Thursday, November 21, 2013

Nice horses don't always just come that way.

This is a rant, mixed with a message. Just venting my feelings here.

So many people compliment my horse. They admire his calm demeanor under saddle and his gentlemanly manners.

And I say "thank you". (This is the reason I bought him, because I saw these things, too.)

But I have this feeling that what others perceive is taken for granted. As if I just bought a horse that is like this and I don't actually do anything to make this horse this way.

I bought him because he has the potential to be a very nice horse. But that doesn't mean he'd be a nice horse for just ANYBODY. (As those of you who have read his back story would know.)

I work very hard in my training of Joey to ensure that he always is successful in his desire to please, even if he doesn't get it right. When I first got him, he couldn't stay at the canter without breaking stride. He had a hard time picking up the correct lead and was very unbalanced at the trot. Forget about asking for a flying change. He also was extremely uncomfortable with any use of a crop or dressage whip. And he loves to jump over things.

In short, he was a green, saddle broke horse with a good start who wanted to be a good boy but also went through a rough patch. That's it.

Two years later and in no rush on my part, Joey is balanced on a circle at the trot and canter. He will keep his canter for as many laps around the ring as I want (but it requires a strong seat and leg to ask him to do so as he is a pretty laid back kind of guy). We are getting very good at flying changes, especially from his right lead to his left but it's still a work in progress. He'll simple change with one trot step in between from his left to his right - I need to ask a little more directly now since he's got the idea, just gets a little lazy with the back end. He will back easily, leg yield, turn on the haunches or forehand in either direction and he's good about picking up the correct lead every time he's asked. He also is still brave to any jump and will always do his best to get you to the other side, sometimes he's not pretty about it but he's actually quite effective and never gets strong before or after the jump.

I didn't pick him out because he could do all this. I helped him learn all this. I didn't just figure out a horse that already had the knowledge from someone else. I helped him learn what I already knew, and in the process he has taught me how to ask him to do these things.

This is horse training.

I don't always see a lot of horse training. I see a lot of people buying a well broke horse through someone else's work and adopting it as their own skill. If you know less than the horse, the horse is training you not the other way around.

I guess my horse looks like a horse anyone could ride. I'd certainly like it if he was a good boy and secure enough in his training at this point that another rider, even with less skill than me, could safely ride him.
But I don't ever want anyone to underestimate him or scare him ever again.

I guess my point is, never assume based on what you see.