think we were passing too close, but apparently he did. I have heard from other horsemen that stallions, like bulls, will live together without fighting, if they've grown up together, or lived together since early in life. I can't vouch for that personally, I haven't tried it.

Breaking up two fighting stallions would be dangerous at best, deadly at worst.

I suppose, and I hope no one thinks this as harsh, but I think a long whip would be a good tool. You would have to use something that could get one or both horse's attention from a safe distance. I'd never get within striking or kicking distance...that's a really good way to get injured or even killed. A whip would allow you to POSSIBLY separate the horses from a safe distance. Any possible method of separating probably would be ineffective while the two horses are locked to each other (either by biting, rearing or striking) but I believe there are "lulls" in the fight where the two separate. This would be the time to try and "whip" one horse back and away from the other. You'd have to have some way to contain one horse from the other, some sort of barrier (corral maybe?) that you could drive one horse into for separation.

It's important to note here that once the horses are separated, a "cooling off" period should be observed. Both animals are agitated, and could still be dangerous. This is just my opinion, but I'd leave them alone and not approach them for at least an hour or two. Better to be safe than sorry with such strong and potentially lethal animals.

In a worst case scenario, where the two horses couldn't be separated, if they're in a wide open area, eventually, one horse will run off (if he's able to). This would effectively end the fight, but is undesireable, because to reach the stage where one horse runs off, there is usually considerable damage done to one or both horses. Also, one horse could be mortally wounded (broken leg, etc) before the "running off" stage, so I'd try not to let the fight go that far if at all possible. But, again, I'm not going to get within striking distance under any circumstances!

Injuries could range from abrasions, cuts and bites to more serious injuries from being struck or kicked. Although, depending on the location, a bite injury could also be serious. Kicks and strikes can result in everything from minor cuts to broken bones, depending on the location and strength of the blow.

That's about all the advice I can offer, I've (thankfully) never encountered that situation before. I'll think on it and if I think of anything else, I'll post it.
Cheryl

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

Hi Lin, I have several stallions here, (three right now). Some can live together some can't. Generally what happens when they get together is that they will fight until one submits. Depending on the time of year (level of testosterone) and proximity of mares, 'submit' may be simply that, lowering the heading, 'snapping' like a baby, etc ... or the Winning stallion, may require the other to stay out of sight. Either behind some trees or building, or over the horizon, depending on the terrain.

Frankly, I've seen some fights and I don't think you could separate them.

Hope this helps. If you want me to look at that snip of your fic, I'll be happy to beta the horse action for you, I might be able to offer better suggestions if I knew exactly what you needed.

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions



Colt Playing Pic

There are a couple of pics here of a younger colt playing with the donkey. I don't have any of them fighting, it is very intense and quick. But I think I have several more of this play session, if it would help you to see them, let me know and I'll try to find them.

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

Thanks! What gorgeous horses! Those pictures make me wish I still had a horse. (Practicality taps me on the shoulder once more... and I reluctantly turn away from the fence with a sigh.)

Yes, I'd love to see more! Thanks again!

p.s. I know what that reminds me of! The mock fights that we often saw whenever we owned two dogs. Fierce looking enough to worry our youngsters, but if anybody really got hurt there'd be a squeal and sudden jumping apart, followed by assiduous apologetic grooming.

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

If you want me to look at that snip of your fic, I'll be happy to beta the horse action for you, I might be able to offer better suggestions if I knew exactly what you needed.

Thanks for the kind offer. I'm afraid it sounds awfully amateurish as it is roughed out now (a result of reading too many "Black Stallion" books, perhaps, which were gripping to read but too long in the past to draw from in addition to being works of fiction and therefore difficult to trust. Perhaps Walter Farley was an experienced horseman, and perhaps he was simply a gifted writer who did a lot of research. Anybody happen to know?), but hopefully you could help with that. I'll try to email it to you this week when I've finished writing that scene.

Wow, if you can follow that rambling paragraph above, my hat's off to you. I really need a cup of tea (signing off to put kettle on).

Lin

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

Thank you, Sulriel, Cheryl, and Gypsum! I have learned a lot.

Hmmm. So separating fighting stallions is not so easy. I suspected that. I guess all those people running out of the stables with pitchforks are just going to kind of stand around helplessly.

The long whip is an idea.

I don't want either stallion badly injured, but I do want to be able to part them before either is seriously injured. Injuries are okay as long as they are recoverable.

Is this a plausible situation, socially: A younger stallion, newly introduced to the stables, proving difficult to manage (he was a gift from a king... what do you do?), put in isolation in a paddock. Somehow he gets loose and attacks the aging prize stallion already in residence. As far as the two were concerned it was "hate at first sight". After a fight the stable-hands manage to separate them. Perhaps injuries might make this more doable.

Would people in ME be able to get ropes around the stallions' necks while they're taking a breather and haul them to separate pens? Or is that "cowboy" thinking?

Huh. Remember how hard it was to catch a horse in a big pasture if it really didn't want to be caught. (Am not a cowboy)

Also remembering mock fights--what do you call it? pecking order? --when putting out hay in the pasture hay-racks. Not a fun thing to be too near to.

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

Haven't read Walter Farley in ages, but I don't recall his descriptions of stallion fights as the most accurate accounts I've read.

One thing to do, if you are at a barn or know of one you can go to where horses are turned out together, is go and watch horses. Geldings and colts will play-fight, which is a slow-motion version of stallions duking it out.

I could also have a look at your ficif you like. It would give me momentary relief from writing about suspending habeas corpus

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

Well, the horses would separate on their own depending on who submitted first. If your paddock is big enough for the horses to gain some distance, the winner would chase the loser for a time until the loser hid in a corner. If the paddock is small, it's harder to separate them since the winner cannot chase the loser far enough, but so long as one is submitting, I think you can separate them. I would not lasso the horse since he will then fight you, but what I would do and have in fact done (here I make the assumption that Middle-earth people have some what we now call "natural horsemanship" skills), is go into the paddock and chase the dominant horse away from the submissive horse and ask him to stand at the far end of the paddock while someone else catches the submissive horse. This would only be smart if you have a SOLID relationship with your horse wherein you are UNQUESTIONABLY the "dominant horse" in the relationship. And also wherein you've done free-lunging work with the horse so he knows what is being asked of him. And depending on the horses, I might go in there armed with a longe whip.

Horses can be pretty oblivious to injury, so that would not necessarily stop them unless they ended up five legged lame or with such deep wounds they were shocky. But you can easily write -- and in fact your writing will be MORE plausible -- about the fight ending before serious injury occurred. Most fights end that way.

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

Would people in ME be able to get ropes around the stallions' necks while they're taking a breather and haul them to separate pens? Or is that "cowboy" thinking?

Well, remember that the fighting horse is about 1250 pounds of angry adrenaline at the moment you rope him. I wouldn't want to try it myself. I can't imagine less than several strong handlers with several ropes to even stand a chance at that. Not my first option, and I'd hate to be the first one that gets a rope on the horse!

Also remembering mock fights--what do you call it? pecking order? --when putting out hay in the pasture hay-racks. Not a fun thing to be too near to.

Yeah, pecking order. It's a natural herd occurance. I've been near to those disputes before, not fun at all. You can easily be a victim of circumstance. I've always had my horses trained that they were NOT to "argue" when I was around, but I still exercise caution when I'm feeding a bunch of lose horses. Of course, it helps if you're the "top horse" in your herd, then the horses respect you and make way when you approach the feeder. I find that they're less likely to fight with each other when you're around too...if they perceive you as alpha.

I know others have already volunteered, but I'd be willing to read what you have too, if you want. If not, that's cool to. Your call.
Cheryl

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

Hmmm. So separating fighting stallions is not so easy. I suspected that. I guess all those people running out of the stables with pitchforks are just going to kind of stand around helplessly.

The long whip is an idea.


