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Best. Horse video. Ever.
April 13, 2007 7:21 PM   Subscribe

Wow. I don't know much about dressage, but this video is just astonishing.
posted by cerebus19 (150 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sorry for a one-YouTube, one-Wikipedia link post, but I thought that video was just too awesome not to share.
posted by cerebus19 at 7:22 PM on April 13, 2007


That was awesome. I giggled several times.
posted by puke & cry at 7:30 PM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Lest we forget the Lippizaner Stallions of Vienna.
posted by ericb at 7:30 PM on April 13, 2007


Wow. You know, it's pretty rare that I see something that completely takes me by surprise, but this was one of those times. Fantastic post.
posted by delmoi at 7:32 PM on April 13, 2007


Awesomeness. Thanks. And he didn't win???
posted by bread-eater at 7:32 PM on April 13, 2007


Lest we forget the Lippizaner Stallions of Vienna.

I've actually seen the Lippizaner stallions in person, and they were nothing like this.
posted by delmoi at 7:33 PM on April 13, 2007


I think I must have missed the boogie horse Xenophon reading.

But I'm glad I didn't miss this post.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:33 PM on April 13, 2007


Oh man, I just saw this elsewhere. I can't even dance that well. It's amazing how in synch the horse is to the music.
posted by casarkos at 7:35 PM on April 13, 2007


Fantastic routine, and no pooping during the show. 169.500.
posted by facetious at 7:37 PM on April 13, 2007


Oh, man. I grew up around horses. The people who took this stuff seriously took it serrrrriously. Thanks for the link, it's been a while since I was astounded by livestock.
posted by sonofslim at 7:42 PM on April 13, 2007


Never thought I'd see a horse dancing to Lady Marmalade. Bizarre.
posted by Listener at 7:43 PM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]




I hadn't ever seen dressage in action before, that was amazing. Thank you for posting it.
posted by voltairemodern at 7:44 PM on April 13, 2007


I like horses, and it was pretty and all, but this video just oozes aristocratic smugness and privilege.
posted by Scoo at 7:47 PM on April 13, 2007


It also oozes a fair amount of fucking awesome, Scoo, privileged or not.
posted by Malor at 7:56 PM on April 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


I like horses, and it was pretty and all, but this video just oozes aristocratic smugness and privilege.

Maybe so, but at least it was only posted to metafilter once unlike this
posted by delmoi at 7:56 PM on April 13, 2007


this video just oozes aristocratic smugness and privilege

well, it ain't nascar

::spits::
posted by found missing at 7:56 PM on April 13, 2007


Love the Lady Marmalade instrumental...
posted by Asherah at 7:59 PM on April 13, 2007


Awesome.
posted by rtha at 8:06 PM on April 13, 2007


The music is fucking awful.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:06 PM on April 13, 2007


that was awesome, thanks.
posted by vronsky at 8:07 PM on April 13, 2007


I think the best part of these videos is the announcers; it's like Best in Show, only entirely devoid of irony.
posted by sonofslim at 8:08 PM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've worked many many many EMT shifts at a local horse park that has Dressage events and many other equestrian events.

Most of the people that attend really do "ooze aristocratic smugness and privilege" but that's usually just part of the show.

Other such horse-y stuff includes Vaulting. I didn't know it before, but there's a pretty big "equestrian olympics" that includes a lot of vaulting & dressage performers.

It's just something that we don't see every day.. not even on Animal Planet. :)

off topic note: horses love bagels. And Moon Pies.
posted by drstein at 8:08 PM on April 13, 2007


Matine has lousy taste in music.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:17 PM on April 13, 2007


Crazy awesome. Sweetness. Thanks!
posted by cgc373 at 8:17 PM on April 13, 2007


What.. horse.. soft-shoe..?

Great link!
posted by Industrial PhD at 8:25 PM on April 13, 2007


I found it mildly entertaining at best. It seems like horses would much rather be running and jumping 'n' shit...yo.
posted by mrnutty at 8:25 PM on April 13, 2007


It's more amusing if you imagine the horse is John Cleese doing Ministry of Silly Walks.

but there's a pretty big "equestrian olympics"

You mean the actual Olympics? It's the best bit.
posted by cillit bang at 8:28 PM on April 13, 2007


Well, that was really nothing at all like the dressage events I've attended, which were timed races through a jumping course.

I think the single strangest horse event I ever attended was 30 years ago at the Oregon State Fair. It was rodeo events alternating with something they called "Kentucky Trotters" IIRC, and they had two different announcers who took turns. For the rodeo events there was a guy with a classic Texas accent, and for the other event the guy sounded upper class.

The crowd liked the rodeo events better, I think. I know I did. The rodeo announcer was certainly a lot more fun and connected with the crowd better.

I though the way the Kentucky Trotters pranced around was really silly looking.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 8:28 PM on April 13, 2007


I dunno, she was more like a beauty queen from a movie scene.
posted by unknowncommand at 8:28 PM on April 13, 2007


And he didn't win???

Yeah. Unfortunately, the judges weren't as generous in the swimsuit competition.
posted by Dave Faris at 8:30 PM on April 13, 2007 [5 favorites]


If that horse could jump like David Lee Roth - like splits, in the air - then we would have something.
posted by glycolized at 8:44 PM on April 13, 2007


I just thought it was adorable how the horse swished her tail to the music, like she was really enjoying it. My experience with horses is that they are just like big dogs. They love to play. Sure they will run and go crazy in the pasture with their horse friends, but they are also completely socialized to see their riders and trainers as part of their herd. When they are in the ring and have a happy healthy relationship with their people they love this too. These horses probably live way better than I do.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 8:47 PM on April 13, 2007


Jesus! What did the winning horse do, recreate the audition scene from Flashdance?!
posted by maryh at 8:51 PM on April 13, 2007 [6 favorites]


ok, holy cow, I just watched the winner's vid. Just wow. That pair totally derserved to win. That zig zag thing!! That two time thing!! Yay!

I kept expecting one of the horses to rear up on their hind legs and do the stayin' alive move. Now that would have been cool.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 8:59 PM on April 13, 2007


Horses, meh. Did they crack the whole dark matter thing yet? Wake me up when they do.
posted by unSane at 9:09 PM on April 13, 2007


That was amazing. And to think that talented animal like that could also be so tasty. Boggles the mind.
posted by donovan at 9:20 PM on April 13, 2007 [4 favorites]


I think Disney has unfairly raised my expectations for dancing horses. I was totally expecting more moves than the two-feet cross-field prance.
posted by chrominance at 9:24 PM on April 13, 2007


Lately, I've been thinking about people with money. People with a LOT of money. The Aristocracy, I guess. And I wonder what you do with all of that. You know your great-great-great grandchildren will never have to work, you've endowed a couple museums, given all your relatives cushy corporate jobs; you're tired of eating the imported cheese they fly in on you platinum jet and you're too old to blow all your cash on hard drugs, so what do you do with it? How do you pass the time?

Today, I learned that you pay people to put on top hats and ride horses that dance to MIDIs. And it was all so clear after that.

So, so clear.
posted by StopMakingSense at 9:32 PM on April 13, 2007 [18 favorites]


That was amazing. And to think that talented animal like that could also be so tasty.

