Life is too short to ride the wrong horse

bitofbritain-Week1

 

Life is too short to ride the wrong horse

I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve had a lot of good horses– not “good horses” because of talent, but appropriate horses for where I was in my riding career.  I began Eventing on a 15hh foundation-bred Quarter Horse, Casey.  What Casey may have lacked in talent or dressage-winning gaits, he made up for with enthusiasm and work ethic.  He taught me that cross-country should be FUN, and jumping should always put a smile on your face.  Otherwise, why do it?

The confidence I gained from him set me up well to start with a willing, trainable green horse.  Before I committed to buying Mack, though, I had to know one thing: does this horse LOVE cross-country?  Mack, a former barrel-racer, was the type of horse who always wants to please– he would do anything you asked, just because it would make you happy.  However, I was worried that sooner or later, his generosity may wear out if he was only jumping cross-country because I asked him to.  Eventually the jumps would be bigger, scarier, and I had to know he wanted to do it as much as I did.  After all, you can’t MAKE a 1200lbs animal jump something it doesn’t want to.  As I found out on his first serious cross-country school…his heart was in it.  A horse who loves his job is one to keep.

I’m not going to say my cross-country record with every horse has been perfect– of course not, we all make mistakes, and horses do, too.  Green horses will have green horse moments, and riders may take a fence for granted or do something silly to mess up.  It happens.  But overall, you should feel like your horse WANTS to do the job with you.  Not because you ask him to, or because the option of not jumping is unpleasant (!).  The horse should seek the flags on cross-country, galloping (at whatever speed) with eagerness to find the next obstacle.  And when the jump appears, his ears prick, his balance lifts, and he revs the engine, taking hold of your hand and saying “Come on Mom, we got this!”  It’s like an excited little kid in a toy store, dragging his parent from one aisle to the next with wide-eyed glee.

Not all horses will start out that way.  It’s understandable that green horses will be unfamiliar with the concept and have concerns about this new task of cross-country, wondering “Why are we doing this? You must be insane. Horses aren’t meant to jump ditches/cross water/drop off banks and all that crazy sh!t”  But if the rider keeps saying, “Come on you can do it!  It’s fun, I promise!” and praising profusely for the smallest effort, pretty soon most horses catch on and come to enjoy it.  There’s nothing better than having a horse “strut” back to the trailer full of pride after finishing cross-country, feeling like King Kong.

 


 

That’s how it should be.  But what if it’s not?

Many riders struggle with their horses.  Sometimes it’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole; the horse just doesn’t want to play this game.  “But he’s so nice/fancy/talented/athletic/bred to do it/bought to do it…!” as the excuses go.  Riders try to convince themselves that “if only” they ride better and take more lessons, or buy a custom saddle, or inject the hocks, or call the chiro/massage therapist, or find some physical ailment to explain why things aren’t working…maybe that’s the answer.  It’s true, all riders COULD ride better; and some horses do suffer from a physical problem that impairs their ability and might cause bad behavior.  It’s a great idea to call your trainer and talk to your vet when things go wrong.  But if you’ve been down that road enough times that you don’t need a map. and ruled out those possibilities, you might be faced with a hard decision.

Maybe you and your horse just aren’t meant to be.

That’s not saying you are a terrible rider and your horse is horrible.  But face it: if you have more bad rides than good, if you feel like throwing up before cross-country, and if you end every lesson in tears… well, life’s too short for that.  There are TOO MANY good horses out there who may better suit you and your goals.  You might have to compromise on something– if you don’t have unlimited funds, you may have to search for a horse a little older, or a little shorter, or a little less fancy than your ideal.  But keep looking until you find the horse that WANTS to do the job WITH YOU, at this stage in your riding career.

Your horse may be a great match for someone else.  Maybe your horse is too strong or too advanced for your ability, and that feeling of getting dragged to the fence terrifies you…so (unfortunately) you instinctively snatch his face and lock your elbows.  This pisses your horse off, and he begins refusing out of frustration. Your confidence plummets down the tubes, you anticipate him stopping, and it’s a vicious cycle. A horse who needs a little kick might suit you better; and likewise, your horse would be happier with a rider who is brave on a long, loose rein.  Or maybe your horse is a chicken, who is just happy (thankyouverymuch) to stay in an enclosed arena doing dressage or hunters, never seeing a real ditch or jumping into water.  There’s no shame in admitting when things don’t work out.  Don’t make yourself or the horse suffer because your pride tells you to keep perfecting the imperfect when it’s clearly not working.