Frankly, I would much prefer a shotgun if it is that critical to separate them.

Would people in ME be able to get ropes around the stallions' necks while they're taking a breather and haul them to separate pens? Or is that "cowboy" thinking?

In my experience, they don't take breathers.

Is this a plausible situation, socially: A younger stallion, newly introduced to the stables, proving difficult to manage (he was a gift from a king... what do you do?), put in isolation in a paddock. Somehow he gets loose and attacks the aging prize stallion already in residence. As far as the two were concerned it was "hate at first sight". After a fight the stable-hands manage to separate them. Perhaps injuries might make this more doable.

yes, very realistic and doable, except I don't know how the hands would seperate them. If one horse went down, the hands might be able to beat the other one back, or if one ran, they might be able to keep the other from pursuing him.

I have to apologize about the pics, I can't find the others I thought I had, the two that are on the website are the best ones.

edit: I'm glad you enjoyed the pics. -yes, they are just playing in those, mock fighting.

and I'll second what Gypsum said about them separating thensomeone catching the submitting horse.

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

Frankly, I would much prefer a shotgun if it is that critical to separate them.

LOL, me too...that certainly would end the situation quick enough

I suggested the long whip, however, I have to stress that I've never had experience with how effective it would/would not be. I also want to stress that no horse is worth getting yourself hurt or killed. In my own little world, the Rohirrim would think the same way. While they have a close connection with their horses, they would not die for them. Of course, this might be different for the Mearas, I haven't figured that one out on my own yet. The romantic side of me is getting the better of my rational mind when it comes to Mearas

If it came down to my neck or the horse's, I'd save mine every time. I hope that doesn't come across as cold-hearted, I have always loved my horses dearly! (well, most of them, anyway...)
Cheryl

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

The one time I had to separate two fighting horses, which consisted of my mare attempting to kill another horse we had turned her out with, I just went into the paddock and yelled at the mare to go to the far end of the paddock (I in fact said, "Gypsum, get over there!") and kind of waved a lead rope at her. I cannot attest to the efficacy a long whip or the wisdom doing this with horses less well-trained or crazier than mine.

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

It totally depends on how dedicated the horses are to their fight.

I'm working with one of my young stallions now. He is one I've raised from a foal and we have an ultimate kind of bond. He is absolutely kind and trustworthy if you are not between him and a mare. He is eager to please, loves children, even has his own cat. He does tricks, inc gives kisses, -although he did try to give me some tongue the other day... He is trained to do liberty work and I can do a lot with him with voice commands, including make him cringe back from a mare if he is being overly ambitious.

but

I guarantee I would literally be putting my life on the line to get between him and another stallion. I think you could possibly avert a fight if you could get between them before they started, but I don't think you could separate them.

Most of what you see in the pasture is ritual display, warnings and that sort of thing. If you have never seen a horse in a true fighting fury, it is like a Force of Nature.

The stallion I'm working with now is a little horse., about 14.3hh (just under 60 inches tall at the shoulder) and about 800 lbs. When he rears, he easily 10ft tall, when he strikes or kicks, he has a reach of well over 20ft (from front to back). I absolute cannot imagine getting between two of them going at each other.

I have twice been attacked, once by a stallion that I did beat off with a whip, but he was not serious, he thought he could intimidate me by showing off a little and I was able to change his mind; and another time by a mare who was quite serious, but I, luckily, had an industrial size screwdriver in my hand. I escaped that with only a few bruises and a broken foot, and she still thinks I'm kin to Wolverine - but it is certainly not something I would choose to repeat.

YIKES! I'm rambling again. .. sorry ... didn't mean to get so long.

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

My boss has a wonderful 8 year old Quarter Horse stallion, easily 1200 pounds and about 15.3hh. He also is the nicest horse to be around, good natured, intelligent and pleasant, but takes an experienced handler when breeding him and, if there are enough mare patients around, you have to pay attention when taking him out of his corral. He's reared to full height in his pen before, and absolutely TOWERED over everything. Magnificent to see...but I woudn't want to be too close!

I've only been seriously attacked once. I was kicked in the back by a gelding so hard my legs buckled. When I could walk again, I went to the tackroom and grabbed a crop which I stuck into my calf high boot. I went back to catch him again and when he charged me, I used the crop on him. We came to an understanding and it never happened again. I'd not want to repeat that again either! Most of what else I've encountered has been posturing, which, as long as you address it in kind, never becomes anything.

I'd have to agree, though, fighting stallions would be different. Especially, if any mares were close by. A break in the fighting would be your only chance.
Cheryl

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

Only a couple weeks ago, my friend's three-year old mare (a fjord!) turned her butt to my friend while being led and kicked straight back, catching my friend in the shoulder. Luckily she was only bruised, but she must have sent that horse flying backwards all the way across our large outdoor arena. Horse hasn't tried anything of that magnitude since.

I imagine that if you were between a stallion and a mare, the stallion would not give in so easily. However, lots of stallions show with mares or live in barns with them or race them -- in other words, they are exposed to them every day -- and many do not attempt to kill their handlers in an effort to reach them. I've gone on trail rides with the Arabian stallions at my barn in Colorado. And Arabians can be particularly psychopathic. So they can be manageable. It depends upon the horse and how "studdy" he is.

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

Ok... I'm thinking the young stallion breaks free of his enclosure (faulty latch? careless person?) while the aging stallion is being led past and a fight ensues. Or maybe I can get away with posturing... and they manage to separate the beasts somehow? But the head of the stables warns the owner that the young one will undoubtedly kill the prize stallion if he ever got at him.

No, that might not work. I'm trying to write a situation in which the owner of the stables is so pissed that in a fit of anger he orders the young stallion destroyed... have no fear, another character sneaks out in the depths of night to release the young stallion, making it look like an accident... and of course the owner has second thoughts the next morning and rescinds the order but the stallion is gone (to appear later at a critical point in the story).

Edit: Oh, wait, "pissed" means drunk, doesn't it? I mean enraged, of course.

However, I do not want the young stallion to kill the older stallion as this one appears in a later story, where he wins several races, and therefore must survive this one, in good or recoverable shape. What to do?

Wow, all these anecdotes. My "brat" was mild mannered by comparison, for all she was spoilt by her previous owner and required much patient work (and fisticuffs) to bring around.

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

Perhaps a situation then in which an angry stable owner orders a horse destroyed is one wherein the horse attacks a person instead of another horse. I don't see anyone having a horse destroyed because he attempts to kill other horses, unless he is such a chronic problem that he is completely unmanageable whenever another stallion is near. But even so, I would think gelding the horse would be a more reasonable choice than killing him (I made a leap of faith that ME people, except for Elves maybe, geld male horses).

However, if the horse was a danger to people, they might view it differently. And NOT in a "he's slightly psycho but you can put a stud chain on him and deal" way, but in a "he will try to attack and kill you" way. Maybe he has a habit of attacking people and then finally just nails someone and the stable owner decides the horse should be put down.

In Black Stallion books (and others like them) they claim that of course one horse will kill another, but in reality you don't know and they probably won't. Deaths from stallion fights are extremely rare. If stallions regularly killed or maimed one another, the species would not have survived.

But if the horse has learned that people will back off if he behaves aggressively towards them, the behavior will escalate.

Edit: Any non-horsepeople reading this thread must be wondering why on earth people do this. Neat.

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

Oh dear. I don't want to give the impression that all stallions are raving lunatics. .. certainly my little guy is not, but my point was that they are enormous animals and when they get in 'fight mode' ... You would literally be risking your life to get near, much less between them. The question asked was about separating them once the fight had already started and my response to that was 'not without a high caliber projectile weapon'.

