DAVIDOFF THE SMART HORSE
Finally, we get to my story. My name is "DRACHENSTEIN" (who would have guessed). Although this name is indicated in all of my papers - because I am a very noble Bavarian warm-blooded horse - the dilettantes just call me "Davidoff". Like the cigar please not, like the perfume.
Sometimes, during my absence, those ignorant on the subject of Bavarian warm-blooded horses would ask my rider questions such as, whether or not he also had a saddle (seemingly confusing my race with brewery horses (remark of Wolfgang: in Germany and Switzerland "bawarian" is often seen in context with "beer" ;-) and, to my dismay, my breed was sometimes not even mentioned. Double snort!
Now, my character is something human beings neither recognized nor knew how to appreciate. In earnest, imagine that you had to carry someone around on your back - sliding back and forth - and, it got even worse…
You are locked in a stuffy, small stable box for 23 hours a day (in which you can just manage to turn around), and you could almost go crazy from boredom--as thoughts spin around in your head.
Suddenly, a person appears, opens the box door - freedom, the world - and jumps onto your back.
What follows then, is really asking too much: you are not permitted to sniff the ground nor look from left to right, or even gossip with the other horses (let alone gallop through the prairie).
Instead, a drill is in order! Problems follow when, due to the constant dull pain in your mouth caused by the insensitive pulling of the reigns, you do not act as a human being thinks you should.
What does a horse with character do in this situation? Well, in my case, I simply decided to ignore my horse's cooperative nature and fall into
At any rate, I am very proud of my character strengths: when I have resolved not to do something, one can try to tempt me with feed, beat or whip me: I will spurn the feed and endure the pain with contempt. But I would never change my mind.
My new owner - one of the few who was not impressed by my occasional fits of madness - evidently did not enjoy a strict style of riding either (no constant pressure from his legs or an endless pulling of the reigns). No, I think that he too, preferred to ride in a somewhat more relaxed manner.
What happened shortly after I was brought to him?
Look at the terrible condition they delivered me in - they even shaved my head!
Suddenly, I found myself once again with a bulky, heavy saddle strapped to my body as well as with a horseman, who thought himself to be from the Wild West.
At this point I had to smile and ask myself, are we in a circus?
But other things started to change as well: all of a sudden, I had the freedom to turn my head - even the rider's legs no longer constantly pulsed against my stomach. What a new experience!
Even though my horseman was not any less strict - because I was also given the opportunity to do something "wrong", I quickly learned which of my movements he did not prefer. Before this experience, my mouth had always been tugged at, so that I never really knew exactly what was going on!
Obviously, I was turned into a western style horse almost overnight, which also meant, that I had to take more responsibility for myself.
And please, no comments about how "…at a 170 cm, the horse is far too large to be a western style horse… ": I think these are just rumours!
I can manage to walk backwards as well and across even the smallest "L" ideally designed for Quarter Horses - even before breakfast ;-)
And I can even fit through this old gate even after I have already had my breakfast.....
But THERE IS NO WAY that I would I ever consider simply running over this "bridge": my goodness, who knows what could happen.
An important part of me becoming a western style horse was, of course, that what we in Switzerland call "ground work" (Remark: Usually here in Switzerland and Germany the training takes place mostly in the saddle - we also normaly don't have "coralls". During what I call lack of a better english word the "ground work" the horseman does not ride the horse, instead he "plays" with the horse standing on the ground).
My human was of the opinion that you could only undertake to ride on a horse's back if did before enough "ground work" toghether with this horse you want to ride.
This was a very important feature for me since, by paying full attention to the people, I learned that there is not just something uncomfortable and screaming sitting on my back but that working together with them was actually possible.
We, (my rider and myself) accommodated each other relatively well once it became clear to me exactly what he expected from me (after many discussions and his visit to the hospital ***ggg***).
We struck the following deal: the reigns would no longer be pulled all the time (now, as in western style, the reigns fell loosely), and I simply had to executed each of his instruction on my own until a new instruction was given (in the dressage style you have to instruct and control each step of the horse - I guess there the people do not believe the horses to be capable of taking this responsibility).
It may seem like I am splitting hairs here,
but there was a marked difference! It also had a positive effect with regards to my self-confidence.
I, who would have never thought to gallop at the head of a group of horses (this position seemed like
a command to commit suicide), even took over the lead! Oh, was I ever proud of myself…
Watch me: this is my normal setting and this is me
doing a full-blown wheeze. Isn't this cool?
The whole process naturally took longer than what I described above. Nevertheless, the result was that my life and my sense of self as a horse completely changed.
In comparison to my earlier days, when I would only walk backwards with help, I was now, with the reigns loosely held and without seeming influence from my rider, able to walk backwards without a hitch! I also really like it, when onlookers would watch and admire me!
Imagine the scene during one of our outings! While the riders laboriously held the reigns of their horses with one hand and their obligatory "outing" beer in the other (that with every movement of the horses' heads lead to nervous tugs of the reigns and the occasional spilling of a drink), I was allowed to stand in front of the restaurant by myself without being bothered. Since I had now learned not to run away, I was permitted to scratch myself when I felt like it, I could turn my head when I wanted to and feel great. I just had to be careful, not to step on the reigns that had been placed on the ground.
Should I sometimes forget and (of course totally instinctively) wander in the direction of a luscious meadow, it was generally enough (not always, but most of the time) when my beer happy humans said "whoa", to keep me from wandering off.
After I had spent nearly half a year living in a guest stall (referring to my experiences mentioned above), some nice people took me to their farm.
When I arrived at the farm, I of course took the initiative to explain the new hierarchy to the other three horses there and I was met with little opposition.
About two years ago, a mule also came to join us (our playmate), with whom we have a lot of fun…
... bye - we're in a hurry to go to the meadow!
The farm is a real paradise for us horses. Although we still have stable boxes here (at least they have real hay rather than that dumb animal bedding in it), we are allowed to roam the yard at will and watch the dishes being washed through the kitchen window. Or, is it the humans who are watching us watching them while washing the dishes? Who knows....
When it is not raining, we are always allowed to go out to the meadow - as well as stay overnight during the summer - isn't that something?
Charlie and Davidoff, the two clowns ;-)