Lately he's been railing against the upper levels of eventing and endurance, because horses are dying and this is bad. Go check out his feed. He compares the upper levels of these sports to the X Games, and denounces them for pushing horses to the very outer edges of their abilities, to the point that it's rare for a horse to be able to compete at the very top level for more than a year or two without becoming lame or demoralized, if not dying at or just after the competition altogether. A good event, he says, should not be one in which no horses or riders died.
I'm with him on this, and this is my main hesitation with getting into eventing. I'm happy to go Novice or Training or even Prelim, but I have no desire whatsoever to go Advanced. On the other hand, I'll do basically anything in show jumping. I'm not good enough to be at the upper levels of show jumping yet, but I want to get there.
I'm really writing this because today Denny's posts have been about what SprinklerBandit might call Happy Horse Ownership. He's on a roll about why people have the wrong horses and what they can or should do about it--or, more specifically, why they keep the wrong horses. Here, I'm just going to quote him directly and at length. All of these posts are from today, September 9.
We all know the saying, "delusions of grandeur" (Tang THINKS he`s a bobcat), but too often that attitude lands riders with horses they can`t quite ride.
Three scenarios, I think.
1. The rider improves enough to ride the horse, usually by riding quieter horses.
2. A better trainer rides the horse until it calms down enough to be ridden by the owner.
3. A combination of both---
Or, unhappy 4, the pair struggle away, sometimes for years, what we often see in "real life."
"WHY do so many riders have horses that are "too much horse?"
We all consumed and loved all the great horse books for kids, but, let`s face it, the message they sent us isn`t real.
A 12 year old who`d never ridden didn`t REALLY tame a 17 hand wild black stallion, with neither riding lessons nor helmet, I don`t think.
But it`s easy to feed into that 12 year old mentality, not just because of books and movies, but because there`s something wildly appealing to the essence of the myth.
It`s when we get older, can afford a horse, but still linger in Fantasy Land, that we make big mistakes, avoid the "Plain Jane" that we can ride and learn on, and instead get the fancy one who makes us white knuckled with apprehension every ride.
And once "there" the terrible "But I love him" kicks in, and we are trapped. And he is, too. We make each other miserable, and we can`t see a way out."
The "snowball effect", also known as the "downward spiral."And:
You picture yourself leaping off the Hickstead bank, but your reality is that you should be trotting crossrails.
You push ahead too soon, and your lack of skills makes the horse (a creature of flight) nervous.
The nervous horse does what nervous horses do, gets quick, maybe starts to rush or quit, jigs, those normal response behaviors.
HIS nervousness makes YOU more nervous. Or frustrated. Or angry. Or all of the above.
You get more tight, more rigid, perhaps more demanding.
He gets more nervous, and the snowball builds, the downward spiral spirals, and you are both in big trouble.
Deep in our dark little hearts we do know the way out of the "too much horse" trap, but it`s not easy to get free.
It`s to get one that we can ride or drive safely, and find a different home for the one we can`t.
I can hear the howls of protest all the way up here in Strafford, Vermont.
And finally, the last line of this is one I need to remember because it's hard for me to not be all worried about people who are clearly on the wrong horses:
One final thought regarding the "too much horse" dilemma.
We all know some riders who WILL NOT GIVE UP the inappropriate horse. Because of fear of where he will end up, or because of stubborn pride, or because they can`t see what we all see, or whatever other reason.
EITHER the rider or driver will continue with white knuckled fear each ride or drive--OR, the rider will eventually get hurt---OR, the horse will end up as a pasture ornament, and the rider will stop riding for as long as it takes for the horse to die of old age.
And, unless we are the parents or have another heavily vested interest in the well being of that person, IT IS NOT UP TO US TO DECIDE.
What are your thoughts here?