The one I was talking about above, lives on pasture with another young stallion and has been on trail rides with mares without any problems, but we are currently dealing with problems relating to inappropraite aggression toward other males, gelding or stallions. (except his friend). It is strictly a training issue and I am working him into situtations in which I am specifically between him and the other horse and we practice him being attentive to me, not the other horse. He could kill me in a heartbeat if he were to strike or lunge at me, but he won't because of our bond and his training. however I still would not attempt to get between him and another horse if I could not stop it before they got started.

IMO (not humble) 'studdy' is a sad excuse for 'needs more training' ... even when it is my guy misbehaving - it is inexcusable behavior that is severely dealt with at the time, and in future training sessions. This is a soapbox of mine, and I don't apologize for ranting.

The difference between a stallion/mare interaction and a stallion fight is that the stallion wants to breed the mare. He is genetically programed to attempt to breed her, and if she rejects him, he will try again later. If stallions routinely fought and killed mares, there would soon be no horses left. OTOH, he is also genetically hard wired to try to kill all other males. This is something that can be overcome by training, but it is not an issue that can be handled casually.

I hope that makes some kind of sense, I'm afraid we're drifting off topic.

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

But if the horse has learned that people will back off if he behaves aggressively towards them, the behavior will escalate.

absolutely, this is a huge problem with modern horses.

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

Ok... I'm thinking the young stallion breaks free of his enclosure (faulty latch? careless person?) while the aging stallion is being led past and a fight ensues. Or maybe I can get away with posturing... and they manage to separate the beasts somehow? But the head of the stables warns the owner that the young one will undoubtedly kill the prize stallion if he ever got at him.

If the young horse is charging the fence he could possible break through it. The older horse is being led by, so the handler is right there between them, there would definitely be some posturing, and with the older horse having a firm training background, there should be time for other handlers to run up. This is where the long whip, like a bull whip? would be handy to drive the younger horse back into his pen. It could be that he turned his aggression from the old stallion toward the handlers when they got between them, that might be enough for the death order.

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

But if the horse has learned that people will back off if he behaves aggressively towards them, the behavior will escalate.

absolutely, this is a huge problem with modern horses.


But would it be a problem for ME horses? A horse will always be a horse, but would a people absolutely reliant on them for transportation, military, and everything else be more clued in to horse behavior? I have doubts that *everyone * there was a good horseperson, since by all accounts there was a lot of abuse and mishandling of horses before the invention of the automobile. I think that is relevent since if ALL ME horses were extraordinarily well-trained, Lindelea's stallion would be too well-mannered to rip free of his handlers and go after another stallion (or person or whatever). If stallions were so compelled by hard-wiring to kill each other that no amount of training would redirect those instincts, you could never show or race them.

Obviously you have to be more alert around a stallion than a mare of gelding, but it's the poorly trained studs you have to really watch out for.

Later Edit: Suriel's post directly above this one is a good way to work it. A charging horse CAN break a gate, and it allows you to have your almost-fight while giving the horse the opprtunity to attack a person and thus give the stable owner grounds to want him gone.

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

If stallions were so compelled by hard-wiring to kill each other that no amount of training would redirect those instincts, you could never show or race them.

Gypsum is right on this, I shouldn't have used that phrase, because it is a behavior that can be overcome by training. sorry if there was any confusion

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

>>But if the horse has learned that people will back off if he behaves >>aggressively towards them, the behavior will escalate.

>absolutely, this is a huge problem with modern horses.

You know, this just might work in my story. The knight of the Mark who was detailed to deliver the stallion fell gravely ill partway there (think heart attack, probably) and before he died got the guardsmen who found him to swear they'd see the stallion on to his destination. They couldn't leave their outpost, of course, but found a caravan of merchants travelling that way and turned the stallion over to them.

The merchants might easily have not known how to handle the beast, being peddlers with cold-blooded and likely gelded draught horses, and their mishandling aggravated the stalion's aggressive behaviour before he reached his destination...

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

Okay, I'm a bit behind so I'm combining a lot into one post...hope it's not confusing!

But even so, I would think gelding the horse would be a more reasonable choice than killing him (I made a leap of faith that ME people, except for Elves maybe, geld male horses).

You're not alone in that assumption. I assume the same thing, because active "culling" or selecting which individuals will be bred and which not, is essential to enforcing and setting the traits you want in a breed/type of horse. Since the Rohirrim are known for their superior horses, selective breeding would be essential to make the horses (as a whole, not just as individuals) a "cut above" other horses. Castration, in one form or another has been done for a very long time.

But if the horse has learned that people will back off if he behaves aggressively towards them, the behavior will escalate.

ABSOLUTELY! Remember, any aggresive behavior by a horse is a challenge to his (or your) status in the herd pecking order. If you back off, the horse will percieve himself as higher in the pecking order than you. This will serve to escalate the behavior and is extremely dangerous. A rule of thumb: Always think on the horse's level, don't expect him to think on yours.

But would it be a problem for ME horses?

In my not so humble opinion, yes. The reason for it is, that horses are horses, regardless of the era they're in. I would imagine, espeically among the Rohirrim, it would be less of a problem, because they're so closely connected to horses, that there are many less novices handling horses than there are today. Any such behavior would be dealt with on the spot, before it became a problem. An experienced horseman knows and recognizes such behavior immediately and deals with it on the spot. Once the horse recognizes and knows his position in the pecking order (in relation to yours which is higher) the issue is over. In fact, I believe horses are much happier and feel much securer if they know definitely where they are in the pecking order. Being animals of herd instinct, I think knowing such gives them a much more secure feeling.

IMO (not humble) 'studdy' is a sad excuse for 'needs more training' ... even when it is my guy misbehaving - it is inexcusable behavior that is severely dealt with at the time, and in future training sessions. This is a soapbox of mine, and I don't apologize for ranting.

I agree. Unfortunately a lot of the stallion handling problems that I see these days are because novices are thinking they can handle stallions. That may work in some cases, but most of the time it does not and can lead to a dangerous situation. Some stallions are more "studdy" than others, but all can be trained and handled as long as the handler knows what they're doing. Just IMO (my opinions are never humble either...not when it comes to horses anyway. )

Any non-horsepeople reading this thread must be wondering why on earth people do this. Neat.

LOL! I've met many non horse people who think I'm nuts to have such a love for horses.


Cheryl




 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

At the stables where I kept my mare, the behaviour problems seemed to stem from people who'd read too many of those "my horse--my best friend" books, and thereby been convinced that you do not raise your voice or your hand against your horse at any time, for if you do it is your problem, not the horse's. Now, sure, you cannot take out your frustrations on any animal, but you also have to be the boss, unless you plan to let them be the boss.

I had trouble with my mare when I first got her (I was pretty inexperienced when I got her, had taken a lot of lessons but never really *knew* any horses well) and a more experienced owner showed me how I (a 100 lb weakling) could out-tough my 1200 lb mare. (Amazing what a well-placed fist, driven with all you have, can do to change a horse's tendency to move her hindquarters threateningly towards you when you're mounting.) He then introduced me to a very petite dressage instructor who made my mare quiver with respect... and taught me to handle this stubborn creature and help her learn to be a pleasure instead of a pain.

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

The merchants might easily have not known how to handle the beast, being peddlers with cold-blooded and likely gelded draught horses, and their mishandling aggravated the stalion's aggressive behaviour before he reached his destination...

Yes, this is perfect.

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

I also imagine ME horses by necessity would have to be well behaved enough get around. Not great, but perhaps slightly less ADD than many modern horses. I took care of a barnful of 17+hh dressage warmbloods one summer and they were all terrors since all they ever did was go from the stall to the crossties to the indoor arena. Therefore the trainer didn't think it important that they have any semblance of groud manners (he thought I was slightly mad whenever I tried to work with the horses). As ME horses have to really work for a living (and probably did not have indoor arenas), you can't have a functional horse that goes ballistic whenever you take it outside or lead it somewhere further than the crossties.

