Friday, 10 February 2012

The iBex with a complete beginner indoors

Please go to , my new website covering the saddlechariot/iBex and it's uses. This is where you will also find links to all my articles on training, safety, vehicle design and even the weird stuff on cooking and politics.
My new contact details are
and my phone number is +44 7510 736 518

This is by me. This is my blog, not Obama's and it is going to stay that way.

Me being marginally silly decided to take Obama into the Outdoor Mobility Show at Isca House in Exeter. Sue bravely decided to have a go driving, but I don't think she really thought I would ask Obama to go through such a narrow doorway.

I was pushing my luck a bit, but Obama rose to the occasion.
Don't try this at home folks.

Other than that, brilliant really educational day and it was great to see so many novel solutions to access for those with mobility issues.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Please go to , Simon's new website covering the saddlechariot/iBex and it's uses. This is where you will also find links to all his articles on training, safety, vehicle design and even the weird stuff on cooking and politics.
His new contact details are
and his phone number is +44 7510 736 518

Hi there, Obama speaking.

I thought I ought to make it clear that the assumption people are in charge in pony/human relationships is an error.

Therefore when sense is being talked it is probably me talking. Simon waffles on endlessly about his bloody iBex, and currently has an absolute fetish about getting me into the sea, and generally behaves in a remarkably human way, ie irrational.
I am trying to discuss the impact of Black Beauty from one of the same species as the author. Therefore any stuff here on the blog about Black Beauty is by me. Simon's latest stuff, not complete nonsense, can be found here. And here's another bloody picture of me in an environment which obviously lacks even the basic essentials. There isn't any bloody grass Simon, can't you understand.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Sex rears its ugly head.

Please go to , my new website covering the saddlechariot/iBex and it's uses. This is where you will also find links to all my articles on training, safety, vehicle design and even the weird stuff on cooking and politics.
My new contact details are
and my phone number is +44 7510 736 518
Sex rears its ugly head.

Now that's a phrase you can only write in human. Sex doesn't have an ugly head in the horse world. But once you humans get involved it can get very nasty indeed. I am afraid this next bit isn't going to be suitable reading for foals, human or horse, but there's nothing I can do about it.

Black Beauty doesn't mention sex, so why have I even started on the subject. Black Beauty doesn't mention defecation either, but you don't get witty reviewers pointing out that Black Beauty would have had a shit every so often, but every school kid who reviews Black Beauty points out that he describes himself as a colt and he would have been a gelding. They cut my balls off as well. Do you expect me to be pleased, grateful, leap around the field saying, “I haven't got any balls.”?

I can just see one of your modern journalists coming up to Beauty straight after castration, shoving a microphone in his face and asking “So how do you feel leaving your balls in the bin.” They'd have done the same to Duchess wouldn't they, that day the hunt came through our field, “Hey Duchess, how does it feel watching your son having his brains blown out. Our readers really want to know.” Well on the subject of my balls, just come and ask me, if you have the balls.

Simon quotes his brother on the subject of Natural Horsemanship saying that there is no natural behaviour pattern for a gelding. Oh yes there is. You find the bastard who cut your balls off and you rip his off.

Anna Sewell was a product of her generation, writing for her generation. Fornication and defecation weren't going to get mentioned, not if she wanted Beauty's words published, which she did. But maybe, if the topics had been allowed, she might have fought to allow us to have a crap in peace. You do, thank God, let us piss in peace, but for some reason we are expected to crap on the move. Why? I don't see people ambling down the street leaving a trail of shit behind them and all over their legs. Give us a break, are you really in that much of a hurry?

But back to sex. Leaving my balls on one side, just like the vet did, you really do your best to make everything we do, just as nasty as possible. Is that why we have to walk down the streets crapping on our legs, because it matches the sexual practices you force on us.

Read the books on mating for horses, the things you do to us. The twitches you twist round the poor girls nose, or ear, the way you tie one of of her legs up, and haul her tail to one side so a complete stranger can rape her. Is this normal for you lot. It takes about seven of you to screw up what two of us can do if we are left alone in a field. And you have the nerve to call the result well bred.