Eat the rich! Really, they're quite savory. Or did you mean the horse...?
posted by maryh at 9:36 PM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


There's a reason why they only showed medium- and long-shots. Closeups would prove that Blue Hors Matiné has had lipo, multiple Botox injections, and was clearly chewing gum.
posted by rob511 at 9:41 PM on April 13, 2007


You stuff the poodle in the rider, and the rider in the horse...like an upper-crust Turducken.
posted by casarkos at 9:42 PM on April 13, 2007 [5 favorites]


Pssst... Matinee's wearing extensions in her tail!
posted by luminous phenomena at 9:51 PM on April 13, 2007


I want to see these exact equestrian performances, only without the rider. Show me a horse that enjoys dancing to Lady Marmalade even without being led through it -- and for that I'll give the biggest standing O ever.
posted by davejay at 10:33 PM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


My sister is going to love that link. Thank you.
posted by taosbat at 10:39 PM on April 13, 2007


Come on ZM, every once in a while you have to acknowledge a quality youtube post. I know it burns, but occasionally they are not without real value.

That said, I've ridden horses. Poorly. And they are not meant to move like that. I've seen westerns where really good horsemen make them do things, and they don't dance. It's an affront to nature.

Also, this kind of thing will inevitably perpetuate the Herbie mythos; that your ride will have a personality, an opinion, and can dance.

And kids everywhere will be disappointed when they get their own horse and realize that it doesn't strut to the tunes properly.

I jest. This was awesome. I can barely get my smart dog to listen to me. That these trainers can make a thousand plus pound pack animal do these things is astonishing. I see this and constantly realize my failings as an animal owner.
posted by quin at 10:46 PM on April 13, 2007


Mattamyn: This one, please. This pony is the best pony we wants.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:46 PM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


And for the record, am I the only one who thought the announcer sounded waaay to much like Alan Rickman?
posted by quin at 10:48 PM on April 13, 2007


I figured other people would come along and diss the sport itself so I wouldn't need to. I don't find torturing animals very entertaining... or rather I find it about as entertaining as watching wrecks during car races, which is to say it makes me sick to my stomach that I enjoy watching such things, so I tend to avoid such things, as to not encourage my own behavior. Now if only I could keep myself from buying large Frostys from Wendy's. Then I'd be a better person.

I'm no hater. You guys need to loosen up the bolts on your MeFi-EgoArmor (patent pending) cuz it's cutting off circulation to your funny bone. I know just the thing. I think Electric Boy will shock the living gee outta you.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:58 PM on April 13, 2007


That horse dances better than I do. Fucker.
posted by Justinian at 11:00 PM on April 13, 2007


I love seeing animals have a good time. Mrs. Maxwelton, a horse person of more than 30 years, says she's never seen a horse as happy as the one in the featured link.
posted by maxwelton at 11:01 PM on April 13, 2007


I should note that my sentiments do NOT extend to happy polar bears ripping off my appendages.
posted by maxwelton at 11:02 PM on April 13, 2007


From the way it was presented, I was expecting the horse to do a back flip or a triple-lutz or something. Or at least break it down robot style.

Maybe next year.
posted by kyleg at 11:04 PM on April 13, 2007


ZachsMind is out to lunch today. That horse is showing off, prancing and dancing.
posted by taosbat at 11:06 PM on April 13, 2007


I don't find torturing animals very entertaining...

And I could be wrong, but I don't think you will find anything approaching animal torture here.

Training animals is like an art form. There can be no doubt that discipline is involved, but no real harm, or "torture" should ever be involved. Horses, like dogs, are pack animals, and need a leader. My understanding is that the rider becomes that leader and fills the animals need for leadership.

A bad leader will be thrown eventually.

And notice that at the end of the clip, the rider hugs the horse. This is not something that a harmer would do. That kind of person would see the horse as a product.

Someone that hugs the animal sees it as a friend.
posted by quin at 11:15 PM on April 13, 2007


Mrs. Maxwelton, a horse person of more than 30 years, says she's never seen a horse as happy as the one in the featured link.

Well said.
posted by quin at 11:17 PM on April 13, 2007


MaxWelton: "Mrs. Maxwelton, a horse person of more than 30 years, says she's never seen a horse as happy as the one in the featured link."

Ah. So Mrs. MaxWelton is capable of equestrian telepathy? That's nice. Lemme go get my tin foil hat with the tuna fish inside so I can join in the conversation.

TaosBat: "That horse is showing off, prancing and dancing."

Yes, you could say he's chomping at the bit to put on a right good show for his master. If someone strapped leather around your head and neck, rode around on your back, and fed you carrots, I bet you'd find yourself prancing and dancing too. If the horse liked doing all that, you wouldn't have to make him.

But HEY! ALL I wanted to do in here was make a cute little snarky comment about the mild excessiveness of single YouTube link posts. I didn't mean to rain on anyone's parade. I do YouTube posts in The Blue too. Just makin' conversation. No need to tie your penis in a knot.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:32 PM on April 13, 2007


Well, it's clear you don't know a thing about horses and you're just mouthing off, ZachsMind.
posted by taosbat at 11:36 PM on April 13, 2007


Well, that was really nothing at all like the dressage events I've attended, which were timed races through a jumping course.

Sorry, but you clearly don't know the difference between dressage and hunt seat equitation, hunters & jumpers. With all due respect, it comes across as though you're trying to sound smarter than other people about something you obviously don't know anything about.

[Trained hunter for 5 years as a teenager. Not privileged tho -- I washed horses & scrubbed saddles to pay for lessons & stuff. Jumping horses is kickass fun.]
posted by miss lynnster at 11:39 PM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


I almost typed "no need to get your panties in a wad" but was afraid I'd be accused of being anti-feminist or something, so I took a different approach.

"..it's clear you don't know a thing about horses..:

Well Taos, it's clear you dismiss any opinion that differs from yours. I don't have to know a thing about muggings to tell if someone's being robbed.

So horses LIKE being the Sub in a BDSM game? Oh, I see. Next you'll be telling me horses volunteer to run around in circles so women in big hats can bet on them. I mean who wouldn't? The jockeys aren't too heavy. They don't kick too often. Only when you're not in the lead. It's heaven.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:45 PM on April 13, 2007


And ZachsMind? Taosbat's kinda right. You can get as snarky as you want but that horse is clearly doing something it's enjoying.

The rider tells it what to do by how he holds his hands and where he is putting pressure from his feet. If a horse really isn't suited to dressage, no amount of cues from a rider will make it prance the way that horse does. If a horse is not suited to jumping and it doesn't enjoy it, there is no amount of training that can turn that horse into a champion at it. When they are showing, the horse & the rider are working as a team together & if a rider and a horse don't work well together that also can make a giant difference. In this video, there's a horse and a rider who are on the same wavelength and obviously enjoying doing what they're very very good at. It's not just about indentured servitude when it comes to that kind of performance. They are athletes working together as a team. The horse and rider both have skill and training that few animals/riders are capable of.

It ain't easy.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:50 PM on April 13, 2007


OoooKayyy...whatever you say, ZachsMind...'bye now, you nut you.
posted by taosbat at 11:51 PM on April 13, 2007


You're putting horse shows into a BDSM category? WTF is wrong with you?
posted by miss lynnster at 11:51 PM on April 13, 2007


So horses LIKE being the Sub in a BDSM game?

Um... you may be reading a smidge too much into this, Zach.
posted by maryh at 12:02 AM on April 14, 2007


What, haven't you folks heard of saddle play?
posted by Justinian at 12:05 AM on April 14, 2007


Zachsmind, you clearly don't have a clue about this subject, you're making assumptions that aren't warranted, and yet you continue to dig deeper and deeper.

