How Bad Do You Want It?

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Perhaps because it is Winter and the season encourages deep thought and reflection I’ve been spending a lot of time mulling around in my head contemplating this thing called horsemanship.

At a recent clinic I attended, there was a young girl on a Mustang and the horse was quite a challenge. He was argumentative and didn’t take direction well and in fact, bucked the girl off during the course of the day. At that point one of the instructors took the horse over and spent a good deal of the rest of the day trying to help the horse and the girl overcome some of their obstacles. It was extremely educational.

One of the things he said to the girl was that she was lucky to have found this horse at such a young age. He told her the horse would teach her a lot and make her better for all other horses. He also said “this horse will make you know how much you want it”.

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That comment has really stuck with me. He was, of course, referring to…horsemanship. How bad do you want it? I watched that trainer ride that horse around the arena until the horse was working up a sweat, getting tight, relaxing, getting tight, offering to buck, the horse flipped back and forth so quickly it was hard to identify the precise moment it happened.

It occurred to me personally, that I wasn’t sure I would want it that bad.

That realization caused me to redefine myself as to who I was with horses. Prior to that moment I had thought of myself as pretty committed to this hobby but suddenly I knew in my heart that if that little Mustang had been mine, I would never go the distance to learn what he had to teach me. I believe with all my heart that the more challenging the horse, the more we learn, but, I also know that I don’t have the skills, time, resources or desire to achieve those particular lessons.

I’ve seen trainers work with difficult horses before. And honestly I love to watch this dance. Observing what the trainer does to unlock and help the horse puzzle things out to a better way to be with humans. It is educational and inspirational and fascinating, I had just never really connected those actions to a personal/real level. I never pictured one of those problem horses being mine. For some reason at that clinic, perhaps because the problem horse was running amongst us, I did.

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My horses are not perfect. We’ve had our fair share of arguments, puzzles to work out, behaviors to overcome and boundaries to define. But I’ve never thought of them as dangerous. I never felt I was taking undue risk (beyond normal horse exposure) working with them. I wouldn’t throw the towel in on one because he or she required some more time, money, training etc..etc.. BUT…if one of them was bucking me off on a regular basis, acting aggressively towards me, a danger to have around or in general just keeping the riding experience from being fun I have to ask myself, how far would I go to make it work with that particular horse?

I guess you never really know until you are in that situation. There as so many questions that come into play with a decision like that; how attached are you, how bad/dangerous is the horse, how good are your skills, what resources do you have available to help you?

I hope this young girl sticks with this horse. In the right hands I think he could be pretty great. However, if he were mine, I am not sure I would have the “staying” power he is going to require to get there.

I don’t believe that all horses can be appropriate for all people, but I do think there is a horse out there for each person.

I’m curious readers…how bad do you want it? How far would you or have you gone for a horse? Any success stories? Any mismatches?

5 thoughts on “How Bad Do You Want It?

  1. I am always fascinated how life lessons with my horses such as this one can be applied to just life in general. Makes me take stock of other areas of my life on how bad do I want to be good at something or to really excel at something and what I am willing to invest to make it happen. Or am I just willing to take things as they are and be mediocre.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh boy, I’ve wanted it really bad. My early days with my boy, Oskar, were rough. I’m not sure exactly why-at the time- I wanted it so bad. But I get it now- now that I’m on the other side :). I’ve watched my daughter want it really bad too. Not to this point (you describe) of danger, mind you. But she had to work. Many times I questioned allowing that. I know now, we are both better for it. But, honestly, do I want it again? At my age? I think I’m good for right now!


  3. Don’t know why this showed up in my wordpress feed somewhat randomly today but I don’t remember seeing it last year and loved reading it!

    I want it pretty bad. But for me… I see it a little differently- I really can’t afford to get hurt. Since one can’t guarantee that, one thing I try to do is minimize risk with a new green horse by taking the process super slow and doing a ton on the ground until our relationship is secure enough that I feel it’s likely when I’m up there at least the horse doesn’t want to toss me. Hopefully the horse has learned to like me and see me as a leader before the danger is so great that I’m a regular lawn dart.

    I really believe that horses who throw people off have a pretty negative opinion of people or at least that person (or are in pain). They are now screaming and need some serious remedial help to get comfortable and change their opinion.

    So yes, I want it bad enough to take a TON of time to get there so we all stay as safe as possible.

    What a good question!


  4. Great read and really hit home! But I do think that people need to recognize wanting to excel at horsemanship and getting a horse that is “too much horse” for them at their point in their journey of horsemanship. I don’t believe that riders should push themselves too far and end up getting hurt. I have seen riders that were paired with a horse who just wasn’t right for them at that point in their riding and it is unfortunate to watch both horse and rider struggle. If the rider is able to get good help (from a trainer like in the article) then I think that is definitely the way to go about it or get a safer horse for the time being until their confidence and skill level is appropriate.


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