Christmas is coming so I'll just mention Caslick's in passing. female genital mutilation is one of those things you are apparently trying to outlaw. Read Simon's rant,Dog breeders bad, horse breeders good.  

There's a lot of money forcing incest on us. And the breeders are coining it in, but it is a con, which intelligent people should have noticed, and I, a horse can prove it.
In 1933 the winning time for the EpsomDerby was 2 minutes 33. That was only beaten in 1967 and then again in 1987. It wasn't beaten in 2011.

So all these incredibly brilliant breeders forcing the most unnatural practice of incest on the horses in their care have in 78 years achieved approximately stuff all. How much have the breeders charged for their expertise over all those years? And Caslick's has gone from occasional corrective surgery to normal practice. So the breeders have managed no improvement in speed but a 10,000% increase in female genital mutilation. What were they trying to do? On second thoughts, do I really want to know?

Read Steve Jones, “the Language of the Genes”, or “In the Blood” and try to find one good reason for inbreeding. And don't say to win races. It is absolutely clear that incest is doing nothing to improve the speed of the horse. It is all about selling a sick fantasy about breeds, breeding, well bred....... it is a desperate attempt to gain social class through your pet. The Fell Pony foals who die of diarrhoea (labelled Fell Foal Syndrome until some salesman for Fell ponies got it renamed) because of this fantasy must really think it is all worth it. The Thoroughbred mares must love the idea that Caslick's is all about status. What a tiny sacrifice they make for their owner to be held in high regard.

In the wild we avoid incest. Check the research done on Przewalski's, (and I can assure you that isn't how any horse would spell his name) and you will find that wild herds are MORE unrelated than random chance would suggest.

Incest is a crime in most of the world. Put up a comment on this blog to explain to a dumb animal why it is such a good idea of us.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

A Dog's life is a Pony's dream.

A Dog's life is a Pony's dream.

Christmas is coming, and the adverts are going up, “A dog is for life, not just for Christmas.” And there will be loads of soppy stuff about man's best friend and suitably glamourous dogs frolicking in the snow. That's one thing about Broadband, I pick all this stuff up now.

But I also read some of the serious stuff. Dogs, man's best friends are direct descendants of wolves. I would say some of my best friends are wolves but it would be a lie. If there are any wolves in West Country Zoos, some of my best friends have been eaten by wolves would be more accurate as they fed 700+Dartmoor ponies to the zoo animals for being too common and not having the right papers..

So all these children are playing with all these baby wolf descendants, and these adult wolf descendants, and where is the protective clothing. Where are the weapons, the control systems. There aren't any. You teach your protowolves not to bite the kids, not to bite adults and you do it with body language and treats and rewards.

I watch Cesar Milan, now Simon doesn't entirely agree with some of the things Cesar does, and some of the reasons he does them, and Cesar gets a pretty hard time on the internet for kicking dogs.

Kicking dogs, don't make me bloody cry. He touches them with his foot, and he is doing it to dogs that want to rip the throat out of another dog. He isn't kicking them because he wants to turn to the left, or go a bit faster, or jump some monstrous bloody stripey construction. He kicks dogs that are about to rip the shit out of another dog.

Feel free to kick me if I attack another horse, or if I am trying to rip the postman's throat out. Now that is a training system I could live with. Just calculate how often you have to kick your horse to stop it viciously attacking another horse, or attempting to savage a human being. Total up all the times you have kicked a horse for those reasons. And then count up all the times you have used your boot on a horse's ribs. Now get your Clever Hans counting horse to work out what percentage of the times you kicked your horse were for things for which Cesar Milan gets criticised when he kicks dogs. And then work out the proportion that would get him arrested if he tried it on a dog.

“Cesar Milan kicks dog because he wants it to go faster.” How long would his career survive a headline like that. “Cesar Milan puts metal spikes on his boots before kicking dog in ribs to make it go faster.” There goes Cesar Milan's career.

I was there when Simon was asked by a lady why she couldn't build the same relationship with her horse that she had with her dog. Simon asked, “when you got the dog, did you climb on top of it and kick it in the ribs?” I thought it was a pretty good answer, she stomped off.