Are you telling me you cannot tell when, for example, a dog is enjoying itself? Horses will let you know when they're enjoying themselves, or aren't. The fact that you--with (I'm assuming) zero time spent around horses--are willing to dismiss the opinion of someone who has spent her life around horses is indeed tinfoil hat territory.
posted by maxwelton at 12:10 AM on April 14, 2007


From the youtube comments:

this is the faggiest thing. . . i have ever seen. metafilter, you have outdone yourself in pompous fruitiness.


Heh;-)
posted by claudius at 12:19 AM on April 14, 2007


If that's Zach's mind I don't think I want to hear from his ass.

I keed. Truly.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:19 AM on April 14, 2007


Gah. You people take this stuff way too seriously.

I'm not saying stop. By all means, please continue to torture and punish those poor creatures for your selfish gain. Put them on display and call it art. I don't care. Continue pretending you're doing the poor thing a favor by forcing it to do the watusi on command for your fellow humans.

Dress grizzly bears up in panda outfits and show them off on David Letterman. Stupid pet tricks are almost as fun as stupid human tricks.

Parade elephants about in circuses and then lock them up in train cars. Don't feed them enough and make them put all their weight on one foot for applause.

Please continue to feign surprise when a trained tiger mauls Siegried... or was it Roy? I think it was Roy.

Squish bugs! That's my personal favorite. I do that one every chance I get.

Fill up those zoos. Keep animals in captivity like slaves. Why not? We are the most intelligent and civilized and powerful species on the planet after all. We have to continue asserting our authority on every living thing on this planet. Remind the animal kingdom who is in charge, and make a few bucks while we're at it. By all means! Don't let me stop you.

I didn't mean to disturb your little fantasies that making a horse spin in tight circles and run diagonally is good for it. Domesticating a beast is one thing. Putting a bit in its mouth and making it dance to Madonna. That's torture. Please stick your heads back in the sand. Don't let me bother your unhealthy codependent love affair with Equus.

"I don't think I want to hear from his ass."

Plbthbpblthpblpthlthpblthpth!
posted by ZachsMind at 1:11 AM on April 14, 2007


Zachsmind -

You have a point, but I think you're jousting at windmills. People have been abusing horses for a long time... so long that most people think the horses enjoy it.

Who is to say? It's not like they're verbose creatures.
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:23 AM on April 14, 2007


Zachsmind, I don't think you've spent any time around horses. You seem absolutely insistent that the horse is being tortured or something.

Now, I'm far from an expert on equines, but I did spend a little time around them as a kid, and the first I thought (long before I read your comments) was "wow, that horse is having pure fun." He's bouncy, and horses don't strut like that unless they're very happy indeed. He obviously knows what he's doing and is enjoying the hell out of it. His head is high, his ears are up, and he's doing a form of prancing... that horse is in a great mood.

Horses are not, as a general rule, super bright, but they're far from stupid, and the exceptional ones develop a major bond with their rider. A good horse/rider team are friends, not just master/slave. If you've ever had a dog and taught it tricks, it's pretty much the same thing happening here. Some dogs (the smart ones, mostly) love doing tricks for their owners. Really exceptional horses are capable of nearly as much, and do it for pretty much the same reasons; they like the guy or gal riding them. And they like the attention, just like a dog would; that horse knows perfectly well that hundreds or thousands of people are watching it.

If the horse didn't really like that guy, it wouldn't perform that way. It might do the steps, but it wouldn't have the same energy.

And if you still object, somehow thinking that the horse has been fooled into it or something... it's as consensual a relationship as you can have with a nonverbal creature. If the horse didn't want to do it anymore, they'd find another horse... they wouldn't beat it or anything, that's not how you train that kind of animal. That horse has had plenty of carrots, and no sticks at all.

As to whether or not it's good for it to dance like that, I don't know. You'd have to ask a vet. But just eyeballing it, it looks a lot less stressful than a gallop would be.
posted by Malor at 2:37 AM on April 14, 2007


sigh. "first thing I thought." I even previewed.
posted by Malor at 2:37 AM on April 14, 2007


"Well, that was really nothing at all like the dressage events I've attended, which were timed races through a jumping course."

Are you sure you weren't watching the cross-county portion of an Eventing competition? Eventing combines three events -- dressage ring, arena jumping, and cross-country. That might explain how you're getting "dressage" and "cross-country" conflated?
posted by Alterscape at 3:00 AM on April 14, 2007


Is this where we talk about the plate of beans?
posted by dangerousdan at 3:34 AM on April 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm off to kick my dogs, put lighter fluid on the cats, pee in the fish tank, and put an Elmer's billboard up in the pasture.
posted by maxwelton at 3:46 AM on April 14, 2007


And yet, this wonderful horse lost to Sanjaya riding Heather Mills.
posted by hal9k at 4:43 AM on April 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


My wife grew up pretty focused on horses and competed in dressage seriously for a few years. I'd like to comment on a few things courtesy of some years spent watching her and watching events like the Olympics through her eyes. First, I'd say that it isn't really an elitist sport completely. There certainly are plenty of the idle rich who have very expensive horses, but a lot of horse people (even at the very highest levels) are more likely to be former country girls and boys who grew up loving horses and possess an extraordinary empathy and talent combined with a passion to spend every waking hour at the barn. It was this last bit that faded for my wife as she aged, but many of the riders and trainers that she knows on the Grand Prix circuit are far from rich.

Also, like MrsMaxwelton, she can look at a horse and instantly tell you much about its mood. The position of the ears, the way it holds its head and the way it moves all send clear signals to those who can read them. She hates horse racing, holding that two and three year old horses should not be pushed that hard. She frequently becomes angry at horses on film being "forced" to do tricks that they are clearly (to her at least) very unhappy about doing. If you ever went with her to watch her practice dressage and you saw the horse come thundering in from the pasture to greet her and prance and nuzzle her excitedly as they prepared to get in the ring and practice, you could not possibly doubt that the horse enjoyed their time together.

As Alterscape pointed out, jumping is not dressage, although three day eventing does combine the three major disciplines (cross-country, show jumping, dressage).
posted by Lame_username at 5:04 AM on April 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


ZachsMind says: No need to tie your penis in a knot.

Now you tell me! (And I'm not even going to mention the bow.)
posted by Turtles all the way down at 5:23 AM on April 14, 2007


It sounds like Zach would think me psyching my dog up with the "Rio you wanna go for a walk?!?!? You WANNA??!?!? a WALK?!?!?!" - watching him explode with tail wagging joy, running in circles and climbing all over me with licky obvious cute happiness - then "cruelly" binding him in collar (harness actually) and leash and following his excited run around the neighborhood would be sexual sadism? Since obviously he's bound and under my control, he's been "ruthlessly" trained to go on walks, and certain behavioral controls are required when we do walk.

Because I'll tell you, with the horse I showed for years it was reallty similar - Couldn't sit still before a show, really super energetic, playful, affectionate, THRILLED. And I know this because I have nervous, scared and anxious to compare to, when a mare moved into a a neighboring stall and the poor guy was scared of her (mean horse) and never wanted to go work with her (by "work" I mean "train"). I also assisted in the training of a younger horse for dressage shows, and there was certainly nothing tortorous about it - he also seemed to have quite fun, his physical/mental/emotional limitations were certainly tested and pushed as with any athlete but it was respectful of him as an autonomous, feeding animal.

Comparing THIS to animal abuse, torture, overwork to death, experimentation is just...it makes me sick because the torture of animals is horrible and making any interaction with them appear to be torture is just lame.

