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,


Thursday, July 18, 2013

No big surprise.


And we’re back to this again.  I’m going to sell Joey.  For real this time. 

Previously when I have talked about making this move, my reasons have revolved around doubts of my ability to train him and work out our issues.  This time however, my reason for selling is a little more than that – I now have no doubts that, in time, I could train him.  Sure, I might need advice from professionals every once in a while – I might even have to pay for that advice (sending him to a trainer or something) – but I could do it.

The million dollar question is: how long is that going to take?

I guess it’s really hit home to me that Joey is a lot further away from being the horse I want than what I originally thought he was.  He’s been semi-reliable in the arena, but any thing more than that; and I do mean anything – add another horse for example – and I just don’t know what I am going to get from him.

I just don’t have time to work all of that out with him.  And frankly, at this point in my life, I don’t want to either.  I do really enjoy the challenges of training horses, and it’s been a fantastic learning experience training my first young horse.

But when I get to ride one, two – maybe three times a week if I’m lucky, you can bet your shorts that I want every ride to be a good one (within reason of course!).  I don’t want to have to wonder what I’m going to get, I just want to get on. and. ride.  

No drama, no fuss, no hassle.

And that’s definitely not Joey’s descriptor at the moment!  So our journey together comes to an end, and I’m looking forwards to my elbow healing so that I can move onto the next chapter. 

See ya,


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