Sunday, January 4, 2009

Knowledge Gaps

Our Pony Club is getting ready to do Quiz Rally, which is exactly what it sounds like: a competition based on horse knowledge. There's several sections, many based on oral answers but also on practical demonstration, object identification/comparison, and a group section where everyone can confer to come up with an answer.

We had our first meeting today to do a quick rundown of subjects and figure out what areas we need to cover. Everyone ended up with several topics to study, which we'll then present to the rest of the group. I tried to steer towards areas that interest me, so here's mine.

  • Rally rules for Eventing and Polocrosse (equipment, fence heights, elimination rules, team sizes, etc)
  • Communicable diseases (symptoms, ways of transmission, long-term effects)
  • Bits/misc tack (effect, fit, what is allowed at what level of Pony Club)
We went through some sample questions, and I was surprised at how many gaps there are in my knowledge. I know almost nothing about diseases, for example. I know Rhino is an important vaccine for pregnant mares; I know Strangles is nasty and very contagious, but rarely fatal; I know EEE and WEE (eastern/western equine encephalitis) have neurological symptoms....but I really don't know the specifics of each, like how to recognize and treat them or their vectors.

I know the different cheekpieces and mouthpieces of snaffle bits, but I don't know how to properly attach a pelham.

I know next to nothing about poisonous plants.

I can recognize bad leg conformation, but I have trouble giving specifics, like differentiating over at the knee and back at the knee.

I know what the farrier tools are and generally what order they're used in, but I didn't know how to describe a pair of pincers.

I'm still confused about laminitis and founder, though I know the basics.

And I sure as heck don't know much about foxhunting! Some of the sample questions included definitions for "brush," "covert," "view-halloo," and "whippers-in." (Those would be "the tail of the fox," "a place where the fox resides such as forest or brush," "a call made to alert the hunt that the fox has been sighted," and "staff members of the hunt who assist the huntsman in managing the hounds.")

So I'm actually really looking forward to the weekly study sessions we have planned for Quiz Rally. There's some things I need to learn!

As far as I can tell, most people have these knowledge gaps: areas of horse knowledge that you know you should know, but somehow or another you just don't. Sometimes it's things that don't matter so much, like which order a farrier's tools are used in. Sometimes it's things that you really should know, like local poisonous plants and how to identify them.

I'm finding that Pony Club is a good resource for all these little holes, because you're forced to acquire that knowledge in order to rate up -- not to mention everyone is willing to teach you what you need to know.

Do you guys have the same sort of thing I do, areas that you just don't know enough about? Could you be put in a situation tomorrow where that knowledge could make a difference? And where's your nearest horse encyclopedia? ;-)


Leah Fry said...

The gaps in my knowledge form a major crater or canyon. I have so much yet to learn.

smottical said...

It's funny - I'm now reminded daily that the gaps in my knowledge are epic in proportion. When I bought my filly last year I assumed I was fairly knowledgeable, having taken many years of lessons and having owned and trained two previous horses. Yeah, right! While I may know more than the average backyard breeder, there is a ton I would like to know. Last year I spent a lot of time on the FHotD forum learning about conformation. This year I'd like to focus on expanding my knowledge on different methods of starting young horses since that's what I will be doing next year this time.

Stelladorro said...

My knowledge gaps frighten me! (haha, although thanks to one fun fox hunt we went on, I did know a few of those terms!)

I need to get to know the diseases better, we do a mass vet visit each spring and fall to get shots done and about a 50 owners at the barn I'm at split the trip charge. When it's my horses turn I always just say give them everything. (I know, I'm awful!) and then I have to specify that YES, I do want strangles and rabies. Majority of the people up there don't vacinate for those, rabies because it's so uncommon, and strangles because there is a teeny little chance your horse could get sick. But I'd rather accept the chance and make sure they won't catch a horrible case of it later.

MyLittlePony said...

My knowledge gap is huge also, but one thing I need to know more about is what to do for various leg injuries. When to cold hose, when to wrap, when to poulice... Knock on wood, I've never really had to deal with much more than a scrape.

Sydney said...

My degree is going to be equine science. Hopefully my paper on grass founder (which will explain laminitis) will clear up any fogginess

I've been called the walking horse encylopedia. I suck in everything about horses since I was just a wee one. I love learning. I hope I never stop.

However I know a bit about wide disciplines but not specifics, like fox hunting: Something that doesn't happen in my area, at all.

manymisadventures said...

I think we all have much yet to learn, Leah Fry, no matter how much we know ;)

Would you guys be interested in reading posts on what I'm learning for Quiz Rally? I'd be happy to write up posts about it, and I'm sure the extra knowledge will help somebody!

manymisadventures said...

Sydney - when I get a chance tomorrow, I'll take a look at your paper. Thanks for the link!

Sydney said...

Yeah of course. Any horse information is always good information, well when it's backed up by fact at least <_<

Hope you like the paper.

Anonymous said...

My nearest horse encyclopedia is upstairs, 3 feet from the end of my bed and 6 inches to the left. There are 3 of them there, but I'm not sure they contain the fox-hunting terms. :)

I have gaps in my knowledge. But, two good head injuries can help with that. I've definitely forgotten a good chunk of what I knew, and now have to learn things I didn't know before!

I don't know my western bits and now I have a western horse. Guess I have a lot of learning to do! And why are there more western bits than English? And I really want to know why you can't show western in a snaffle. And, and, and!

I'm right there with you, B! And please write up what you learn for Quiz Rally. Not only will it help educate us, but it will help cement the knowledge for you too.

Sydney said...

Oh and like the above. If you want to know anything about bits/bitless/horses anatomy please ask! I love the challenge.

"And why are there more western bits than English?"
There really aren't. Theres a lot more severe bits and differently decorated ones but they are really all the same. Either a snaffle (rein attaches at the height of the mouthpiece) and a curb or leverage (rein attaches below the mouthpiece)

May not be spot on but I don't compete western often:
Competing in western above age 5 the horse ideally should be a finished "bridle horse" meaning lighter cues to get what the rider wants. Using a leverage the rider can send these cues with minimal force....

shoot gotta run, runnin late!

mugwump said...

I have huge holes, plus a wicked learning disorder which makes holding details and names almost impossible. I always kept my library with me where I worked so I could look things up....

Chris said...

That's the awesome things about horses - there's always something to learn!

Everyone has gaps, but having an awareness of what these gaps are equips you to fill them in!

Gotta love the internet for that, you should be able to do a search on poisonous plants in your area, learn more about the causes/symptoms of laminitis/founder, etc.

Good luck and enjoy your learning!

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