Sorry if this is logically lacking, I've been awake about 4 minutes.
posted by bunnycup at 6:03 AM on April 14, 2007


this is the faggiest thing. . . i have ever seen. metafilter, you have outdone yourself in pompous fruitiness.

Ugh. What an embarrassment that that kind of YouTube comment is linked with someone here.
posted by mediareport at 6:34 AM on April 14, 2007


wow. that brought tears to my eyes. what a beautiful connection between man & beast.
posted by tarantula at 6:38 AM on April 14, 2007


You're putting horse shows into a BDSM category?

I'll have you know that my brace of pony girls are excellent at dressage! (NSFW)
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:45 AM on April 14, 2007


I used to ride ponies, and then horses, and then I won the barrel racing competition. Oh, and I was the fastest saddler, too.

I'm really confused, ZM: should I be getting a kick out of these replies or not?

Domestication != domination. It's ok, you can tell your top.

/snark

I loved these vids. I was bouncing along with the first one saying "Oh my God!", and Younger Boy, sitting on my lap, dutifully repeated me every time.

Then I saw the winner, and, well, damn!

Thanks, cerebus19, this made my morning ... bouncy!

Yeah, Younger Boy repeated the "damn"s, too.
posted by lysdexic at 7:36 AM on April 14, 2007


Honestly, anyone who thinks a dressage horse is abused has never spent any time at a show barn. Those horses are taken better care of than I am.

Last night before I saw this post, I took my dog to her weekly training class. As I've mentioned on here before, I put her into an agility class to see if she'd like it. She has a lot of energy she needs to work off. Anyhow of all the dogs in the class, mine somehow has really taken to it. She was the only one that did it all off-leash. It was kind of amazing because I'd tell her to stay and she was like a statue, totally focused on me. The second I said "okay," there was my little dog jumping over jumps and running at top speed through little tunnels... following my hand through weave poles for a treat... then jumping up on a table & lying down immediately with a look of absolute joy on her face. I've never seen her so focused and proud-looking. I was in shock.

The whole experience really did remind me of when I used to ride hunter/jumper horses because it's pretty amazing to feel like such a team with an animal.

Anyhow, before taking her to this class, I didn't really know much about dog agility other than what I saw on tv. But seeing how my dog reacts, when she's doing the activities it's like she thrives on having a job to do. She was very clearly doing something she found fun (that dog LOVES to run) and she very clearly was enjoying pleasing me by doing what I was asking of her. Some of the other dogs in the class, they just didn't get it & weren't into it... they'd wander off or just stop and sit down in the middle. So those dogs probably won't continue on. No amount of training or discipline will make a dog do these things if it doesn't want to or isn't suited to it. Meanwhile, it would be far meaner to MY dog to if I didn't continue the training. It's something she very clearly wants to do... when class was over, she didn't want to stop and go home.

I'm telling this story because the horse in this video is no different, it just seems that way since someone is physically sitting on it and since you have no horse experience you assume that is painful for the horse. Some animals really enjoy having jobs. You CAN tell by a horse's body language what it's demeanor is, if it's enjoying something. That horse is enjoying doing that routine as much as my job enjoys running through tunnels for no reason. Possibly more.

Since you obviously aren't around them much Zach, here's a little tip for you: FYI, if you are ever near a horse whose ears suddenly pin all the way back? That means it's pissed. And if it starts tossing it's head around? And swishing its tail? Well that's when you should get out of the way before it tries to bite you or kick you or something. If this horse was unhappy, that's the kind of body language you'd have seen in this video.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:41 AM on April 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Lovely, that was just incredible. I've been riding since I was seven years old (and that was a long time ago), and I did dressage for much of that time, and wow....ZachsMind...really, you're wrong. I'm the first person to call abusive training abusive, but dressage is all about cooperation and teamwork and reaching a very deep understanding with the horse - the whole POINT of dressage is to reach the point where your cues to the horse are so subtle as to be invisible. ANY kind of animal-related sport can be done abusively, but you simply do not reach that level of performance with anything other than careful, sensitive training - since the end goal is to have the tiniest shift in weight or pressure from the leg or hand movement get the horse to do very complex behaviours, you don't get there with pain. The level of fitness, flexibility and training this horse has is incredible, but there is simply no way you'd get that level of performance from her with abuse.

As to the "westerns don't do that": I give you reining, which is basically western dressage, less formal, but fundamentally the same thing.
posted by biscotti at 7:53 AM on April 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is why I love The Blue. =)

First things aside, I completely understand that some people feel a domesticated beast being overjoyed at expression within the envelope we've contained him is acceptable. We stable and corral the mustang, put a saddle on him and metaphorically break his back. Some horses take to it obediently, and they're the ones we show off to one another proudly. Other horses don't take it well, and they're the ones we use during rodeos to see if someone can ride it for eight seconds without being thrown off.

We break their will. And I was joking about the BDSM reference, but in that world the Subs actually want to be ceremoniously broken, and when done properly there are failsafes to insure that it's a mutual control system and when one has had enough they can stop the 'game' before it gets out of hand. Horses don't always have that luxury. Oh sure, you can tell yourself you understand the creature by reading its body language. You may even be right. At best it's an educated guess.

If you can train a horse to bounce and turn and spin, you can train a horse to not exhibit signs of alarm or distress or displeasure. You can train it to bounce and strut and prance and even whinny on command. You can probably even train it not to poop when it wants to.

I am simply asking you to put yourself in that creature's hooves. Is this how you'd want to be treated?

Oh sure, the original video is darling. Watching a horse bounce to the beat of top forty pop snippets is amusing - even cute. The horse may even be enjoying itself. Within the confines it finds itself mentally, it must find ways within its imprisonment to enjoy its existence - otherwise it would indeed go mad and be put to pasture.

I'm simply not pretending we're doing them any favors. I also don't buy into the pageantry.

We put a leash on the dog and train him how not to pee on the coffee table. This is how we have behaved for millenia. We are humans. We tell ourselves this is a good thing. This is called being civilized. We can't let dogs run around wild. They'd be like wolves.

Do you hear wolves complaining? If they could complain, their only complaint is that we're causing their extinction.

Do you hear a mustang complaining that he hasn't been domesticated? Please! Take me from this wilderness where I can run free! It's dirty out here! I want to be fed and clothed and bathed and kept in a barn! Help!

I'm not saying don't do it. I simply refuse to buy into the lie that it's right. I'm not joining PETA or anything. I think PETA's full of crap. Quite the opposite. Please by all means continue asserting our authority on the animal kingdom. Let's just stop believing this fairy tale that conditioning a horse to bend to your will is heroic and noble.

"I think you're jousting at windmills."

Yes. Yes I am. That's what I do.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:55 AM on April 14, 2007


my job = my dog. durrrrrr.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:57 AM on April 14, 2007


Okay, I give up. Ohhhhmmmmmmmmmmm.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:59 AM on April 14, 2007


Someone's got to defend Zach'sMind, and no-one else is volunteering.

So, the argument isn't that it's natural horse behaviour, right? No-one here thinks horses in the wild spend their time doing line dancing or vogueing? Good.

And everyone must accept that they only do it because they've been trained to do so. Let's assume that all this training is pure positive encouragement, carrots and apples for good horse dancing, and no nasty shouting at animals. The idea that, even then, horses then "like it" is my first objection to the logic of the dressage crowd. It's like saying Pavlov's dogs genuinely liked the sound of bells ringing.