You don't tie your wolves up, you don't give your kids weapons, you criticse trainers who nudge a dog with their foot to stop rabid aggression, you say a dog is for life.

And you give horsey kids a whip for Christmas.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Obama again. Learned helplessness this time.

I wish we had a better communication system, between horses I mean. It's no problem in a field, when there is a group of us, and no interfereing humans, but on the road, I can't communicate to the others I meet. Partly Simon seems to think I'm not allowed to just set off wherever I might wan to go, and more importantly, most of the horses we meet, ie Simon and I when we are out in one of his weirdo vehicles, seem totally terrified of me.

That's why I want to communicate, to reassure them, that we won't hurt them. But with somone sitting on top, kicking them, and a lump of metal clogging up their mouths, communication isn't easy, and of course the big problem is the person on top. I watch them. The minute one of us, a horse I mean, gets startled, or scared, we put our head up, its natural. And we stop, because who wants to walk into trouble, and if it looks scary, we turn round and go the other way because we have brains and that is the sensible reaction.

But these idiots on top, the first thing they do is jab the poor sod in the mouth, kick him in the ribs and hit him with a whip. I watch it. Today a horse came past with a bloke on top, and the horse had never seen me before, and certainly hadn't seen the iBex, and Simon looks weird at the best of times, but he went past, nervous, but coping, but he was still stressed. Fifty yards further on something worried him, and the guy hit him, and they went along the road for another couple of hundred yards. Flinch, hit, Flinch hit. From stuff I've seen up on the Broadband, and comments Simon makes, this is normal. This is what you are meant to do. Luckily Simon is weird and doesn't.

But you would think the people could see themselves from our point of view.

We see something strange, we raise our head, stop and assess things, lining up a good escape route at the same time. It's sense. If running is what you do, getting ready to run is vital, and in a narrow lane, if the threat is in front, running forward is silly. So you get tready to turn. But you only do this if you are scared.

So something spooks one of us. We get hit in the mouth, and with a bit, that hurts. The kick and the whip follow fast. So what does a horse learn? that if something new or scary or dangerous appears, we get hit. Mouth sides buttocks. Bit boots and whip. Just pray the shit isn't wearing spurs. So anything new is going to hurt, anything different is going to hurt.

There's a magic phrase I learned from Broadband. “Learned helplessness.” It's got to be the most depressing concept going. If everything you do is wrong, every sign of individuality, every sign you have a brain of your own gets you hit. Flinching gets you hit, stopping gets you hit. Starting when not kicked gets you hit. Not starting when you are kicked gets you hit, too fast too slow, too high, too low, you get hit, that's how you learn helplessness, and you learn to just go with the flow. Shut your eyes, shut your ears, shut your brain, let the bang in the gums, or the kick in the ribs feed straight through to your legs, do what he says, become and extension of his brain, let him become a parasite, controlling you, your every step, your every move...... You will still get hit, but it becomes random, impersonal, you can't move to this beat, you just get beaten and ignore it. As you shut down you learn to do what the parasite wants, let his eyes guide you, his brain, think for you and maybe he won't hurt you as much, but he will hurt you anyway, you have learned that you are helpless.

But it takes time, and skill, of a sort, and courage of a sort, from the human this is, from the parasite, to get you to this learned helplessness. You have to be beaten down into it. Most riders can't do it, so you get frightened, your head comes up, they bang you in the teeth, you stop, they kick you in the ribs and you turn to safety, they hit you with a whip, and you run for safety. Because you haven't learned helplessness, you've learned that something new means pain, that anything new, you get hit, so you learn to fear the new, and after a few times of spinning and running for safety, your rider gives up, and you get sold to another one, who takes you out into new and scary surroundings, and when you raise your head................

So what has this to do with a literary review of one of the most popular works of fiction ever. Well it was never fiction, it was true. Here is Beauty's new partner, after Rory got the shaft through his chest, talking about his nervousness.