Is it hard to admit failure?  Sure it is.  We grow to love our horses like family, and it’s painful to write a sale ad for a family member.  If you can afford to keep the horse as a pet, great.  If you choose to change your riding discipline to better suit his strengths, go for it.  But if you are dedicated to being an eventer, this sport is too dangerous to risk your life with an equine partner whose heart isn’t in it 110%.   Life is too short to ride the wrong horse, there’s too much out there to enjoy looking through the right set of ears. 

Scroll for more top stories on Eventing Connect

2017’s Most Fascinating Eventer – Selena O’Hanlon | Eventing Connect   2017’s Most Fascinating Eventer – Selena O’Hanlon After being named to the 2016 Canadian Olympic Team, Selena O’Hanlon was looking forward to competing in Brazil with Foxwood High (Woody), owned by Judy and John Rumble. In a controversial move during training camp, the Canadian selectors citing soundness iss…

Friday’s Fashion – Bell boots that will keep your horse protected and stylin’ | Eventing Connect   This series features fashion “must have” items for riders and their horses. Tune in every Friday with your (or your parents’ or your significant other’s) credit card in hand,  for some excellent fashion finds. Let’s bring style to the Eventing world!  I have not personally tested all of the featu…

SeminoleWellness2017_770x170

When your horse’s balance is a little too ‘uphill’ – VIDEO Break | Eventing Connect   When your horse’s balance is a little too ‘uphill’ – VIDEO Break You have probably heard your coach tell you to put your horse in a more ‘uphill balance’ or tell your your horse is plodding around on its forehand. This horse definitely does not struggle with shifting its weight to in its haunches… &nbs…

How YOU can improve Eventing by voicing your opinion | Eventing Connect   How YOU can improve Eventing by voicing your opinion Have you ever attended an event and thought to yourself, “Wow, the course design here is confusing,” or “I wish the bathrooms were cleaner?” Do you wish someone was listening to your concerns? What can you do? Guess what, you’re in luck!  For every ev…

Jump 4 Joy ad-3-770x170

Lifesaving tips for competing multiple horses – WITHOUT a groom | Eventing Connect   Lifesaving tips for competing multiple horses – WITHOUT a groom The world’s top riders frequently roll into events with over six mounts but these pros all have at least one groom. Their grooms tack up their horses and they just have to ride. This makes competing so many horses possible. But if you are a …

Watching this miniature foal in action will make you smile ear-to-ear – VIDEO Break | Eventing Connect   Watching this miniature foal in action will make you smile ear-to-ear – VIDEO Break Foals are cute and so are miniature horses – combine these two factors and you have a total cuteness overload. This little guy’s antics will melt your heart and bring an imemediate smile to your face…     …

Five tips that will make you a successful equestrian – Sponsored by Back on Track | Eventing Connect   Great for muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints. Products for horses, dogs and people. Visit www.backontrackproducts.com   Five tips that will make you a successful equestrian – Sponsored by Back on Track I am 23-years-old, which I think is young in the horse world considering most Olympians are over …

Captions are in and so hilarious you may pee a little. Vote for your favourite! | Eventing Connect   Captions are in and so hilarious you may pee a little. Vote for your favourite! In 2017, we captured some remarkable images at horse trials all over North America. Last month, we asked our readers to caption the photo above for a chance to win a T-Shirt of their choice from Shop ATTITUDE. With over 100 entrie…

Role reversal: Lunging edition – VIDEO Break | Eventing Connect   Role reversal: Lunging edition – VIDEO Break All equestrians have spent many hours lunging horses for various purposes. But have you ever been lunged by your horse? This clever mount has reversed the roles and is helping his owner get in shape for the 2018 season…    