Come on, people, you don't have to be Michel Foucault to see it's a power relationship. People can bend these animals to their wills, to dance to the worst sort of Classics Done Pops, and yes, the dancing is kinda funny/impressive if you don't think too much about it. If you do, you see what's happened is the "horse-ness" of these animals has been destroyed, humiliating them with the absurd extremes of our will.

It's impressive at first glance exactly because it's so far from normal horse behaviour. If I was in a position of power over you, and took you out and made you do something utterly far removed from your nature, would you think that was cool? It's like circuses from the 40s, dressing up monkeys so we could laugh at them.

I guess it shows what feats of technically brilliant exploitation can be achieved with a dumb animal when you sit him on top of a horse.
posted by imperium at 8:06 AM on April 14, 2007


Do you hear wolves complaining? If they could complain, their only complaint is that we're causing their extinction.

How do you know? For one thing, only one wolf is the "alpha" wolf and the rest have to follow it, which means for most of them they are no better off out of captivity.
posted by delmoi at 8:07 AM on April 14, 2007


OK, sorry, I failed to preview and so Zach got to say most of that first for himself.

Even down to the "bend to will" line. I promise I'm not Zach's sock puppet, or vice versa.
posted by imperium at 8:07 AM on April 14, 2007


Younger Boy, sitting on my lap, dutifully repeated me every time.

Is Younger Boy domesticated? ;-)
posted by ericb at 8:09 AM on April 14, 2007


I just went horseback riding for the first time last week, and so I know from painful first hand experience that this is WAY harder than it looks for the rider.

Also, while I enjoyed both vids, I thought the first horse was enjoying it more. The second one was technically perfect, but it seemed more rote, just going through the motions. The announcers had also said (I think) that the music for the winning horse had actually been composed for the horse to match it's gait, which struck me as unfair.
posted by Zinger at 8:15 AM on April 14, 2007


Ok, then. I can see where you're coming from, ZM, I just think you're overgeneralizng.

At some point in your life, you were kept on a metaphorical leash and "trained" to not pee on the carpet. People do the same with their young pets - and some of those pets do it on their own. The difference is that human beings in general are expected (and hopefully allowed) to reach a point of self awareness and consciousness that they can then be let out "into the wild" that we call civilzation.

We can only do some of that with some of the animals on some of the land.

Humans have taken over the world, and while the animals have reserves, we're encroaching on them, with predictable results, like the wolves you mentioned.

I don't go to circuses and I'll never take my children because I know the animals there are tortured. To call all domestication abuse is going too far.

Fine, the animals are "in a prison" and may not get to run in the wild, but if you haven't noticed, there isn't enough wild left.
posted by lysdexic at 8:17 AM on April 14, 2007


I don't go to circuses and I'll never take my children because I know the animals there are tortured.

This is true of many circuses, but not all. The Big Apple Circus is one of the few that has a reputation for treating its animals very well. It's the only circus I'll go to.
posted by cerebus19 at 8:31 AM on April 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Is Younger Boy domesticated? ;-)

*sigh*. Almost. You really don't want to know. We go through a lot of paper towells.
posted by lysdexic at 8:32 AM on April 14, 2007


There seems to be a lot of misconception in this thread, so to clear a few things up:

1. Dressage isn't strictly the realm of the aristocracy. I mean, the idea is simply laughable. When I lived in Nebraska it seemed everyone had at least one family member that owned a horse. Of those, I'd say at least one out of ten of them were into dressage. Now, there may be something to the idea that they were only into dressage because of the aristocratic aura of it, but that's another discussion entirely. I would say, in their defense, that horse owners that practiced dressage tended to be far, far kinder to their animals; rodeo horses, for example, are positively beaten compared to the pampering of dressage horses.

That said, there's an enormous amount of weight placed not just on trainers, but also on lineage. I don't understand it myself; I mean, lineage might make sense in horse races (genetic predisposition to speed or what-have-you), but in dressage the idea seems kind of silly. What, predisposition to tucking in their heads? Predisposition to a high gate? Silly stuff. Anyway, horses that win lots of dressage events can command enormous (crazy-big) sums when breeding-time comes around. It's these horses (and owners) that tend to get written-up in the big dressage magazines, and in general, the kind of person who has $200,000 to spend on some rarefied horse semen probably doesn't shop at the local Winn-Dixie. Then again, most 7-figure NYC lawyers don't, either, and you wouldn't consider them part of the aristocracy.

2. RE: the whole "bending of will" stuff. First off, horses are pack animals (much like dogs) and will look for a dominant leader instinctually. When you train your dog to do tricks, they are looking for positive feedback from the dominant animal. Horses are the same. Horses like to work. This is the hardest thing to explain to people who don't know a damned thing about horses. (Obvious exception for the argumentatively challenged: no, horses that are maimed probably don't like to work, and no, horses probably don't like to do "taxes" or other work they're unable to perform.) The ease of which animals can be domesticated ("broken") is directly proportionate to their pack mentality. There are some animals that cannot be tamed, and these animals tend to be non-pack animals. They aren't interested in the dominant animal, unless that dominant animal is themselves.

3. The whole "dancing chicken" routine of dressage isn't just for kicks and giggles. It's based on combat training for horses in battle. In a nutshell, dressage is the epitome of "horse and rider as one". Notice how the rider isn't leading the horse with the reigns? Notice how they're not kicking the horse? Dressage has no stirrups. A good dressage rider doesn't even need reigns. They control the horse, and all the rehearsed motions, with subtle shifting of their body weight.

This isn't just for the "cool" factor. It's because when you're going into battle on horseback, your hands are tied up holding your shield and sword/spear. The pirouettes are for when you need to attack someone behind you. The levade (controlled rearing) is so your horse can trample opponents in front. Being able to do all of these, on command, without using your hands, could mean the difference between victory or defeat on the battlefield.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:55 AM on April 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


Don't pay any attention to ZachsMind. He's whacked out of his gourd on soy juice. Some other mefites and I are planning an intervention.
posted by vronsky at 9:14 AM on April 14, 2007


We break their will.

ZM, I wouldn't mind you making your arguments if you had actually spent time around horses. 10 minutes around one of these beasts and you'd realize you had no fucking clue what you were talking about. I'm by no means a horse expert, but I've had opportunities to be around them occasionally.

Yes, there is a method of horse training where you "break" them. See the bucking broncos in the rodeo you refer to. Generally though, that's not how its done because they make miserable work animals. The level of trust required for complex work isn't there. Most training instead involves gaining trust and working to the point where the animal is comfortable with wearing its gear, having weight on its back, learning that a bridle means communication, etc . . .

And a bridle isn't some leather torture device, its a way of communicating with the horses. Okay, some can be torture in the hands of an inexperienced or abusive trainer, but that's true of any tool. A bridle is how you tell a 1000lb animal what you want it to do. It can be accomplished by other means - growing up I would occasionally get to ride friend's horses and they would usually be bareback with either just a halter and a rope as a make shift bridle, or no halter at all. I could still direct the horse SORT OF, but no where near when we'd actually put a bridle on. A slight tug and the horse would know to go left. And its not like you're constantly exerting pressure on the horse, you use the reigns when you want to tell the horse to do something.

I'm not going to argue OMG humans and horses are on the same level! Of course humans are in control and the dominant ones. Saying otherwise would be arguing horses have the mental capacity to be our equals and that's just ignorant. But being in control of a dumb animal is not the same as abuse and suffering, as you suggest.

