Choc's a fruit, but I agree with your sentiment;)
Thanks, whysomad (NCCountrygirl and John Griffin, as well). What is most disconcerting to me is that there are adults who worked at the Farm for years, not months--years, who could've handled the situation better rather than badmouthing Spence. The sad thing is that their word means nothing--everything and all they did means absolutely nothing, without the conviction of putting their name behind what they wrote. (At least the people who did go on record with their names have some courage.) Best regards, Nancy Hanley.
I find it dismaying that former employees who write (eloquently, I might add) re: beefs about safety, etc., don't have the chutzpah to mention their names. You say you all needed jobs; fair enough. But, remember that you were all adults; you could've left if things were sooooo bad. BTW....I'm Nancy. I'm not afraid to put my name here. Why are you?
Whoever told a child to wrap a longe line around her wrist put that child in danger, but I think Spence would be the first person to tell a child to not do that, but rather to bunch a coil so you can drop it free without having to disengage it from your hand or wrist. But I agree that whoever taught (or didn't teach) that child was negligent.
As for cleaning a gelding's sheath, my daughter in all of her time there has never been asked to do such a procedure, nor does she know of anyone who has. However, Spence did show her how to clean a horse's wound, and showed her how you'd inject a horse (to be clear: she did not handle needle).
I agree that you have to be very careful approaching a horse, particularly if its back end is facing you, e.g., if they'te tied in such a way that their heads are facing away from you. When my daughter was 7 and we were visiting a ranch in Maui, I showed her that you never walk behind a horse without letting the horse know you're there; watch its ears and body language. Don't approach a horse whose ears are laying flat against its head. Wait to see if the horse relaxes in your presence--watch the horse's ears, eyes, mouth. When you have the horse's attention, you approach from a the side, making sure the horse can see you (horses have good peripheral and back vision; front vision's not as good). As you walk around a horse, keep one hand on the horse at all times, and speak to it. When you check feet, you keep close to the horse, so you don't get the full force of a kick. Kids have to wear helmets, per state law, I think it's a good idea for kids to wear helmets not just when riding, but also working with (tacking, brushing, turning out) the horses.
My daughter's been working with horses at Spence's since she was eight, and she's learned good horse sense. She rode one of Spence's stallions (who's not there any longer; retired), and that horse was very well mannered.
My daughter just rode at Spence's Farm today. We've read/discussed the artlicle, and we're not afraid to go to the farm. She's been going there for about 6 years now. I can't speak to other people's experiences. However, I know that my daughter woudn't have been going there for six years if she didn't want to! What matters to me is my daughter's experience: she has learned how to ride and care for horses and this has helped her tremendously.
(One thing to remember: many riding places will want you to stick with their stable, if possible. Good instructors take their jobs seriously and, like many coaches, martial artists, etc., appreciate loyalty.)
Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
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