Join the Club

Anyone who has taught has probably heard their students say something to this effect,

“Doing [fill in the blank] is just so difficult. I just can’t figure out how to make it happen. My horse really struggles with [x, y, or z]. I wish my horse was like [fill in the name of your own horse who I've spent hours upon hours agonizing, sweating and bleeding on top of]”.

And all I can think is do you think you’re the only one that’s had this problem? Do you think you’re the only one that struggles with getting your horse to do whatever it is you’re struggling with?

The answer is no. This is not meant to be harsh. It is just true. Welcome to the club.

Every one of my students has struggles. What they do not seem to understand is that I also struggle. And everyone of my horses has struggles.

Their horse is hard on one side. One of my upper level horses is hard on the right side; the other is hard on the left side.

Their horse is behind the leg. So is my baby horse and, come to think of it, my also one of my upper level horses.

Their horse is afraid of all the things. A horse I’ve run through the CI2 level with only 20 XC jump penalties on her record, spooks so hard from fallen logs, puddles, rocks, squirrels, her own shadow, you name it that I find it difficult some days to stick with her.

The list can go on and on, but I want to stop before I’m beating a dead horse, so to speak.

The reality is, that everyone struggles with the same horsey things. The perfect horses so often aren’t really perfect, and if they really are perfect, then they probably didn’t start that way.

I ride this fantastic mare Calysta MWF aka Heidi, owned and bred by Meredith Michelfelder. She has run around a crap ton of preliminaries and a number of intermediates including three tough CIC2s. She is big and bold and strong. I have been riding her for 3 years. And after all that time, things are coming together. Her canter has three clear beats and it’s adjustable. She’s getting supple and elastic in the trot. She’s jumping carefully and thoughtfully. She comes out more or less the same horse every day. This was not the case when she arrived at Redbud Farm. She had the raw talent, but she was green. The consistent rides, pushing her off the left side and then the right, the grid work, the half halts, the gallop sets and even the hacks around the cow field have worked. Three years. Three years of sometimes feeling like I’m not making progress. Sometimes feeling like I’m going backwards. Three years of chipping away at the problems.

Horses are made in months and years. Not minutes and hours. Sometimes you’re making progress and sometimes you’re going backwards.

So, if it makes you feel better, know that you are not alone. Everyone that rides struggles with the same things. Your horse is not bad. You are not bad. You’re horse probably doesn’t even have the worst left drift, right drift, hardest spook, slowest walk, and it probably isn’t the only horse that doesn’t like going away from the other horses. Just keep chipping away at it.