Monday, November 30, 2009

Changing Horses

Do you look forward to riding your horse? Do you feel safe and in control with him? Can you handle him by yourself? Are you both relaxed when you’re together? Does he respect your space? Are you happier after riding him than before? If you answered yes to all these questions, congratulations! If you answered no once or twice, ratchet up your activity level a bit and things will get better. If you answered no to all of these questions, well … Houston, we have a problem.

Most people in this situation end up doing little or nothing with their horses. If this is you, please understand this: it doesn’t mean you’re a failure or your horse is a bad horse. Could it be fixed? Probably, but it would take a lot of time and work on your part. I want you to have fun with your horse now, not months or years from now!

The solution is changing horses. Changing horses doesn’t mean you have to get rid of the horse you can’t ride. Many people are too attached to their horses to even consider that. But it does mean getting a horse in your life that you can and will ride right now.

Often the best candidate is an older, been-there-done-that sort of horse with a calm personality and a willingness to please. (I'll have some ideas on finding this horse in another post.) This is the horse you should be riding every week. Get busy and watch the joy and confidence come flooding back. Watch your feel start to develop. Who knows, one day you may decide it’s time to take another crack at your original horse. He will probably see you in a whole new light, and I'll bet many of the problems you had before won’t be around anymore.

On this journey from human to horseman, action is your friend and inaction is your enemy. Sometimes that means making a change for the better.


ladywpaint said...

Changing horses is a good idea, I am 60 yos old and I have been riding my 12 yo Arabian mare. She is sprited to say the least. I found a part TWH for 100. that had some problems. She was almost blind in her left eye and had a cut on her right back leg, but she is gaited and calm. With treatment she has done very well. She doesn't spook, she stands still for mounting and dismounting. I usually have to ground work my Arabian at least 15 minutes to get her to stand still for mounting. Riding is a pleasure on this little horse.

ladywpaint said...

Oh I forgot to add, this little mare is a 2 yo, and green broke.

KD said...

Good advice! I'm fortunate to have a mare that I always look forward to riding, however it did take several years for our partnership to develop to where it is today.

Mark said...


This advice is especially true for children and teenagers! We ended up switching horses 3 times in a period of 3 years, before we found a horse that had the skills and abilities to match our young rider. Now that she has a been there, done that horse, her riding skills have increased and her confidence has soared. Another year and she will be ready for a new partner to challenge her riding talents.

susan said...

I always have great rides on my ponies but that is because they get exceptional training before I ride them. At 64, the money spent on training is very cheap insurance to prevent riding accidents. I also ride my young horses with my trainers and pick their brains as to any issues and what to do about them as we ride down the trail. Susan Neumann

tjus77 said...

As a friend of mine once said after I hit the ground after the third time in a week. It costs the same to own a bad horse as it does a good one. Best advice I ever had.

Jennmahorse said...

I have two Arabs.. Both young and green.. If I did not have my gelding to ride I probably would change horses with my mare. I love her but she is very sensitive and takes a lot of work to get her in a good space.. My gelding is a blast to ride and with him I can take my time with the mare..

The Natural Horseman said...

I just came across this, so I apologize for the late reply.

This is very true. I had a very hard to handle young, green draft cross-huge. I couldn't ride him and sought professional help. It took 2 YEARS of ground work to get back under saddle. I took the time it takes. However, I had a 22 yr old Thoroughbred that was a quiet and fun ride. I don't know, but I'm guessing if I did not have him, the 2 years would have been sheer torture. I'm glad it happened this way though. The connection my draft and I have together is amazing, we are truly partners. I still have to do groundwork with him before riding, that's what he needs, but at least we worked it out without any injuries.