In my experience, lots of problems stem from people afraid of their horses. They learn to intimidate quick and conclude that in your little herd, they are in charge. And you can't be nice if you are asserting your dominance if the horse is giving you a hard time about it -- if you've ever watched horses in a field, the alpha horse kicks, bites, and chases any horse who challenges his or her status.

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

well behaved enough get around. Not great, but perhaps slightly less ADD than many modern horses. I

Uh-oh, my other favorite soapbox... when you breed only for specialized, specific criteria, (such as speed, *or* beauty) you deselect for others by default. Emotional stability has suffered greatly in many American-bred horses. My broodmares pack kids on trail rides, show 4-h and Open, and run AERC endurance. ...better stop there before I get off on another tangent

Back to Middle-earth horses. ..... I imagine those that didn't have some level of sensibility and trainability were culled.

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

Emotional stability has suffered greatly in many American-bred horses.

I agree. Except these were all imported from Europe.

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

snicker ...then they have no excuses - except maybe that they cost too much to have to use any sense

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

Therefore the trainer didn't think it important that they have any semblance of groud manners (he thought I was slightly mad whenever I tried to work with the horses).

Ugh. Bad ground manners translate to bad riding manners. *MAJOR pet peeve alert...I can't stand bad ground manners!!* It's all related. If the horse doesn't respect you on the ground, he doesn't respect you in the saddle. Sure, he may perform well enough, when made to, but he'd be that much better if he respected you. Just my opinion.

Emotional stability has suffered greatly in many American-bred horses.

Yeah, I've seen it. Personally, I won't have anything to do with idiot horses. They're too big and too strong to mess with...and there are too many good horses worth my time. That doesn't include horses that just need some training, but still have some brains and common sense. I mean the real idiots.

Getting back to M-e I think, from the sense of needing war horses, the Rohirrim wouldn't have much tolerance for idiots either. Definitely a trait to select against.

Uh-oh, my other favorite soapbox... when you breed only for specialized, specific criteria, (such as speed, *or* beauty) you deselect for others by default

So very true!! Not only have some breeds suffered in the emotional stability/brains catagory, but in my profession, we've seen it in breeding/reproductive problems. It makes sense, in the wild, if a horse wasn't reproductively successful, it didn't reproduce. However, with modern medicine, we can sometimes overcome that...and do for people interested in breeding a particular horse with a particular set of traits (that just happens to not include reproductive soundness)That's a great example of deselecting other traits in the name of selecting for ones you want.

Oh dear....now who's on a tangent!? Shutting up now.

Cheryl

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

At the stables where I kept my mare, the behaviour problems seemed to stem from people who'd read too many of those "my horse--my best friend" books, and thereby been convinced that you do not raise your voice or your hand against your horse at any time, for if you do it is your problem, not the horse's.

Uh huh...drives me crazy. I call it "expecting the horse to relate to you on your level, instead of you relating to him on his." Okay, I love horses, but they're not as smart as me. As my father rather eloquently put it, "if the horse was as smart as us, we'd have people shows, not horse shows." Hehehe.. So, don't expect the horse to have a rational, logical thoughts about his reactions/actions. He won't. His will be instinctive, and, if directed at you, will probably have something to do with pecking order. You MUST relate to him on his level and, if you don't want to get hurt or killed, you have to be the alpha horse...and you'll probably have to prove it to him at least once.

I'm not talking abuse, I have no use for it, and don't think it's productive training in any way. I'm talking about communicating with the horse on his level...in a language he understands...and sometimes that requires discipline.
Cheryl

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

//pointing up// I think Cheryl's my new best friend, and Gypsum too!! .... Any time you want to go off on that kind of tangent, let me know, I'll come along ... always plenty of room up on the soapbox !

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

I totally agree with all said above.

To add to it and not be totally redundant, one of my pet peeves are people who anthropomorphize their horses to the extent that it interferes with training. Of course, we ALL do that to an extent when talking about our horses, but when addressing a training problem you have to treat the horse as a horse. You can't ascribe the horse too many complex motives -- for one, you don't actually know what it's thinking, it's probably not thinking what you think it is thinking, and does it really matter? If he's not listening to you, you're not the alpha horse in the herd and don't have his respect, or you're not communicating clearly and he does not understand what you want, or he's in pain and responding to that. I was working this mare for a friend of mine while there was a jumping lesson of about seven horses cantering around and going over fences on the opposite of the ring. The mare kept throwing her head in the air and attempting to take off. She didn't, but it wasn't the most productive ride in the world. When I described the behavior to the owner, she said, "Awwww.... Poor Bailey... She just to wanted jump. I just don't ride her when there are lessons." Who can really know if the horse wanted to jump, but the owner's response sure explained why the horse was being a wingnut.

And then there are the people who write off their horse's bad behavior to "He is just that way." Some horses are going to be naturally hotter, more aggressive, more laid back, whatever, than other horses, but if he's walking all over you, being nippy, kicking, and generally bad mannered, it is because no one ever trained him otherwise. The dressage trainer I worked for that summer once said of his warmbloods, "These horses, they're not like your horse (my horse has near flawless ground manners). You can't expect them to be trainable like that." Right I thought. You can train these horses to do tempi changes and you can't train them to stand still and not run over you, cause a 17hh horse running over you is a lot of fun. That's neat. But I didn't say anything cause he was a big scary German guy and I didn't want to argue with him.

Wheeee for off-topic. But it's not useless.... Anyone who needs to write about horse handling in ME can read the above thread. LOL.

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

My goodness, I'm glad my dressage instructor wasn't like the one you describe above! She was tough. She probably weighed eighty-five or ninety pounds dripping wet, but it was all bone, muscle, sinew and determination.

The first time she got on my horse to demonstrate what I wasn't "getting", I swear I saw the horse transform before my eyes from a lazy, recalcitrant, stubborn mare that may not have been handled well by the previous owner (think: horse is standing still, owner jumps aboard and kicks into gallop, races around barrels, pulls to a stop. Done. I'm not sure she got any further training than that, other than some trail-riding, perhaps? She was okay on trail rides but bring her into a ring and she was instantly a barrel racer and nothing else). Barbara settled into the saddle and all of a sudden my mare, for all her appaloosa looks, could have been a model for a picture of a dressage horse. Honestly! Her head came down, her neck flexed, she was "on" the bit. Barbara put her through her paces, even had her walking sideways. (I don't remember the term, it's been 20 years since I rode). This from a horse who didn't know dressage but recognised the signals of seat, legs and hands, properly applied.

I try to recall what she taught me about such things when I write of ME riders who know what they're doing.

Ok, have got incident fleshed out a bit... Stallion is nearly unmanageable when he arrives, due to wimpy merchants who couldn't handle him (LOL not quite that simple. He belonged to a king, they're afraid to lay a hand on him, they end up putting him in a "box" to transport him and deny him food and water to control him, they're used to dealing with cold-blooded gelded draught beasts). Head of stables works with him for two weeks but shakes his head, he really hasn't time for this. He advises owner to turn stallion out in sturdy paddock, turn mares out with him when he wants them bred. (Ok, have I just written a terrible boo-boo? Is the guy practicing malpractice? I want him to be a competent horseman but just not having time for this beast and no one else working for him who's competent to take over). Ideally they'd sell the stallion but that's not an option. (Yes, lots of owners sell their problems to get them out of sight, don't they?)

Edit: Perhaps the young stallion has already injured the head's assistant trainer, or something?

Someone else working in another capacity in this place, not in the stables, but he is the grown son of a trainer from another stables, takes on this stallion in his free time. (What kinds of things would he do, realistically?)

The owner's young son is walking along with the stable hand who's leading the prize stallion to the door for the owner to take a ride. The young stallion breaks through the fence to go after the prize stallion. With great daring and little hope a stable worker puts himself between 4yo and charging stallion, throwing the kid out of danger but getting run over himself.

The prize stallion is manageable, and the head of the stables and the son of the trainer beat off the young stallion with whips, plus the control that the work the trainer's son has done with the young stallion helps him gain control.