"Well, I hardly know," he said. "I was timid when I was young, and was a
good deal frightened several times, and if I saw anything strange I
used to turn and look at it—you see, with our blinkers one can't see
or understand what a thing is unless one looks round—and then my master
always gave me a whipping, which of course made me start on, and did not
make me less afraid. I think if he would have let me just look at things
quietly, and see that there was nothing to hurt me, it would have been
all right, and I should have got used to them. One day an old gentleman
was riding with him, and a large piece of white paper or rag blew across
just on one side of me. I shied and started forward. My master as usual
whipped me smartly, but the old man cried out, 'You're wrong! you're
wrong! You should never whip a horse for shying; he shies because he is
frightened, and you only frighten him more and make the habit worse.'
So I suppose all men don't do so. I am sure I don't want to shy for the
sake of it; but how should one know what is dangerous and what is not,
if one is never allowed to get used to anything? I am never afraid of
what I know. Now I was brought up in a park where there were deer; of
course I knew them as well as I did a sheep or a cow, but they are not
common, and I know many sensible horses who are frightened at them, and
who kick up quite a shindy before they will pass a paddock where there
are deer."
I knew what my companion said was true, and I wished that every young
horse had as good masters as Farmer Grey and Squire.

That was written down for Beauty by Anna Sewell about 140 years ago. 50 million copies of those words have been published. Can't you human's read?

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Obama textual analysis of Black Beauty

I'm meant to be reviewing Black Beauty, not rabitting on about the things that matter to me, and that I have taught Simon to respect. So you have to go back to the text. And it is good English Exam practice , according to Simon, for whom exams are back in the dim and murky past, to quote from the text. But maybe he knows what he is talking about. He still remembers that whips hurt, and he learned that at school.

What matters to Black Beauty? Bearing reins, you all remember that, Ginger's descriptions of the horrors inflicted in the name of fashion from forcing a horse to hold its head in an unnatural position. Bearing reins are a recurring theme throughout Beauty's book. Beauty and Ginger's “good” master sold them to a man, sorry an Earl, and therefore a man wortthy of respect, whose wife insisted on cranking up their heads with the bearing rein. 

This was the start of the slippery slope for both of them. Bearing reins crop up four or five times and never with a good word said about them. But nobody insists today that horses carry their heads in a particular unnatural position while performing arduous tasks. That would be cruel. Dressage horses CHOOSE to hold their noses against their breastbones while poncing around to music. 

What else does Beauty mention? Bits are described in detail, and anyone who thinks Beauty liked having a lump of metal jammed in his mouth can try reading his book. Cruppers are difficult to explain to those poor creatures without a tail, but just imagine your backbone continued a bit, and that you had stiff noose put round it and pulled up towards your head whenever you were trying to slow down. If you haven't got a tail, it's just too difficult to describe, but Beauty's position was clear. he didn't like them. 

Shoes, heavy, restricting and nasty. Blinkers are another recurring theme, pointless dangerous fashion accessories, and Anna Sewell suggested that training as other countries do, without them, would be a good idea. Now that takes courage. In England, in the middle of the Victorian era, at the top of the Empire building phase, when the English went everywhere to show the natives how to do it, for a respectable, middle class woman to suggest that foreigners can do something better, that is braver than charging with Captain to the guns at Balaclava. 

Hunting gets a brief mention, and since it kills Beauty's brother in front of him and Duchess, their Mum, and kills the Squire's son and probably also the hare, one of their hares, from the plantation, all in the space of two pages, we can assume that hunting wasn't Beauty's or Duchess's idea of a fun pastime. 

Docking tails gets a well deserved savaging. It was a savage practice, but had stopped by the time Sir Oliver explains his pathetic stump of a tail to Beauty. 

So does Anna Sewell mention whips when translating Beauty's thoughts. 

The Penguin Popular Classics edition published 1994 has a biography of Anna Sewell on the inside front page. It states that “Characteristically she never used a whip o her own horses.” So maybe Beauty will have something to say on whips. He does. Out of 210 pages, 35 mention whips. 