Accomplish your riding goals with these nine tips to prioritize your spending – Sponsored by MD Barnmaster | Eventing Connect   MD Barnmaster is the leader in custom designed barns, horse housing, professional equestrian facilities, horse stalls, modular buildings and barn accessories. Build A Better Barn. Contact MD Barnmaster today.   Accomplish your riding goals with these nine tips to prioritize your spending – Sponsored …

Tuesday’s Top 10 – Reasons most equestrians are single | Eventing Connect   WARNING: Only read if you have a sense of humour Check in every Tuesday for our Top 10 list that could feature just about anyone or anything related to Eventing. No rider, owner, coach, or nation is off limits. Remember: “Life is a tragedy for those who feel and a comedy for those who think.”   …

Not your everyday gallop – VIDEO Break | Eventing Connect   Not your everyday gallop – VIDEO Break Riding a horse at high speeds isn’t easy and neither is shooting a bow and arrow. Combine these two things and you have one seriously challenging activity. This rider/archer could definitely survive a zombie apocalypse with ease…    

Eastern Hay 770x170-March

Does your horse have the letter ‘F’ in its name? Enter to win a custom Perri’s halter | Eventing Connect   Does your horse have the letter ‘F’ in its name? Enter to win a custom Perri’s halter We are thrilled to partner with Perri’s Leather and bring you a monthly contest to celebrate horse names and have some fun. Starting in March of 2017, readers like you have have been winning beautiful halters by submitti…

Last Week TODAY | Eventing Connect   Last Week TODAY Catch up on interesting tidbits that you might have missed last week. We work hard to catch all the good stuff so you don’t have to.   When your mother is a legend… Can’t find staff anywhere these days, absolute rubbish turned up to hack out my babies with me today…

No equestrian can watch this without cringing – VIDEO Break | Eventing Connect   No equestrian can watch this without cringing – VIDEO Break Blanketing season is well underway in many parts of the world. Many paddocks are mud-free because they are buried in several feet of snow and ice. However, some unlikely equestrians are dealing with very muddy fields and filthy horses. These cheeky …

Eventing absolutely slaying it again on Instagram this weekend | Eventing Connect   Eventing absolutely slaying it again on Instagram this weekend Instagram connects the world through photos and eventers love to share their lives on this social media platform. We have found Eventing pics from every continent in the world on Instagram. This is your chance to check out the entire world of event…

Buying a new horse? Use these six tips to assess its record before you buy | Eventing Connect   Buying a new horse? Use these six tips to assess its record before you buy You are looking to buy or lease a new horse. How do you consider its competition record? Before you think about going to try a horse, you should look up its record. This will save you time and travel expenses because it will give you a…

How equestrians spend money compared to normal people | Eventing Connect   How equestrians spend money compared to normal people If you are a rider or horse owner, odds are that you are not rolling in money. But you are not impoverished either. You are probably considered ‘horse poor’. This means you spend all of your hard earned money on horses so you have none left for ‘normal’ pur…

This tiny equestrian has big talent – VIDEO Break | Eventing Connect   This tiny equestrian has big talent – VIDEO Break This little girl is a natural in the saddle. Her legs don’t even reach the end of her saddle flaps but she has no problem riding her full-size horse. Who needs a pony? Watch for this kid in the Olympics in like 20 some years…     ♥…

Fashion ALERT – Custom halters that will look perfect on your horses | Eventing Connect   This series features fashion “must have” items for riders and their horses. Tune in every Friday with your (or your parents’ or your significant other’s) credit card in hand,  for some excellent fashion finds. Let’s bring style to the Eventing world!  I have not personally tested all of the featu…

bitofbritain-Week1

Take the quiz – 13 ‘Would you rather’ questions all equestrians will struggle to answer | Eventing Connect   Take the quiz – 13 ‘Would you rather’ questions all equestrians will struggle to answer If you an equestrian, you’ve spent countless hours daydreaming about a variety of horse-related scenarios. You’ve also probably thought about a good deal of nightmare dilemmas involving horses. Horses are constantly on ever…

Eventing Connect Classifieds are here – Post your ad FREE for 60 days | Eventing Connect   Eventing Connect Classifieds are here – Post your ad FREE for 60 days Eventing Connect is pleased to offer a Classified section to provide you with another platform to sell your horses, tack, services, property or whatever you may have for sale. Hundreds of thousands of readers visit us each month and we w…