In the heat of the moment the owner declares that the young stallion should be destroyed. The head of the stables does the "Yes sir" thing, privately resolving to leave the matter until the morning, hoping the owner will change his mind when he cools off. The son of the trainer, however, is not so sure and takes the young stallion out, releasing him in the hill country where mostly sheep roam. They'll meet again at a later point in the story.

Is this realistic? I know the bit about releasing the animal is unrealistic, but a large plot point hinges on their unexpected meeting later in the story.

Thanks for your feedback! Once I hammer out the outline, I'll be able to actually write the scene, and then I'll send it to you for comments (and thanks again for offering to read and comment!)

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

Her head came down, her neck flexed, she was "on" the bit. Barbara put her through her paces, even had her walking sideways. (I don't remember the term, it's been 20 years since I rode). This from a horse who didn't know dressage but recognised the signals of seat, legs and hands, properly applied.

This is true of many horses. How I describe the mare I wrote about above and how her owner describes her are totally different. I can get that mare to go on the bit and stretch over her back, but her owner, who has had no dressage training, swears the mare cannot go on the bit. Other people can get my horse to do lovely canter transitions, whereas I have trouble with them sometimes because my aids for canter suck.

He advises owner to turn stallion out in sturdy paddock, turn mares out with him when he wants them bred. (Ok, have I just written a terrible boo-boo? Is the guy practicing malpractice?

Not really. Pasture breeding isn't really done much in America, since the animals are often incredibly valuble and you run the risk of injury. However, horses have bred themselves for centuries and pasture breeding is done in other places. This is totally up to any interpretation, but IMHO I don't see the Rohirrim (or any ME people) putting breeding hobbles and stud chains and the whole nine-yards of protection upon breeding horses. Just doesn't seem like a very ME thing to do. So the pasture breeding is perfectly kosher, at least in my world.

It';s not wholly unreasonable to just turn out a problem horse no one wants to deal with. It's lousy horsemanship, but it's not like people don't do it. So I wouldn't call it implausible, especially if it is not a permanent situation and your head trainer plans on getting rid of the horse and making him someone else's problem in the near future. Like I said, not good horsemanship and I would not approve or call it a good idea, but not implausible for the purposes of a narrative.

Someone else working in another capacity in this place, not in the stables, but he is the grown son of a trainer from another stables, takes on this stallion in his free time. (What kinds of things would he do, realistically?)

I'm a huge fan of "natural horsemanship" type round-penning. Umm.. explained in twenty-five words or less, that is asking the horse to yield to you going in circles in an enclosed space -- you "chase" him as a dominant horse in a herd would and thereby establish that you are the alpha horse. If it works, the horse should then desire to come in to the center of the pen with you and stand in a demure, attentive, yielding way, and do whatever you ask, as he would do with an alpha horse in a herd.

I'd also do other yielding ground exercises, like stopping when you ask him to, backing up, and moving sideways when you ask. Ask him to disengage his hind end: step towards his haunches and he moves his rear end away from you, crossing his hindlegs as he goes. Love that exercise. Then ask him to swing his shoulders over, thus changing direction. He should not lean towards you, but rather rock back on his hindquarters and pull his shoulders away from you. Always always always he should be yielding to pressure and respecting your personal space. And if he's not being attentive, quietly ask him to move his feet. Sideways, backwards, wherever so long as it is where you asked. That is how horses assert dominance over one another, they move each other around.

Is this realistic? I know the bit about releasing the animal is unrealistic, but a large plot point hinges on their unexpected meeting later in the story.

This is Middle-earth. Shadowfax was running lose forever because no one except for Gandalf could control him. And in the movies Brego was turned loose because no one could control him (and Aragorn said to, but that was because the horse was being psycho). So it is apparently not ridiculous in Rohan to just turn loose nutty horses.

That got long.

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions


Is this realistic? I know the bit about releasing the animal is unrealistic, but a large plot point hinges on their unexpected meeting later in the story.

agreed that this would not be my solution, but possibly what would be done. Its already been said, but your outline looks pretty good.

I'll also second Gypsum's post on the work. I'll add a couple of thoughts. .. in order to move their feet, I use a 6 inch dowel rod, about the diameter of my pinkie. You can press it (flat end) into their shoulder, or barrel, or hindquarters, softly, with slightly ever increasing pressure until the shift away from you, you instantly release the pressure. gradually asking for more movement until you get them to step away or bend away from your touch. It is a simple and effective technique to teach them to move away from your touch, which translated into moving away from your leg under saddle. Also, the way a horses mind works, if you can teach them this, it tends to short-circuit a lot of the more obnoxious and/or aggressive behaviors because you've quietly yet firmly established your superiority.

Once your trainer has the horse 1)shifting his weight away from his touch he would 2)ask him to step away, including forward with tap on the hindquarters #3) would be to ask him to make a series of steps, step over obstacles, in the company of other horses, that sort of thing.

I'm sure you don't need all this detail for your fic, but hopefully some part of it will work for you in the scene.

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

I'm a huge fan of "natural horsemanship" type round-penning. Umm.. explained in twenty-five words or less, that is asking the horse to yield to you going in circles in an enclosed space -- you "chase" him as a dominant horse in a herd would and thereby establish that you are the alpha horse. If it works, the horse should then desire to come in to the center of the pen with you and stand in a demure, attentive, yielding way, and do whatever you ask, as he would do with an alpha horse in a herd.


Is this what my dressage instructor had me doing when we were working on the lunge line (did I spell that right?)? I did this for a good 30-60 minutes, loosening her up and getting her to listen to me, before each riding session or riding lesson. Funny, I don't remember *why* the horse obeyed me, how I kept her at the end of the line, running along the fence instead of moving towards the middle... perhaps the long whip had something to do with it, though I never hit her with it as I recall.

Is the horse on a line when you're doing this, or are you chasing him around the ring with a whip or something?

Thanks,
Lin

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

Is this what my dressage instructor had me doing when we were working on the lunge line (did I spell that right?)? I did this for a good 30-60 minutes, loosening her up and getting her to listen to me, before each riding session or riding lesson. Funny, I don't remember *why* the horse obeyed me, how I kept her at the end of the line, running along the fence instead of moving towards the middle... perhaps the long whip had something to do with it, though I never hit her with it as I recall.

Probably not. The point of round-penning is to move their feet by asking them with your body to change direction (both by turning towards you and towards the fence), and eventually they want to come in to you, thus acknowledging you as a dominant herd member. You generally don't have a rope between you and the horse.. I usually don't even use a whip, but rather use my lead rope to drive the horse. If the horse ignores the rope or is kind of scary, I use a whip, but usually not.

This is very different from just longeing a horse around and around in a circle on a longe line to get them loosened up or calmed down. You're not attempting to be in a herd situation on an ordinary longe line, but rather get the horse moving without you on his back. I rarely longe, but it has it's uses and misuses like anything else. For instance, if you longe in sidereins it's good for getting a horse over its back if you're not sure the rider has a quiet enough seat and hands to do it. However, I would NEVER longe for an hour because running around in that circle for that long is incredibly hard on their joints.

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

Well, once again, I’m coming in late in the discussion. Drat to being busy at work! I don’t have time to check in during the day. Anyhoo…

//pointing up// I think Cheryl's my new best friend, and Gypsum too!!.... Any time you want to go off on that kind of tangent, let me know, I'll come along ... always plenty of room up on the soapbox!

LOL! Well, my soapbox is large and highly developed. Plenty of room for my friends anytime! :wink

To add to it and not be totally redundant, one of my pet peeves are people who anthropomorphize their horses to the extent that it interferes with training. Of course, we ALL do that to an extent when talking about our horses, but when addressing a training problem you have to treat the horse as a horse

Ah! That’s the word I was looking for when posting before! Anthropomorphize! That’s exactly it. I couldn’t agree more. I see it a lot…usually from people that asked me why my horses were always so well behaved and pleasant to be around…gee, could it be because I didn’t let them run over the top of me?

but if he's walking all over you, being nippy, kicking, and generally bad mannered, it is because no one ever trained him otherwise.