Imperium, horses don't do the crazy dance moves you're seeing here normally, but they are quite playful and frollick quite a bit naturally. In this video you can see a behavior that could be the early stages of dancing to lady marmalade. (Real early, but you can certainly see the high stepping frollicking)

Not only that, you have to remember that these animals have been bred by intent and accidentally to enjoy their time around humans. Those that don't aren't going to be bred and those that have an innate desire to work with humans will perform well and pass on any genes that may relate to that.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 9:32 AM on April 14, 2007


delmoi writes: For one thing, only one wolf is the "alpha" wolf and the rest have to follow it, which means for most of them they are no better off out of captivity.

Huh? If you're not the leader of the pack you might as well spend your life in a 40x60 concrete enclosure that smells like piss and being hand-fed kibble for the rest of your life?
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:43 AM on April 14, 2007


I ride horses at the local rent-a-horse place. Never trained them. The only person I know well who trained horses gave it up because she couldn't stomach it any more. In her subculture of human horse training, the routine was you whacked them with big sticks on their legs.

The video is pretty good with the sound off. The sound was like figure skating commentary, which is something else I do not want to listen to.
posted by bukvich at 9:52 AM on April 14, 2007


Why does your house smell like piss?
posted by dirigibleman at 9:53 AM on April 14, 2007


That said, there's an enormous amount of weight placed not just on trainers, but also on lineage. I don't understand it myself; I mean, lineage might make sense in horse races (genetic predisposition to speed or what-have-you), but in dressage the idea seems kind of silly. What, predisposition to tucking in their heads? Predisposition to a high gate? Silly stuff.

Heh...the importance of pedigree is even more valid with dressage and showjumpers than with race horses. Horses can only perform at the highest levels of these sports if they have the mind and body to do so - the best-trained and best-conditioned horse in the world cannot perform a canter pirouette or passage the way the horse in the video did (which, by the way, was nearly perfect) if they are not physically able to do so - a top level dressage horse must have the correct conformation (the way the body is put together) to even be physically capable of performing the actions truly correctly - conformation is, to a large extent, genetic. A horse must also have the type of brain which allows this level of training and concentration, and which allows this level of control over its body - this again is to a large extent genetic.

You cannot make an animal perform a behaviour it would not naturally perform. Every single dressage move is based on a natural behaviour - it is refined, exaggerated and repeated in ways a horse might not normally do, but all dressage has a basis in natural behaviour (if you ever spend any time watching horses playing in a field, you see the basis almost ever single behaviour you saw in this video). I'll also point out that dressage at the basic levels is intended to improve the horse's fitness and flexibility and ability to understand cues from the rider, all of the behaviours at least at the basic levels have a specific purpose related to this - with the exception of racehorses, almost all of the truly successful horses in any horse sport do some form of dressage in the early stages of training.
posted by biscotti at 10:04 AM on April 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Most people seem to equal present horses and wild, naturally bred and living in the wild horses, as they do with dogs and wolves.

They are simply not the same animals. Horses and dogs have been through thousands of generations of selective breeding, not only for physical traits (strength and/or speed) but also for behavioral traits, like enjoying the vicinity of human beings and enjoying working with human beings.

Zach, you are mixing up "natural" with "original in the wild". For some lines of horses (and dogs) "Enjoying working with human beings" is part of their nature, of their genes. Of course, this kind of genetic character produces a whole lot of variances, that's why exceptional animals are cherished and win contests.

That being said, I have never understood why, when you have horses and riders at this level of mastery and artistry, they still stay confined in such lame choreography and music. Exactly like ice dancing. Puke.
posted by bru at 10:10 AM on April 14, 2007


When I saw the number of comments, I said, "Oh no, a ZachsMind thread."

Just sayin'.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:28 AM on April 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


What's incredibly absurd—and just stupid—is that in ZachsMind's attempt to break our illusions about animals he's anthropomorphizing without restrain and using that as the basis for his criticism. Animals are not humans. They are thinking creatures, have rights we should recognize, and are variously quite similar to and quite dissimilar from us. But they're not humans.

Horses are domesticated animals and dogs are the most domesticated animals there are. You cannot compare them to wolves in the way in which ZachsMind does. Currently evolutionary theory on the domestication of dogs sees their relationships with humans as symbiotic and there's a good argument that dogs are basically wolves that domesticted us. Only until very, very recently in the history of the human and dog partnership have dogs been purely pets. Dogs are still essentially working animals and that's why miss lynster's dog finds so much pleasure in being trained. In return for this work, dogs are better fed than wolves, live longer than wolves, breed more freely than wolves, have more pups than wolves, and have expanded far, far beyond the natural ecosystem for wolves. It's a good deal.

The domestication of horses is much, much more recent, but it's not insignificant. And, as Civil_Disobedient says, as pack animals, horses naturally are dominated by a pack leader and this doesn't make them unhappy. Quite the contrary. All the benefits I mentioned that dogs receive from their partnership with humans are true for horses.

I believe in the rightness of animal rights. I certainly am opposed to abuse of animals. And I don't know that there aren't abusive practices involved in training horses for dressage. For now, I'll take the word of those who've commented above. But I don't find it the least difficult to believe that the horse in this video is having her version of what we call "fun" and is filled with her version of what we call "joy" and "enthusiasm".

On Preview: also what bru said.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:29 AM on April 14, 2007


Zach, if you wear leather shoes, take a dog for a walk on a leash, or can be found eating a cheeseburger, I'm gonna assume you are simply yanking our chains because it's Saturday and you are bored.


(BTW I am assuming you were pottytrained by someone. How dare they control where and when you poop!)

;-P
posted by konolia at 10:32 AM on April 14, 2007


I'm really not getting the wowness of this - it's just... a horse walking funny for a while.
posted by jack_mo at 10:38 AM on April 14, 2007


When I was around 9 yrs. old, The Lippizaner Stallions came to Appalachian State University, in the town I lived in. The show was really pretty boring, (with exception to the light show) when one of the horses got a raging boner and all the southern baptist mothers freaked out and covered their kids eyes. That was one of the funniest things I have ever seen, and it changed my outlook on the rest of the show. But still, all that prancing seems totally unnatural.
posted by rubyeyo at 10:46 AM on April 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


jack_mo: "I'm really not getting the wowness of this - it's just... a horse walking funny for a while."

Jack, there's a lot of discussion in this thread which illuminates quite nicely just what is so impressive about this display, and why it's more than "just a horse walking funny for a while".
posted by Drexen at 10:59 AM on April 14, 2007


Ethereal Bligh sums it up quite nicely. You need look no further than your fellow man to find animals which are comfortable and like to follow rather than lead.
posted by maxwelton at 11:37 AM on April 14, 2007


ZachsMind's argument here is just incoherent.

Dominance over dumb beasts (including unnecessary killing?) Good.
Training=Torture.
Um, no.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:59 AM on April 14, 2007


ignoring the derail

The level of trust and communication between this horse and rider is awe-inspiring. I've ridden a fair bit (dressage and hunt seat), and can only dream of this level. A true and truly beautiful pas de deux.
posted by vers at 12:03 PM on April 14, 2007


I'm with jack_mo, this was disappointing. I read some of this thread before I opened the link and the enthusiasm here prompted me to imagine some very wild ideas. I was picturing total back-flips, 360-degree mid-air twists and the equestrian version of skateboard curb grinds. I guess I wanted to see a freestyle BMX show on hooves. But this, this is just... a mincing horse in braids. My imagination was more entertaining.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 12:04 PM on April 14, 2007


I will say this... while I still think ZachsMind is a little out of his, I totally agree with everyone who hated the music. Blecccccccccccccccch.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:26 PM on April 14, 2007


I liked the music better than the horse walking funny for a while. I feel like I may be missing something.
posted by martinrebas at 12:54 PM on April 14, 2007


If you've actually done (or tried to do) what that horse/rider team is doing, you'd know it's much, much harder than BMX. And it's just as much fun as it looks, when it works.

