Horsemen don’t do Peer Reviews, they haven’t got time but after many Years and a lot of thought, noting that the Scientists often review Horsemen (Monty Roberts, Pat Parelli and myself) the time has come. I write this also, on behalf of the many Horses I meet, that have been Victims to this and other systems.
The Trigger for my writing this piece, is the fact that over the Years, I have met and had to fix, at least 20 ‘Rearing Horses’, several Bolters and seen many distressed and unhappy Horses, victims of the well meaning Folk who use these systems and are swept away with big words and slick phrases. These numbers are rising as the system spreads, with 3 in a Week recently.
The McLean system (which started off as the ‘Tom Roberts’ system and build upon as time went on), more about that later, has been the cause of an increasing regularity in my seeing cases of aggrieved Horses via email complaints and directly but more regularly of late, watching too many Dressage Horses behaving badly and even a number of F.E.I. Horses, all the way up to Grand Prix Horses, having to be retired or cunningly slid out the back door to save embarrassment and even sold on via slick tactics.
I have watched the progress or not of a lot of Dressage Horses in the last 20 Years and always have the Camera handy. Because of my ability to read the Minds of Horses, that Camera always gets the shot as the Horses always report to me, often Months in advance.
taken from 200 Metres.
LET THE HORSES BE THE JUDGE
Yes, they are the best Judges of all and are never wrong. Almost without exception, Horses trained via this system have:
- Lost their Soul
- Are Sad in the eyes.
- The majority suffering a McLean Term ‘Learned helplessness’
- Have ruined Mouths
- Exhibit their frustrations in Life via two of the highest forms of communication, that of rearing or bolting, and
- are inevitably ‘above the Bit’
- don’t like their Handler.These symptoms are universal across them all. So what is the system??
Well like Tom Roberts, Monty Roberts, Parelli and others, The ‘McLean System’ is just a system of ‘Ground Manners’ It is not a ‘Horse Starting’ system. Sold with the power of the Phd and the use of very big words that many don’t understand.
‘ Response landscape graphs conceptualizing the effects of arousal and effective state on training outcomes of operant conditioning in animal training “
ANY TRAINING SYSTEM IS ONLY AS GOOD AS THE PUPILS CAN ACHIEVE
Now McLean and Karl both passionately believe in their systems, they may be right but the Horse World must come to the realization that any system
“is only as good as the Dummy on the end of it”
and so the more technical the systems, the higher degree of failure on the Ground, out in the ‘Coal Face’ of the Industry, the greater the failure and more the confusion for Horses. This is why I see so many so called ‘problem Horses’.
These systems are a ‘Horse Welfare’ issue.
Both systems come with lot’s of big words, most being ‘Scientific Club Speak’. This is both by intention to impress and as marketing tool. Even if they were the best systems on the Planet, the delivery ensures confusion amongst the Clients. Many of the words and some of the statements, defy understanding by all but the Intellectuals .
Common indicators of Horses from this system can be:
- Horses ‘above the Bit’
- Braced in the Jaw to protect themselves from the Hands of Rider’s
- Having substandard Mouths with little Lateral control.
- Unhappy disposition, obvious stress and no relaxation,
- Hollow Backs, lack of engagement and tenseness shown
- Substandard Muscle development, indicating the failure of the adapting of the systems.
- A dislike for most Handlers’
SO WHAT IS THE SYSTEM?
The basics of the McLean system, started out exclusively as one where the Handler held the Reins of a Bridled Horse, near the Chin and repeatedly jabbed, pulsated, jagged (or you pick the words) the Bit in the Mouth of the Horse, to get it to submit, to stand, to go backwards and forwards or to ‘park’. (stop and stand) All the things we teach the Foal on Day 10 of it’s Life.
I note with interest, having watched at each Equitana since the first , that as the Years went by, the system changed with the introduction of the Dressage Whip as the original jagging on the Mouth wasn’t working well enough during the backwards steps and ‘Parking’ and was not a good look in Public. This tool was then used to send the Horse backwards, when the jagging of the Bit in the Mouth wasn’t working, or as I know, was causing too much crowding of the Handler. (as such systems all do)
No doubt and ironically, Pat Parelli influenced it slightly ( as the Carrot Stick became the Dressage Whip) So the system has been one that has evolved as McLean saw deficiencies with it. It never had a foundation of merit or History because Tom Roberts never had a system either. He too was an ‘intellectual’ and not held with regard by his peers, back then. I have spoken to many of the Old Fellows across Australia and used had to fix many Horses that were not responding to the Floating system, as I have many as well ( which doesn’t control the rear end of a Horse.)
I would therefore submit, that the jagging of the Mouth of a Horse via the Bit rather than being ethical, is ‘cruelty to animals’
Do You Jag on the Mouth of Your Horse?
a fact lost upon all those who have followed the system. It is this aspect that frankly completely puzzles me for any Horse Trainer should know that the jagging inside the Mouth of a Horse, with half a Kilo or more of Steel, makes Horses ‘upwardly mobile in the Mind’ for their one thought must be to attempt to protect themselves. The only way is up or out.
Here another F.E.I. Horse and victim of the system as photographed by me.
HERE IS AN EXAMPLE BY A TRAINER
Habituating a horse to frightening stimuli with “over-shadowing”
Here again, we see the following:
- Horsemanship being taken backwards towards the Old Days again.
- An unhappy Horse
- An ignorance Mouth
- Brute Force on a Mouth, not giving, no lightness and needing a whip. No timing, no ‘advance and retreat’
- A failure to include the Horse in the training process. Bullying it with brute force
- No empathy, no reward.
In fact, I call this “Flooding’ a word the Scientists hate. Flooding being the very reason Scientists started examining Horse Starting systems, such was their dislike of it.
I could go on and on. I have Years of Cases in my Files but I have made the point. Should I be pressed, I shall unleash.
I merely strongly warn Horse Owners’ and Trainers’ to NOT bump a Bit against the Jaws of a Horse.
Everything about the thought is Neanderthal, unfair, unjust and cruel and Barbaric. This is 2017, we are supposed to have come a long way. It is anti training of all things good and complete training of the ‘upwardly mobile Mind’ in Horses, that make them try and escape forward and upwards….or completely ‘Shut Down’ with ‘Learned Helplessness”