Dr. Sue Dyson is doing excellent work in an industry that desperately needs a reality check on what a horse in pain looks/feels like. In competitive equine sports it seems like the suffering or injured horse has become the norm – so people don’t even notice that the horse is in pain.
Let’s not even get into the moral dilemma of someone using another’s body for their own purposes/desires, regardless of what that being feels/thinks/desires! For now, let’s enter this world and see what Dr. Dyson is doing to bring awareness and alleviate suffering for thousands of horses…
I think when assessing the horrors of the performance world, it helps to keep in mind that most of these people began riding lessons in childhood. So they were quickly and often forcibly brainwashed, shamed or taught to ignore their own intuition or wisdom about what felt ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. In addition, many enslaved horses are dissociated – they have checked out, or given up, so they’re not communicating with the kids anyway.
Take cross-ties as one tiny example. People who’ve taken lessons at a stable from a young age do not even question cross-ties. But if you put a harness on the child’s head and roped both sides of her head to the wall, so she couldn’t turn her head left or right, couldn’t move forward or backwards more than a couple of inches… how do you think she would feel emotionally, and in her body? She would then have a visceral understanding of what she’s doing to the horse and have an inkling of how that might feel for the horse.
When you watch the scenes of Galina being groomed at 10:48 minutes, you can see clearly that this is not someone who’s ever been taught to listen to her horse, to read her signs, or understand her messages. There is no 2-way communication here. The human is simply ‘doing’ what she’s been taught she should do – and probably told that it’s good for the horse. Again, when this starts in childhood, the child is easily molded, shamed and quickly learns to dissociate from her own intuition and body wisdom. It’s all downhill from there.
Some of you may remember when I first featured Dr. Sue Dyson’s research, back in 2017, I sincerely hope awareness of these pain signals spreads rapidly across the globe. ANY progress is great progress!
Jini Patel Thompson is a natural health writer and Lazer Tapping instructor. She began riding at age 2 in Kenya, and got her first horse at age 8 in Alberta, and so continues a life-long journey and love affair with these amazing creatures.
6 thoughts on “Pain, Injury, Competition Brainwashing & Dissociation”
Oh, Jini, this is so heartbreaking. It is the second time I’m watching this. My wish for horses is for them to be heard and for people to get out of the way.
It starts with such basic cruelties as kneeing a sentient being in the ribs so you can tighten a saddle, forcing him to pick up his hooves and hand you his vulnerability, fighting her so you can place a metal bit across her tongue. These are just “part of riding,” and you have to ride if you want to be around horses and you can’t have one (so sad all on its own) of your own. I rode my whole childhood and never really questioned it, because I was just so happy to be around horses. When I was in high school I started mucking stalls for an FFA project, and found I liked being a groom/stablehand so much more, but the owner of the farm found my help so useful she started paying my in riding lessons, and I didn’t know how to say no. That lead to me helping teach camps in the summer and getting to “gentle” a horse in a special clinic (I was so lucky — Sassy basically “gentled” herself, and I never had to fight her like some of the other kids had to fight their “project” horses). I tried to practice join-up techniques on some of the other horses afterwards, thinking it was right way to connect with them and got humbled really fast by a kick to the ribs (the only time a horse has ever hurt me, in 31 years of being with them), which was completely my fault. He was just trying to teach me a lesson. I ended up falling head of heals for a very green chestnut Arabian mare who was everything I had ever admired in a horse, and it broke me to have to fight that incredible spirit, to have to try to put out that fire under my heels as I rode her. I’ve ridden only once or twice since. I’ve been incredibly fortunate in the past two years to welcomed in by the land and the truly wild horses here in Wyoming, and they have taught me so much more in just being quietly with them than I ever could have imagined. No touch, just trust.
I found your blog and your incredible mentorship and the herd when I was in the military, and let me tell you, I can deeply relate to how horses feel, now. Their bodies not their own, their time consumed by anothers’ plan for them, their emotions forced down until they are either eaten from the inside or leave. It’s agony now to watch the way horses are treated. I can’t even be around it.
Thank you so much for sharing your journey/story with us Katya. You really portrayed the pressure, molding process that happens with ‘horse girls’ and how they are simply not in a position where they can speak up, or set a boundary – not for themselves, or the horse.
And YES way back when I first started blogging about this I have urged people to set up horse businesses where people can come and just HANG OUT with horses. Some are doing this, but we need many more. 60,000 wild mustangs caged in tiny pens… imagine if people like you took on a few of them and opened it up for children, PTSD sufferers, etc to simply come and BE with the horses. Crafting the experience you wish you’d had… It’s that healing circle in action 🙂
Big hugs from all of us xo
If I can talk hubby into in, that’s a FANTASTIC idea!