Amazingly enough, I’ve been able to come to a quick understanding with horses such as this. You’d think it’d take a long time, but it doesn’t. Within a few minutes, the horse is already better; all he needed was a little incentive to behave...and the knowledge that he is not higher than you in the pecking order, so such behavior is not allowed. Sure, you’ll probably have to repeat the lesson several times to break the horse’s habit, but the initial response is surprisingly immediate, once you’re both communicating in the same language.

The dressage trainer I worked for that summer once said of his warmbloods, "These horses, they're not like your horse (my horse has near flawless ground manners). You can't expect them to be trainable like that." Right I thought. You can train these horses to do tempi changes and you can't train them to stand still and not run over you, cause a 17hh horse running over you is a lot of fun.

??????? I don’t get that, but what do I know? I’m just a dumb, American Western rider. big sarcastic grin

My goodness, I'm glad my dressage instructor wasn't like the one you describe above! She was tough. She probably weighed eighty-five or ninety pounds dripping wet, but it was all bone, muscle, sinew and determination.

My trainer when I was a teenager was EXACTLY the same! LOL She wasn’t a dressage trainer, per se, but taught me dressage as a part of the whole, in training show horses both hunt seat and western. After all, she was (and I am) a firm believer that every horse should know at least basic dressage as the building blocks for complete training, whether they’re grand prix dressage horses, or cutting and reining horses, its essential for a properly trained horse. *shuddering to think how sore my legs were sometimes after lessons..*

This from a horse who didn't know dressage but recognised the signals of seat, legs and hands, properly applied.

It’s amazing what clear, concise and confident (I call them the Three C’s ,) signals and riding can do for a horse. My trainer had the same effect on my gelding. When I was still learning, she’d get on him for 15 minutes of every lesson. I’d watch him go down the rail and do pattern work through the center of the arena in awe thinking, “Man! I wish I could get him to do that!” Then one day, I did. It was an amazing feeling.

Okay…tangent over…back to M-e :wink

putting breeding hobbles and stud chains and the whole nine-yards of protection upon breeding horses. Just doesn't seem like a very ME thing to do. So the pasture breeding is perfectly kosher, at least in my world.

My world too. I can’t picture the Rohirrim doing anything such as that. I see their breeding horses running in bands of mares with their stallions. The only control I see is maybe arranging which mares run with which stallion.

Someone else working in another capacity in this place, not in the stables, but he is the grown son of a trainer from another stables, takes on this stallion in his free time. (What kinds of things would he do, realistically?)

Gypsum, Sulriel, you are my new best friends. I wholeheartedly agree with what both of you suggested!! In this situation, I would use something similar to what you use, Sulriel, but not nearly so sophisticated. I use a broken off stick, about the size of my index finger, laid into my hand to line up with my index finger. I start with the shoulder, and I touch and cluck to the horse, the pressure increases (and I slide the stick up past my finger and press it into the horse’s shoulder) while continuing to cluck and ask for movement. When he moves (at first a step is all it takes) the pressure is relieved and he is praised. (I usually scratch him under the mane). I repeat this process with the hip, each particular leg, between the ears (the poll) and anywhere else. I believe that the horse should move any part of his body away from me any time I ask him to. The shoulder and the hip have always been the most important, because these two translate directly to correct movement away from the leg when riding. I think that would be important also to riders of war horses, as being able to guide the horse with the legs is essential to freeing up the hands for combat. I also found the shoulder to be particularly important because for competition showmanship (competing on the ground in the halter) the horse must know how to pivot on the haunch, which is impossible to do unless they move their shoulder away from you correctly. As a long time competitor in showmanship, we took ground manners to the extreme in that each of my horses could do complex pattern work without a halter. All of this started the same way: move a part of your body when I ask you to. (Okay, that had nothing to do with M-e. It was another one of those tangent things…)

Another thing I think he’d work on would be teaching the horse proper respect for your space. (ie: not letting the horse walk all over you…literally) This is one of the biggest problems I see with horse owners and it gets back to the respect thing. In a halter, if the horse stands in your space (ie: walks on you, gets in your space, and generally makes a pest of himself) back him away, and make him stand away from you. This may require a little firm discipline to make your point (especially if he walks on top of you, which can be dangerous) but it’s a point worth making. I guarantee you’ll be happier handling the horse if he’s not making a pest of himself.

I'm sure you don't need all this detail for your fic, but hopefully some part of it will work for you in the scene.

I second that. I seem to have gotten a bit…. long-winded again. *blush* Hope some of it was helpful!
Cheryl



 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

Huh...not sure what's up with the change in font size. I composed the message in Word, maybe that was it. Sorry!
Cheryl

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

just a quick note before I'm off for the weekend. Lin, you might want to surf the web for info on Linda Tellington-Jones. (smacking forehead I didn't think of this earlier) She is known for this type of training, also -can't remember what she calls it, Ttouch (?) massage, what is essentially accupressure, - lots of good stuff.

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

Well, perhaps it wasn't an hour! But only felt like it... *g*. It was 20 years ago, after all, and memory is not quite so good as it used to be.

Would we have longed in one direction only, or changed directions? I cannot even remember that...

Thanks!

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

She calles her training system TTEAM and the massage/accupressure Ttouch.

Also can check the webs for folks like Pat Parelli, Buck Branaman, Marty Martin, and a dozen others.

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions

Linda T.-J. and TTEAM and Ttouch and the others... (Parelli, Branaman, Martin, all names I do not know but will learn, I imagine)

Almost makes me wish I still owned a horse, though if I did own one I don't know what I'd do with it. Can no longer ride due to joint pain. I got on a horse a few years ago after one of my daughter's riding lessons to show her something she wasn't quite getting, and that was the last time... drat.

I will be doing some web research this weekend it seems!

So, you don't think these methods are too modern for ME, do you?

And thanks for sharing from your personal experience as well as giving me further leads to pursue!

As it turns out, the head of stables is quite busy at the moment, as are the trainers working under him. I had forgotten the annual races are coming up in a matter of weeks. He probably is up to his ears at the moment, getting the best prospects in the stables ready... and has plans for rehabilitating this young stallion when the rush is over...

 

 

Not a predator

have had a glut-fest with the library computer and ordered oodles of books. None by Mark Rashid (I think that's the name) in the collection, though, and he has some intriguing-sounding books on Amazon.com (I queried the budget and it said "no") Okay, so someone said that one way to get along with a fearful or aggressive horse is to not act like a predator. Is that right? So we've got this stallion no one can handle, that's been turned out in a field until someone has time to try to deal with him. What kinds of things would someone do to begin to befriend this horse? Or is befriend the wrong word? "Gentle"? "Tame?" Have quite an exciting scene coming up where a 3yo wanders into the field where this "killer stallion" is and the guy who has been working at "befriending" the stallion has to get her out of there. My own horse, though difficult towards grownups, was very gentle with little tiny children, for some reason. Is this usual? Please help. It may be a few days before the library does anything about my wait list, and I'd like to at least start on the next chapter of this story if possible. Aargh. Have to write while the writing bug is biting or wait through the slump to the next binge.

