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”.
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.
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?