Have I got the right horse? Are we a good match?
Do you question whether or not you have the right horse? Have you got a challenging horse? Does he or she do things that make you want to cry and make you feel like you know nothing? Does he ever scare you? Do you feel shame? Did you perhaps rush into getting this horse, or did you get her without doing your homework? Feeling over faced by your horse is no fun.
Is this you?
If you are currently feeling like this, you need to make a tough choice – get very honest with yourself. Get honest about what your horse’s problems are, what your capabilities are and what you may need to look at in yourself to address your horse’s problems. Ask yourself: are these problems too big for me?
- Do you have the time and financial resources to bring yourself up to a level where you feel comfortable handling and riding your horse..? and even if you do have these resources, is this a journey you want to take? This journey will need a lot of patience and can take months or even years… it will take dedication!
- Another thing to consider is that some personalities just don’t go well together. Even if you are managing skill-wise with your horse, there are times when personalities can clash and it’s just not a good fit.
- Lastly, I often come across people who are only seeing what is wrong with the horse and what needs to be fixed. They are blind to the good which is there. Looking in from an outsider’s perspective, and having the experience I’ll see that the horse is perfect for them and they are just going through some bumps in the road. This horse coming into their life is a huge blessing, and how it will be a soul-enriching learning experience.
The silver lining – your greatest teacher
Let’s say you have made the decision to keep your horse and take this journey with him – even though it’s going to be a much longer and tougher road than you initially signed up for. By stretching yourself this way you are setting yourself up to learn a whole lot and increase your horsemanship skills enormously. This is a wonderful gift.
- Perhaps your horse doesn’t do well with rough handling or harsh tones, he teaches you the art of being more subtle
- Perhaps your horse is here to teach you to be more confident or self-assured. Maybe you need to learn to be gentler and more patient. Look at the lessons your horse is here to teach you.
- Maybe your horse is very sensitive and picks up on the smallest queues, he’s watching your every move and he feels your mood. These complex and intuitive horses, although more challenging to work with, teach you to be more in tune with yourself and become more aware of your thoughts and emotions. They will teach you all about emotional awareness and control
- In the end, horses teach us to think outside the box. They are masters at teaching us lateral-thinking and how to be creative with solutions. And without exception, in my life, these lessons are truly a blessing!
Remember something else about those ‘difficult horses’: if you learn how to work with them, they can end up being the most rewarding horses you’ll ever own.
How do I know this?
Having done this for many years, and having mentored and trained many owners and horses, I know this to be true from my own experience.
I remember when I used to think that I needed a new horse or that there was a better horse or a different horse or that my horse needed to change somehow. What I eventually realized was that I was the one that needed to change and I would never have the knowledge and skills that I have now if it weren’t for those more challenging horses.
Asking for help
Challenging horses are such a huge blessing – even if it doesn’t look like it at the time. One of my first and biggest mistakes was not getting help from someone who had more knowledge and experience than me. Right from the first, I should have asked for more help when I was struggling.
Knowing when to ask for help is a strength and not a weakness, and that’s another thing that horses taught me!
If there is no-one around that can assist you physically with training, then get busy researching! There is tons of information on the internet: courses, YouTube videos, books, etc. Bit by bit you can read, watch and practice. This way is harder and if you have no experience, will take longer, so be patient with yourself…and especially with your horse. Don’t forget – getting to know what your horse’s needs are will give you a massive advantage!
Lastly, I’m not saying that you never need to give up on the horse. Sometimes it’s just NOT a good match and it’s just a bad idea to keep hanging on! There are going to be cases where even with a good trainer, he’s just too much for you or it’s a bad fit. Consider chatting to your trainer and when you have spent the time weighing up pros and cons, consider getting a more suitable horse if you feel there are no other alternatives. These situations are luckily far less common than not, and the times I’ve actually had to advise this are few and far between. Lastly don’t feel ashamed or guilty – your horse will probably be better off in the right home too. Just make sure you do your best to find him that RIGHT home.
A Case in point…Anna and Prince
Anna has a decent amount of experience, and Prince is not her first horse, but she did get stuck. In a tough moment, she asked me why she got landed with Prince – (who happens to be very smart and has no problem calling Anna out on her smallest mistakes and finding her weak spots!)
After accessing the situation, I told Anna that he’s here to take her skills to the next level…She had just got a little stuck.
We did a session together and things are moving along nicely with the two of them
In this case, Anna and Prince are a good match – He stretches her skills to where she can learn and improve but without feeling overwhelmed or over faced by her horse.