Thursday, July 25, 2013

What do you like most about horses?

I was reading Mona’s blog Panic and the Pony and she was talking about her struggle to find out where she wants to go and what she wants to do with her riding – ie, sell the horse, keep the horse, move barns, stay, have lessons, don’t have lessons…   All the sorts of questions I ask myself on a semi-regular basis!

Then she wrote in her post that her husband asked her this question “What is it that you love most about horses?”

I realized that this is a question I’m not sure I know the answer too.  Like most equestrians, the list of things I like about horses and riding is probably long and varied, but I do want to answer this question specifically.  I think it will help me know where I am going from here.

What is the most important thing about horses to me?  I love hanging out with them, I love getting out in the fresh air and exploring, I love hanging out with horsey people, I love learning more about horses, I LOVE teaching others about horses because I love horses so much I want everyone else to love them too!

But those things are not the most important thing about horses to me… 

I do know that over my years of riding, I have gravitated towards training horses, and then I have moved into dressage as an extension of flatwork training. I know I love puzzling out the best training methods and figuring out new ways to help individual horses understand what I am asking them to do.

I also love a good challenge and the thrill of getting through it!

I think, however, that at the root of all of that – the best experiences I have ever had around horses or on horse back is when we have understood each other.

Like that time my Appaloosa mare Nikkieta and I did a perfect round of jumps.  We just hanging out in the jump paddock – I plotted a course and we did every one perfectly!  She felt like she had rocket boosters for legs!  It was amazing….  Or my last ride on her before her owner gave her away and she just did everything as I thought about it.

Or when Irish Moss and I jumped 80cm bareback – no training, no warm up with little jumps.  We just did it.  Or when we won the paddock D grade jumping competition – we were in our own little world, locked on the jumps and sailing over them!

I can’t forget that dressage test on Buttercup, one of the school horses at the riding school I taught at.  She and I didn’t know each other very well, but when we did that Novice 2A test and scored 62.8% (my first Novice test ever!).  I just remember everything flowing.  She was focused, I was focused, and it felt like we were just skimming through each movement. 

And that time when Joey and I finally clicked.  We weren’t doing anything special, just riding around.  But he finally stopped and listened to me for the first time and I just rode around with tears in my eyes and the dopiest grin on my face.  

It doesn’t matter what discipline; whether it’s ground work or riding.  When I make a connection with my horse, that is everything to me.  When we reach that point of perfect understanding. 

And I think that’s why I love training and dressage so much.  It’s about working together – partnership.  That is the most important thing about horses to me. 

So.  Moving forwards – what does that mean for me? 

I’m not really sure to be honest.  The Hubsband would like me to take a break from owning a horse and go with once-a-week lessons and perhaps riding someone else’s horse if I can find one. 

I’m really not keen on that idea.  I feel like I can’t work on a special partnership if I don’t have a partner!  Yes, I can work on my riding skills, but it’s so much more than that to me, and I’m not convinced that half an hour of riding a week is going to cut it. 

Still, my elbow has to heal yet, and I haven’t sold Joey or Copper either, so time will tell whether I buy another one after the boys sell or whether I will be *gasp* horseless for the first time in over 10 years! 

Even though I might be horseless, I’ll never be without horses.

See ya,



  1. It's such a hard decision! I think if you have the ability to go horseless for a short time it could be a blessing. Maybe use that time to try some different things out of your comfort range? If I could go back to a time before I had my pony, I would try out a bunch of different things/living scenarios/riding disciplines/breeds/ages before jumping in with a new horse. Of course, that's also what I said when I was horse shopping and we all know how that worked out. :)

  2. I hope you heal quickly and completely. I think that you could consider a lease if you don't own then its almost like owning without the long term responsibility.

  3. Thanks for the comments Mona and L. - I will definitely be keeping that all in mind when my elbow finally heals! :)


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