Right now there is a video causing a huge uproar. It shows a woman, reportedly Cyndi Plasch, attempting to load a horse on a trailer using a wiffle ball bat. Apparently the horse is refusing to load, so her method for dealing with it means she beats on the horse's rear end with a wiffle ball bat. You can see the video here.
While it isn't unusual to use 'extensions of your arm' such as crops, lunge whips, and the like (sure, I guess even a wiffle ball bat if it works for you) to motivate a horse to get onto a trailer, this video illustrates how such items can be used inappropriately. Rather than pressing the bat against the horse's hind end, or gently tapping it, the woman is instead striking the horse as hard as she can.
There are two things wrong with this. First of all--there is no excuse for excessive force. The video description states that Animal Services says, "...that this would only be appropriate if the horse's life
was in immediate danger, ie if you had to get the horse out of a burning
And I completely agree with that. If it means life or death, then by all means, go ahead and wail on the horse's rear end with that bat. But that is certainly not the case here.
Second of all, you should never lose your cool when dealing with animals. When you lose your cool, you lose control of the situation. Everyone gets frustrated now and then when dealing with animals, but when that happens, you should step away and take a deep breath. I sometimes get frustrated with Limerick when riding--some days, all she wants to do is spook, spook, spook. But when that happens, I ask her to do the one thing I know she can do sanely, and then I finish the ride. That's it.
The worst part of all is this: if that woman is indeed Cyndi Plasch, then that is a shame because she is a horse trainer. A horse trainer, of all people, should know better. A horse trainer, of all people, never lets his or her emotions get the better of them when dealing with horses.
And you know what? That includes being overtaken by love and tenderness, not just anger and frustration. There are people out there that believe the best way to "train" is to smother your horse with hugs, and that is also wrong. You need to walk that fine line and demand respect from your horse while also doling out affection in appropriate doses. That is how you earn your horse's trust, and how your horse earns yours.