Three of the mentions of whips are neutral. The squire “never uses a whip if a horse acts right.” John Manly, the Squire's groom, when first riding Beauty “gave me a light touch with his whip and we had a splendid gallop.” When Beauty is a job horse, he describes one good driver who removes his curb, shifted the reins on the bit to the gentle setting “and then with a light feel of the rein, and drawing the whip gently across my back, we were off.” 

You can find the rest yourself. I have quoted the nice ones, the ones I feel like writing down. Read Beauty's comments, he doesn't use the sort of language I would like to use to decribe what is done, not only the pain and suffering, but the sheer pointlessness of it. If there is one theme that runs through Beauty's story in a way that nothing else does, it is the pointlessness of cruelty, and the whip is the favourite example of this. 

The first 20 pages don't mention whips in a bad way. But they then feature in 10 of the next thirty pages. From page 50 to 96 you only get one mention, but in the next 107 pages, 23 mention whips, only one in a neutral way. From the time Beauty is lying almost dead in the street, having been flogged uphill with an excessive load, till the end of the book, no more whips. Neither Farmer Thoroughgood, nor Little Joe at the Blomefields, saw any point in whips. 

It would take an impressive mathematician to say that either Black Beauty, or Anna Sewell saw any virtue in whips, and the more obvious conclusion is that whips are vicious, pointless and stupid. And you accuse Simon of being obsessed about the subject. The author and translator of the biggest selling horse book ever, are just as rabid on the subject, though their language is rather more moderate. I keep coming back to whips because in a review of a book where over 15% of the pages mention the subject, avoiding whips would look very odd indeed.

No other negative topic comes close, alcohol gets its mentions, bearing reins, and savage bits, ie any bit in a horses' mouth, but none of them come close to the subject of whips. Kindness, loyalty, honesty, gentleness, love, they all come well up in the ranking and together probably outnumber whips, but it is close. 

Can I make one very gentle suggestion, read the bloody book and read the bits about whips. Then argue. If you still feel like it. Beauty was frighteningly honest, and Anna Sewell did a remarkable job getting his thoughts on paper. But don't let your kids read it and then clamber on your horse, booted and spurred, whip in your hand, and expect them to respect you. Whips and spurs produce fear, they don't produce respect. That's something you have to do for yourself. Anna Sewell earned respect. Drop the whip and you can do the same.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Obama reviews Black Beauty

Obama reviews Black Beauty

 I feel it's time I had my say. Simon has been rabitting on about what I feel, what I like and what I think for nearly three years now, and it's my turn.

I am following in distinguished hoof prints, Black Beauty's work, translated by Anna Sewell is well up in the all time best seller lists, but after nearly a century and a half, it's time for another of us to make a few waves.

Simon has been doing what he does best, upsetting people, with his comments on whips and Tesco's. I can't comment much about Tesco's, they won't let me in, but I can comment on whips, and Simon is right. I hate them. Just out of interest, who, among the people, horse or human, that they are USED on, likes them?

But backtracking a bit, I apppear to be a pony, and I appear to be writing stuff on a computer. I can see where the confusion comes, but you are forgetting the magic of Broadband. Now I know it is an article of faith with you humans that you created Broadband. We all have our creation myths, but it is obvious to me that humans don't understand it, or know how to use it. Just ask the next human you see how Broadband works. Listen to their answer and then try saying sincerely, “well if that's how it works, it must have been invented and built by humans.”

When I first realised I could sense Broadband, it opened up a whole new, and very weird world. But just recently I have discovered I can put stuff, words in particular, up on Broadband. The main problem is getting access to an account. Without an address, you can put stuff up, but nobody human can see it. So I am using Simon's account.

Simon is odd. The intelligent ones among you will have sussed this out already. He likes writing, and reading, but won't read what he has written. Which explains a lot of typos. But it means I can put stuff up in his name and he will never notice, or if he does, will just assume he has gone mental.

Black Beauty was lucky, Anna Sewell was incredibly sensitive, for a human, and allowed Black Beauty to get his story up pretty accurately. With Broadband, and a weirdo like Simon, I can achieve something, nothing to rival Black Beauty's story, but a review of the impact Black Beauty should have had, and hasn't. A story of journeys, physical and spiritual, of pain and some pleasure.