I'll not add to the shoutdown of ZachsMind -- good fishing, though -- but I will say, as someone who did dressage for choice over jumping when I was younger, that there's just no way to get a horse to do *that* by hurting them. Other equestrian sports are open to the criticism: if you're a ham-handed idiot you can wallop and beat a reluctant horse over a cross-country or point-to-point course, or even through the jumping ring. But a dressage horse has to listen to you, carefully: it's the perfect control of a perfectly trained horse, and the beastie's happy, willing attention is part of the equation. Bullying will get you exactly nowhere.

Besides that, on a fundemental level -- the horse weighs around a ton, and can kick a door in when necessary. A rider weighs less than 200 pounds. If it ever comes to a physical showdown, who do you think is going to win, the animal who can crush you by rolling on you, or the hairless monkey?
posted by jrochest at 1:03 PM on April 14, 2007


Drexen writes 'Jack, there's a lot of discussion in this thread which illuminates quite nicely just what is so impressive about this display, and why it's more than "just a horse walking funny for a while".'

Oh sure, I understand that it must involve a huge amount of training, skill, &c., but I still found the end result completely unengaging, and all the enthusiasm for it at the beginning of the thread a complete mystery. I guess it's one of those artforms that require an understanding of the 'vocabulary', so to speak, before one can enjoy it (like, say, the more avant garde end of the contemporary dance spectrum).
posted by jack_mo at 1:15 PM on April 14, 2007


My daughter has a horse and has been riding for about 12 years. She watched the video and was awestruck because she knows how difficult those dressage moves are - both for the horse and the trainer. She also said that this was a VERY happy horse and one that totally trusts the trainer - you can't train them to do those kinds of moves without a happy horse. The only way I understand it is to compare it to Olympic ice skating - I don't get that either but for people in that genre, it is an awesome experience watching the best. Thanks for the post!
posted by bluesky43 at 1:38 PM on April 14, 2007


I think the big problem with the people who don't recognize how incredible these displays are is that they think it's choreographed. Rehearsed. Like a chicken playing tic-tac-toe, without thought or reason or intention. But that's not the case here.

The rider is signaling to the horse what the horse is to do. They do this with extremely subtle movements and shifting of weight. If you go see dressage riders practicing (without the routine or music), you'd understand this better. With this in mind, look at the video and notice the rider isn't doing any of the traditional "pull the reigns, kick the horse" stuff you might ordinarily connect with "riding a horse." And yet, the horse goes where the rider wants to--and a lot more--without any of these implements.

That's what's incredible about it.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:14 PM on April 14, 2007


I think the big problem with the people who don't recognize how incredible these displays are is that they think it's choreographed.

No, my big problem is that I don't care about the end result: a horse walking funny.
posted by martinrebas at 2:29 PM on April 14, 2007


Announcer (0:31): Look how straight they are!

Not the conclusion I would have come to, but whatever.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:31 PM on April 14, 2007


I don't think it's nice, you laughin'. You see, my mule don't like people laughing. He gets the crazy idea you're laughin' at him. Now if you apologize, like I know you're going to, I might convince him that you really didn't mean it.
posted by bwg at 4:17 PM on April 14, 2007


Are we done killing the messenger yet? Cuz my flame-retardant, bullet-proof underoos are starting to chafe.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:28 PM on April 14, 2007


Sure, if done killing == ignoring
posted by found missing at 4:31 PM on April 14, 2007


Stunning. Thank you. I miss riding horses. Never did dressage, or even much more jumping than a single rail, but there is just something so perfect about riding a horse.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:18 PM on April 14, 2007


What about having 2 horses dancing with each other, then eating hay together, drinking water, and then copulating.

Wouldn't that be something to see...
posted by lathrop at 6:37 PM on April 14, 2007


You know what really grinds my grits? Child-rearing. Being quiet, well-behaved, clean, and well-nourished simply isn't natural! Children are meant to be grubby little shits knocking over mailboxes and scaring the old people. Training them out of their feral state is simply cruel!
posted by five fresh fish at 7:18 PM on April 14, 2007


Dogs are still essentially working animals and that's why miss lynster's dog finds so much pleasure in being trained.

Happy dogs are dogs with Jobs. "Jobs" must be valued from a doggy perspective. Fetch can be a Job. Guarding the yard can be a Job. And running the obstacle course is a Very Important Job!
posted by five fresh fish at 7:26 PM on April 14, 2007


Late as usual to the thread. miss lynnster reminded me about how my dog loved the agility courses too. She was a Manchester terrier, and when she thought we were going to the course that in itself would excite her. When other dogs were on the course she would quiver slightly and make a little high-pitched noise in her throat. Once on the course she got to let both her Terrier Mentality (TM) of utter determination to Get the Prey, and her natural exuberance, shine. Manchies are fast dogs, since they are descended from whippets, and at full tilt from a bendy pipe she looked as if she'd been shot out of it.

At the finish, she would try to go back and start it again. When we finally moved to this house I set up her very own agility course and she ran it, properly and in sequence, over and over again until a few weeks before she died. Our first clue she was really failing was when she didn't want to go on the seesaw any more.
posted by jet_silver at 7:45 PM on April 14, 2007


Wow - a horse awkwardly trotting around sort-of in time to music. Absolutely gob-smackingly incredible. I'm so very very glad I spent three and a half minutes of my Sunday afternoon failing to work out why this would interest anyone, let alone be posted to MeFi.
posted by imbecile at 7:57 PM on April 14, 2007


This is a bit awkward to tell you, but we've already filled the position of troll in this thread. You'll have to move along, but we'll be certain to call you if something opens up. Best of luck.
posted by found missing at 8:09 PM on April 14, 2007 [6 favorites]


Nonsense, found missing. It's not trolling if you really do not understand the point of the post (I'll readily admit that I'm often dim, hence my username). It's some random horse video as far as I can see. I'd never suggest you shouldn't watch or enjoy it, if that's what floats your boat, or that you're in some way a bad person for doing so.

I just don't get the hyperbole ("astonishing", "Best. Horse. Video. Ever"). It's a horse, trotting around in an odd, unnatural-looking way to some exceptionally cheesy music, with two inexplicably impressed commentators doing voice over.

Maybe this is mesmerising if you're deeply into horses or dressage or whatever, but if you're not (and I'd wager that would be a fair percentage of readers, even on Metafilter), some explanation of the allegedly astonishing nature of this clip would be welcome.
posted by imbecile at 8:54 PM on April 14, 2007


Other such horse-y stuff includes Vaulting.

Yeah, that was my crazy childhood sport.

It was always very difficult explaining to people what it was, exactly.

In her subculture of human horse training, the routine was you whacked them with big sticks on their legs.

What the hell kind of horse training is that? No legs = no horse.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:57 PM on April 14, 2007


Hi imbecile, jack_mo, martinrebas, et al...here's a point of politeness that may help you in civil company: whenever you are confronted with an art with which you are unfamiliar, it's better to ask something like, "would you explain this to me," than to pipe up with stuff like, "I don't care..." to understand an ancient and important relationship horses and humans share.

