Today we look at the final four of 7 reasons why your horse may not be right for you.
4. Wrong Temperament
Your temperament and that of your horse have to match. If you are both nervous types, the relationship is unlikely to work. One of you has to keep the other calm.
I once owned a very anxious Thoroughbred mare. My instructor told me that one of us had to calm down first, and it wasn’t going to be her!
If you find yourself ‘winding up’ your horse, and constantly worrying about what he’s going to do next, you may want to consider finding a calmer rider for him and a quieter horse for you.
5. He Is Too Young
It’s very tempting to buy a young horse in the happy expectation that you and he will grow old together.
Unless you’re experienced in dealing with youngsters, that romantic dream can swiftly become a nightmare. Even if he is quiet when you buy him, this will not necessarily last if you’re unable to continue with the correct training required to keep him well-mannered.
If you’ve purchased a youngster and realize he’s too much for you, don’t wait until the horse becomes unmanageable. Find an experienced home for him, where he’ll receive the training he needs to fulfill his potential.
Then look for an older, more experienced animal for yourself. You’ll have many more years of fun with the right horse than with the wrong one.
6. He Can’t/Won’t Perform in Your Preferred Discipline
Sometimes we find ourselves with a horse that is either unable to, or doesn’t want to, participate in our chosen riding discipline.
Here are some ways this can happen:
(a) We’ve switched disciplines: for example, moving from show jumping to dressage, and our horse doesn’t enjoy pure flatwork.
(b) The horse’s abilities were misrepresented to us when we bought him.
(c) He simply isn’t interested in his job any more (he’s sour).
If this last is the problem, it may just be a matter of changing his work routine to revive his enthusiasm. I trail rode a sour show jumper for six months solid, and he willingly started jumping again. My current dressage horse co-operates if I take him on trail rides and occasionally jump him to vary his routine.
But if the horse makes it clear that he is not suited to whatever you wish to do with him, it’s time to find him a home compatible to his strengths.
7. He Has Constant Health Issues
We horse people seem determined to continue with an animal which never stays sound for very long, has permanent respiratory problems or suffers from some other health issue which prevents him from being ridden consistently.
While this is an admirable trait, there comes a time when we need to admit that such a horse will never be rideable. Neither is he happy, struggling to be the horse we want. Especially when he has to stand for months on end in his stall – for the sixth time - with an injury that will never heal sufficiently to withstand the rigors of being ridden.
I speak from experience, and know how hard it is to accept the finality of this. But the time, money and effort put into such a futile task are much better spent on a healthy horse.
If he has an otherwise good quality of life, your unrideable equine buddy should be allowed to live peacefully as a companion animal.
Our horses can be totally wrong for us, and yet we tend to love them like children. Since it’s morally reprehensible to sell one’s offspring, we feel the same way about our equine buddies!
But be prepared to consider that maybe your horse would be better off in a different, more compatible home. As long as you’ve done your best to find him good parents, there’s no need to feel guilty about selling him.
If you think your horse may not be the right one, visit me next Friday, when I’ll be exploring ways to find your perfect horse.
Horses are my big obsession, and I'm constantly striving to get better, smarter and more in harmony with my equine buddy, Cruz Bay.
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