 

 

Re: Not a predator

Okay, so someone said that one way to get along with a fearful or aggressive horse is to not act like a predator. Is that right?" Yup. Horses are flight animals and if they thik you're a predator, they will attempt to flee, and should that fail, they'll fight. You have to be a dominant horse, but not a mountain lion. What kinds of things would someone do to begin to befriend this horse? Or is befriend the wrong word? "Gentle"? "Tame?" Geld him More seriously, it depends on how aggressive the horse is. If he attempts to kill you when you enter his paddock, I'd stand outside until he stopped charging the fence. Then I'd slowly move in, pushing closer and closer to his personal space, as much as he allowed. Once I could get close enough to him to handle him, I would start doing the exercises detailed in above posts. I would also just hang out with him, scratching him, offering him treats (not hand-feeding, but thrown on the ground or in a feed bin), make myself pleasant to be around. If he is handleable, but just a nutcase on the leadrope, I would begin with the ground exercises. There is really no one way to go about these things. It all depends on the horse. The formatting on this is going to be really odd.

 

 

Round-penning, ground exercises, then what?

Did a web search on round-penning (if I'm remembering the term, wrote instead of sleeping last night and am bushed) and cannot thank you enough for suggesting this! What a neat technique, and it rings true from my long-ago experience. So, the guy has done some round-penning, he's got the stallion responding to him, he's done a few other things too to get the stallion to submit to him. What about tacking? What about riding? I don't think the stallion really has a problem with these, since the merchants who mishandled him were transporting him, either leading him or herding him or shutting him in a box on wheels. What would the guy befriending the stallion do, what steps would he take before getting into the saddle? He's hoping to ride him in a race a few weeks away, is this realistic? Thanks again!

 

 

Re: Round-penning, ground exercises, then what?

Am I assuming correctly here that the horse was once broke to ride? I'm going to make some suggestions based on that...and I would think it's a given that he was broke to a halter and leading at least. If he has been saddled, bridled, and ridden before, then it is a matter of regaining his trust and respect on the ground more than anything else. Depending on how severely damaged the horse's trust in people is will govern how fast he responds to the handler, and how quickly he progresses. My impression, based on what you've told us so far, is that his trust and even respect was damaged pretty badly. I don't see the horse going from step 1 (unhandleable/half-wild) to being ridden in a race in a couple weeks. I think it would take at least a couple weeks of just working on the ground before exposing him to tack, much less getting into a saddle. Even after begining riding again, I would be hesitant to rush into something like a race (excitement, exposure to other horses) too soon after making that significant of progress. Before even considering mounting the horse, the handler needs to be confident the horse has accepted the bit and saddle with no nervousness. Does he stand quietly with both bridle and saddle on? Can you pull on one stirrup/iron with your hand to shift the saddle (simulate mounting) without him reacting negatively? (balking, shying, bolting, nervous prancing, etc) Once on the horse, the gaining of trust and respect needs to continue in a quiet and positive as possible manner. To me, this would negate racing the horse or exposing him to any potentially excitable situation for at least a month or so. I wouldn't want to rush the animal and end up in a situation that turns out badly. It's more important to go slow and keep his experiences as positive as possible in the beginning. I'd say at least a month or so, depending on the individual, but I tend to err on the side of caution. It's so very difficult to know for sure and to even postulate on a training schedule. So much depends on the animal and his personality. Everything about his personality dictates how fast/slow he progresses...and that varies from horse to horse. Training is a matter of knowing a broad set of basics and adapting those techniques to fit the individual animal. It's such a dynamic process with so many variables, that it's difficult to postulate what the next step would be. When I train, I watch the horse's response to what I'm doing and, based on experience, adapt my techniques (even through trial and error) to best fit him. Now, I'm not trying to be discouraging in any way, but rather explaining why my answers seem to be vauge at times. I hope in some small way this helps even a little Cheryl

 

 

Re: Round-penning, ground exercises, then what?

It helps a lot, Cheryl! Actually, your answer sort of fits right in with what I was thinking. The first race is in a little over three weeks' time, too early, for sure. There is another race two weeks after that, so five-and-a-half weeks away, roughly. What I was thinking was that the stallion was already "broken" to ride (is that still PC? LOL we used to say "broke" back in Oklahoma), so he'd be familiar with the process. The merchants wouldn't have tried to ride him, just to lead him, to drive him, and finally, forced him into a "box" and carried him along on a wagon. I was thinking that the main character would be working slowly to get him to take a bit, accept a saddle, that sort of thing when the incident happens that causes the stallion to be turned loose. Then they meet up later, in a crisis situation, about three weeks before the second race to take place in the story, and the main character, in a dazed state, climbs on the stallion's back (mistaking him for another)--the stallion, somehow intuiting that the character is injured, allows and actively aids this by standing quite still near an old stump that serves as a mounting block. (Ah, horses in fiction are so intelligent and empathetic!) ...and the stallion takes the character "home", to everyone's astonishment. After this, would it be reasonable for them to be somewhat bonded? Would the character be able to ride him in the race after three *more* weeks or so (a total of five-six weeks from their first meeting)? Whew, sure hope this makes sense, and that it isn't too fantastical. I already make jokes about another equine character I invented, "Socks the Wonder Pony". LOL. (Even though everything I wrote him doing could be done by any well-trained horse, following directions.) Thanks! Lin

 

 

Re: Round-penning, ground exercises, then what?

How "broken" to ride do you mean? There's broke enough to walk, trot, canter, stop, and steer, and there's, "He's had a saddle on him a couple times, but he doesn't really stop. Or turn." It takes more than a couple weeks to train them to be solid, and I would never race a greenbroke horse. If you're dealing with crowds, other horses, and the excitement of a race, you'd better hope you have brakes and steering. I don't know if a horse, no matter how bonded he is to a person, would realize he needs to stand next to a stump so said person can mount because person is injured. Haha. But that cute little FEI horse in Two Towers knelt down on one knee so half-dead Aragorn could climb on. So these Middle-earth horses might be a bit nicer than normal horses (though the same horse took one look at the Dimholt Road and said, "I don't think so, mate."). If I was working with a problem horse, I would not race him five to six weeks after I started him, but depending on who your character is -- like if he's an Elf or a Dunadan or someone like that -- it would not be ridiculous.

 

 

Re: Round-penning, ground exercises, then what?

I agree with Gypsum. How broke is broke? (and yes, where I come from "broke" is still PC and used, eventhough it's not as accurate anymore) I remember riding some range horses one time (I was a riding instructor for a Girl Scout camp, and the horses were leased every summer) There were "Kid horses" (dead broke, bomb proof, right as rain, etc..) "staff horses" (pretty well broke, but may act up once in a while) and "riding staff horses" which we found out to translate as "we've had a saddle on them a couple times, and they haven't killed anyone...yet" LOL I always considered those to be my project horses and liked the challenge (ahh...the fearlessness of youth...) Anyway, there are varying degrees of broke, and I wouldn't be inclined to take a greenbroke horse into such a situation either. But that cute little FEI horse in Two Towers knelt down on one knee so half-dead Aragorn could climb on. So these Middle-earth horses might be a bit nicer than normal horses (though the same horse took one look at the Dimholt Road and said, "I don't think so, mate."). LOL!! Well, I see "Brego" (and I love that horse, btw) kind of like I see Mearas. They're a bit different. My practical horsey side says the same as you: "No way, horses don't do that," but the romantic side of me loves the concept. Maybe it's part of that whole "Elf Mysticism?" I haven't figured out yet how to address Mearas in my stories...I'll probably end up in some compromise between the two sides. In this situation, I'd have to agree with the above comment. I just don't see the horse having that complex of a rational thought process. Cheryl

 

 

Re: Round-penning, ground exercises, then what?

Oh, not talking about a "complex thought process" here... I am thinking that the injured character blearily remembers the stump nearby, leads the horse over to it with a grip on the back of the horse's neck and mane, the horse actually stands quietly and the guy can get up on its back. If the horse was trained before leaving Rohan, sent as a gift, not a bane, (I'd think he might be pretty well trained before the merchants mishandled him--could a well-trained horse disintegate under mismanagement?), then he might do things like stand still to be mounted. Especially as the merchants hadn't tried to ride him at all. He might even be good under saddle, not just "green broke". If so, with a competent handler, I'm hoping it's not too fantastic that this son of a famous trainer could work "miracles" with him. I am trying to write the story so that the horse doesn't do anything it wouldn't instinctively do (like seeing a pack of stray dogs attacking a mare--coincidentally, with the rider on her back--wouldn't he jump into the fight? ...and being formerly well trained, would he stand quietly for a rider to mount? ...and having that rider on his back, would he instinctively head back towards the stables as he did before with this particular character on his back?)