Geez and Pete...and whatall: It took just 100 or so years for folks to forget so much!
posted by taosbat at 9:23 PM on April 14, 2007


Ah, don't stress, taosbat. No one gives a fuck what the trolls are saying.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:31 PM on April 14, 2007


I'm tempted to shoot my pickup.
posted by taosbat at 9:34 PM on April 14, 2007


...it would be better shoot those fools rides than my own...
posted by taosbat at 9:41 PM on April 14, 2007


whenever you are confronted with an art with which you are unfamiliar, it's better to ask something like, "would you explain this to me," than to pipe up with stuff like, "I don't care..."

To my defense, I seem to be the only one here who appreciates the Art of Horrible Midi Music.
posted by martinrebas at 10:23 PM on April 14, 2007


Yeah, probably. Is that something you usually brag about?
posted by miss lynnster at 10:27 PM on April 14, 2007


Fill up yer ipod, baybee. And don't say I've never done anything nice for ya! ;)
posted by miss lynnster at 10:38 PM on April 14, 2007


taosbat : I'm tempted to shoot my pickup.

Ok, I'm now forced to tell a completely off-topic story; A good friend of mine once asked that I provide him with a gun. Specifically a .44 Ruger Super Blackhawk.

I asked him what the hell he needed that particular hand cannon for and he explained, he knew that his '74 Dodge Dart was about to die and he really wanted to act out a scene. One that involved a dead car that was spewing smoke out of the engine, a sad driver that patted the cars hood with great love, and then a moment where that driver put two rounds through the hood, as a mercy kill, before holstering the weapon and continuing to walk down the long and lonely road.

While I loved the idea of the scene, I couldn't in good conscience give a person a real gun to act out a simple scene. Though as a poor camera-man/ director, I hate that I didn't get that shot.
posted by quin at 10:57 PM on April 14, 2007


omg miss lynnster, that is the freakin motherload of mediocre midi music!
posted by vronsky at 11:27 PM on April 14, 2007


Fill up yer ipod, baybee.

Huh. It even features "I Sharona," the little-known song by Derek Jacobi.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:40 AM on April 15, 2007


imbecile: "some explanation of the allegedly astonishing nature of this clip would be welcome."

Dude! There is a ton of explanation of just that in the thread, and I can only assume you skipped past, or are deliberately ignoring it - which is where the accusation of trollishness comes in. If the only way you could find a horse interesting is if it's doing backflips, then what are you contributing by coming in and glibly dismissing everyone's engagement with the topic?
posted by Drexen at 8:07 AM on April 15, 2007


taosbat writes '
Hi imbecile, jack_mo, martinrebas, et al...here's a point of politeness that may help you in civil company: whenever you are confronted with an art with which you are unfamiliar, it's better to ask something like, "would you explain this to me," than to pipe up with stuff like, "I don't care..." to understand an ancient and important relationship horses and humans share.'


Funnily enough, I did read the thread before commenting, so was fully up to speed on why this is indeed technically impressive in terms of training, the rider's skill, and so on - I don't see why, after that, I'm not still allowed to find the performance stultifyingly dull.

(I kind of sympathise with you, since I spend a fair amount of time trying to persuade some of my friends that a small heap of gubbins in the corner of a gallery is good art because of its conceptual underpinnings, art historical references, the process by which it was made, &c., but when push comes to shove, if someone finds the end result visually unengaging, no amount of explication is going to change that.)
posted by jack_mo at 12:01 PM on April 15, 2007


My favorite part about equestrian sports and the snobbery therein is that anyone who dislikes or fails to understand it is immediately and permanently classified as a lower life form, an unsophisticated, tasteless, ignorant clod, and ignored.

This is beautiful stuff. I've ridden for the better part of my life - nearly 18 years, mostly hunter/jumper but more recently dressage also. The musical freestyle/kur has always been a huge favorite of mine, and of course I'm kicking myself for never even once thinking that these videos I spend literally hours watching would make for good Metafilter material. :)

As far as explanations go, here are a couple points to consider, besides the "it takes so much skill" catch-all (which, despite being a catch-all, is nonetheless very true):

- It is not solely the result of the horse's or the rider's skill that this is so impressive. No amount of training can instill in a horse a sense of rhythm, or the desire to follow a beat. No amount of skill on the rider's part can dictate the exact footfalls of the horse. It simply cannot be forced, through "torture," training, or rote memorization. That these animals do so anyway indicates an amazing level of intelligence, their willingness and happiness in their partnership with the rider and in their work, and a surprisingly human-like emotive capability. I'm all for avoiding unnecessary anthropomorphizing, but the fact that an animal is willingly and joyfully -dancing- to music is awe-inspiring of its own accord.

- The partnership shared by horse and rider is also something to be marveled at. In either of those videos, do you ever -see- the rider give any cues to the horse? My guess is, unless you're a rider and have an experienced eye, you only see the rider sitting atop the horse, motionless but for following the horse's movements. The rider does not whip the horse, brutally spur it, or yank cruelly on the bit in its mouth. Instead, he gives the subtlest of commands through changes in weight, pressure on the legs or reins, shifting of the hip bones, even the tiniest twitch of a finger can result in a large change in the horse's movement. In dressage, talking, whistling, clucking, or chirping to your horse - any vocalizations - are prohibited, as well.

It's an incredible level of communication between two so different species, without benefit of verbal language between them. The reins, the rider's seat, and legs are live, practically humming with the connection between the two. Many people believe that the reins, for example, are only used to pull on the horse's mouth and control it - but here, the communication is obviously two-way, and both horse and rider are freely "speaking" and listening to one another with every step and every movement. The harmony of it is something I've never seen equaled with another human-animal partnership.

- Finally (for now, I could go on all day. Wait, I already have. Whoops.), there's the simple fact that the things these horses are doing are not things that every horse can do. Every horse is, theoretically, capable of being trained and conditioned to be able to perform these movements, but your average pasture pony or barn pet cannot come close to this level of balance and athleticism. It takes years and years of practice and training and building muscles to achieve the level of fitness and control shown here. Dressage horses, in the Grand Prix level (the highest level, and the level of international competition), are not considered "mature" until they are between 10 and 14 years old, generally. Their competitive lifespans can stretch late into their life; many dressage horses continue to compete well into their 20s (and a horse's average lifespan is around 25 years). Compare this to racehorses, whose careers are considered over by the time they are four, five, or possibly six years old.

Here's a random YouTube clip put to music, video taken from a breeding farm's promotional materials for their stallions, which has a few nice shots of these horses at liberty. It's obvious that the movements in the ring are natural to the horse, as they perform many of them without prompting when free. [note: some bits near the end are edited by the maker of this clip in order to synchronize the movement to the music. Don't pay attention to those. They should be obvious.]

I'm done for now, and apologies for the lengthiness (and my lateness to this - it figures that I'd be away for the weekend, working at a horse show, when a topic that I can actually contribute something to comes up).
posted by po at 6:09 PM on April 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Cool. Thx.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:38 PM on April 15, 2007


po's eloquent comment got me thinking about my favorite horse and this:
My favorite part about equestrian sports and the snobbery therein is that anyone who dislikes or fails to understand it is immediately and permanently classified as a lower life form, an unsophisticated, tasteless, ignorant clod, and ignored.
I'm not saying that, necessarily; but, I am sad to see how much of our evolution, history, livelihood and art has been reduced to gubbins just since horses lost out to automobiles, or thereabouts.
posted by taosbat at 9:32 PM on April 15, 2007


Either I'm having an especially scary hallucination, or I remember young Wayne Newton doing something like this, only in cowboy gear, and simpler, on one of Lucille Ball's television shows.
posted by pracowity at 4:39 AM on April 16, 2007


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