Yes, it's a savage journey to the heart of the equestrian dream.

And we'll get into the whips soo enough. You all know I'm going to, Simon's written enough about me and whips. I think most people know Simon's opinion. And he's pretty accurate. Maybe his language is too restrained, maybe he doesn't focus enough attention on the subject, but on the whole he's right. They bloody hurt.

Extension of my arm, yes, and when a horse kicks you with some lump of metal that you have had nailed to his foot, do you just say it's an extension of his foot, and he's just tapping you, it's just a signal. No you bloody don't. You proabably lay in with the bloody whip to teach him a lesson. A whip's a weapon.

Black Beauty didn't like them, but then who does. Black Beauty didn't like lots of things, but you humans have forgotten. You remember the fire scene, and the bearing reins, and maybe the trains in Black Beauty's first field. You forget the whips. Go back and read Beauty's book. Where does he say, “Thank God, a man with a whip, at last I will get a clear signal.” Where does he say, "and the man brought out an extension to his arm because I couldn't see his proper arm?"

Whips, bits, blinkers, cruppers, shoes, stables, hunting........ Black Beauty didn't like any of them. The bearing rein was horrible, sorry is horrible. At Anna Sewell's funeral, the horses were in bearing reins until her mother complained. Go to a miniature horse driving event today and they will use bearing reins on pnies so small they would fit in your pocket. Maybe they are right. A bigger animal might kick their teeth in. These miniatures would struggle to kick much higher than the ankle.

Side reins, bearing reins, chiffneys, gags, martingales, there are more bloody devices to hold our heads in the position YOU want them in than ever before. But try asking whose head is it? You fill our mouths with lumps of metal. Read Toni Morrison's “Beloved” and when you get to the relevant bit, (oh what an exquisite pun, and created by a mere pony) go out to your pony, or horse, and stick a bit in its mouth.

This isn't a catalogue of the bits of Black Beauty's book that have been ignored, though it's quite an achievement for the most popular horse book in history by such a massive margin, to be so comprehensively ignored. But humans pretend Black Beauty as a children's book, like Animal Farm, and Gulliver's Travels and Uncle Tom's Cabin. Few remember that in the USA Beauty's book was sold as “The Uncle Tom's Cabin for horses.”

None of these books are children's books. Beauty's story, like Eliza's in Uncle Tom's Cabin, is one of betrayal. Betrayal by those we are taught are worthy of respect. They are tales of class war, and gross inequality, where the light of humanity shines brighter, the lower you go. They are great books, and should be read by everyone, not stuffed in the children's shelves to be ignored by those with the power to improve things.

Look who wants the whips, is it the poor and the downtrodden who teach ten year old children to be comfortable holding a whip in either hand, and then test them on this ability before they allow them to progress further in horsemanship. Maybe where slavery is the norm, rich children are tested on their handling of the whip, before they can join the ranks of the great and the good..

Simon dug out a lovely bit on horsemanship from an old book on coal mining.

"Half a dozen laden waggons" says Sir George Head "are dragged along the railroad to the particular drop then at work, by a stout cob, which is then ridden carelessly back again, barebacked by a small boy, at a shambling trot; notwithstanding that the interstices between the planks below admit, here and there, full two inches of daylight. However the pony proceeeds, clattering on unconcernedly, otherwise than by holding his snout close to the floor, the better and more cautiously to observe where to place his feet at every step.
.............The beast when I witnessed his performance, had only a halter on his head, without winkers, or any harness except collar and light rope traces. As soon as the boy had fastened the lock of the trace to the foremost waggon, the pony invariably turned round his head, as if to enquire whether all was ready,and then, exactly at the proper moment, commenced his march, the load, meanwhile, rumbling after him: arrived at the drop, the carriages being detached, he here stood jammed close to the wall; shewing perfect cognizance as the carriages passed him, of the degree of attention due to the various noises and manoevres going forward, and not only being aware when it was proper to step out of the way, but how long precisely it was safe to stand still."
I could work with that boy. 
I will be back with more when Simon isn't concentrating, or maybe when he is. It is hard sometimes to tell the difference.