 

 

Re: Round-penning, ground exercises, then what?

LOL!! Well, I see "Brego" (and I love that horse, btw) kind of like I see Mearas. They're a bit different. Yes, my horse would stand there and be like, "You fell off a cliff. That was pretty stupid, wasn't it?" But I fell in love with that horse and would have liked nothing better than to have seen him put together in a dressage frame. They never asked him for much impulsion and roundness, but I bet if they had really put him together, he would be NICE. I think they should have found a reason to show off an extended trot at least once. I don't know about Mearas, either. Thus far, I have dodged the issue by not writing about them, but I have a story in the works that does address them and I am currently putting that particular fic off.

 

 

Re: Round-penning, ground exercises, then what?

I am thinking that the injured character blearily remembers the stump nearby, leads the horse over to it with a grip on the back of the horse's neck and mane, the horse actually stands quietly and the guy can get up on its back. That is quite reasonable, especially if the horse has been "fixed" and has good basics to begin with. If the horse was trained before leaving Rohan, sent as a gift, not a bane, (I'd think he might be pretty well trained before the merchants mishandled him--could a well-trained horse disintegate under mismanagement?), then he might do things like stand still to be mounted. Especially as the merchants hadn't tried to ride him at all. He might even be good under saddle, not just "green broke" If they have a good foundation, it can be easier to retrain them after they have been mishandled. It totally depends upon the horse, but they can be resilient and come back. And what do you mean by mishandled? If he's been abused, he'll be harder to fix, but if he's just been allowed to walk all over people, he will be easier since he merely needs to be shown that he is not the herd leader, verses shown people won't eat him. I am trying to write the story so that the horse doesn't do anything it wouldn't instinctively do (like seeing a pack of stray dogs attacking a mare--coincidentally, with the rider on her back--wouldn't he jump into the fight? ...and being formerly well trained, would he stand quietly for a rider to mount? ...and having that rider on his back, would he instinctively head back towards the stables as he did before with this particular character on his back? I imagine if one horse saw another being attacked by dogs, that horse would leave. Today as I was riding on the trail, some loose dogs from the houses near the trail came running at me barking, and I flipped out like they were Nazgul or something, whirled my horse around, and galloped back for the barn. Which is probably not the best thing to train in your horse, but in that moment of panic it seemed like an incredibly good idea. I hate loose dogs. Most horses will instinctively go for the stables if given no other direction. Many will head for the stables when given a lot of direction, too, but that is not your issue in your fic.

 

 

Re: Round-penning, ground exercises, then what?

Then they meet up later, in a crisis situation, about three weeks before the second race to take place in the story, and the main character, in a dazed state, climbs on the stallion's back (mistaking him for another)--the stallion, somehow intuiting that the character is injured, allows and actively aids this by standing quite still near an old stump that serves as a mounting block. (Ah, horses in fiction are so intelligent and empathetic!) ...and the stallion takes the character "home", to everyone's astonishment. I hope I don't embarrass myself by answering too quickly and after just skimming the other posts, but I can't stand to miss out on a horsy discussion and I'm on the run until about Tuesday!! anyway - yes, IME, horses can be quiet rational. especially if they are Mearas or have Meara blood. I have written the Meara/Elf-horses/Horses of Valinor in my fic as sentient characters. It would be my assumption that Eomer would not have sent an outlaw pony as a gift; that he had been trained and mishandled/terribly spoiled by the merchants. *I* would not have a problem with him realizing the new handler is a worthwhile leader and deciding to bond with him. The pony that my kids learned to ride on is wonderful in that she will consider each cue before she acts and decide if the rider *meant* to tell her that, and if -in her mind- the rider is advanced enough to ride what they asked for. - and it has to be asked *correctly* or you don't get any response at all. ... LOL! My kids were years on an old schoolmaster and *thought* they knew how to ride until Witness came along and taught them balance and how to cues with their legs and weight .... It was all I could do not to laugh watching her teach my oldest to post a couple of years ago, she would half-halt every time he got off balance or started trying to grip with his knees. -I digress. ... re dogs: I've ridden a 'war-mare' in to scatter dog packs and it is quite the experience. If they are loose in the pasture and the dog packs come near the barn, they will defend the area. I've also had them trail along loose on trail rides and act as outriders for defense and once had them come to 'rescue' me at the call of a skittish mare I was on ... it was exhilarating and, frankly, terrifying to see them coming.

 

 

Re: Round-penning, ground exercises, then what?

playing catch up…again Oh, not talking about a "complex thought process" here... I am thinking that the injured character blearily remembers the stump nearby, leads the horse over to it with a grip on the back of the horse's neck and mane, the horse actually stands quietly and the guy can get up on its back. That sounds reasonable to me. Sorry I misunderstood before. could a well-trained horse disintegate under mismanagement? Absolutely. Especially with abuse cases which are a betrayal of trust. Those take much longer to overcome and to regain the trust of the horse. Reminds me of an old saying “There are no bad horses born, they’re made that way.” Yes, my horse would stand there and be like, "You fell off a cliff. That was pretty stupid, wasn't it?" LOL! Mine too…and he’d graze nearby, ignoring me until I decided to get up and come get him. RE: Brego They never asked him for much impulsion and roundness, but I bet if they had really put him together, he would be NICE. I agree. What a lovely, LOVELY moving horse. Worthy of a King. I don't know about Mearas, either. Thus far, I have dodged the issue by not writing about them, but I have a story in the works that does address them and I am currently putting that particular fic off. Glad I’m not alone here. I imagine if one horse saw another being attacked by dogs, that horse would leave. I imagine the same. It falls under that flight or fight instinct in that horses generally only fight if they cannot flee the danger. However: re dogs: I've ridden a 'war-mare' in to scatter dog packs and it is quite the experience. If they are loose in the pasture and the dog packs come near the barn, they will defend the area. When I was a kid, we had a Shetland X Welsh pony cross that would attack any and all coyotes that came into the pasture. It was hysterical (remember: coyotes are pretty much harmless to healthy horses) this pony would take off after them, ears pinned, teeth bared, and chase them back to the fence line. He even got hunks of hair out of a few of the slow ones a couple times. He had them buffaloed and they wouldn’t come into the pasture when he was around. LOL In my experience, he was an exception to the rule. The other horses I’ve had would watch the coyotes carefully and even actively avoid them. Most horses will instinctively go for the stables if given no other direction. Many will head for the stables when given a lot of direction, too, but that is not your issue in your fic LOL! That is so true! I hate that “hurry back to the stable” mentality…highly irritating. The only time I’ve ever liked it is when I used to get a little…overzealous exploring in the woods and I’d get turned around. I’d just give my horse his head and he always found the way back to the trail or to somewhere near home where I knew where I was. Pretty handy in those situations. Horses have a great sense of direction. I think it’s very feasible that this horse would head back to the stables/home. Cheryl

 

 

Re: Round-penning, ground exercises, then what?

Aha. Sounds as if my stallion can be one of those exceptions to the rule. Wild dogs attack mare (and rider), actually pulling them down; stallion stomps to the rescue!

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions (thanks!)

Sulriel, Gypsum, Cheryl, Many, many thanks for the time you took to help me figure out how to make my equine characters behave realistically. I've begun uploading chapters of the story in question here at HA, under the title "StarFire". The story isn't done yet, of course, but is well underway. Thanks again for your help. Lin

 

 

Re: Fighting stallions (thanks!)

You're welcome! I'm off to beta to find it! Cheryl

 

 

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