By: Dr. Mike Guerini (www.dunmovinranch.com)
We live in a very consumer driven society. Buy what you need, use it until it no longer suits your purpose, and then dispose of the item. People do this with cars, clothes, cell phones (get your newest iPhone today since your old one most likely is not “good enough”), and any number of other items.
Sadly…and most painfully I all to often see this with horses. There is the horse that was not good enough for dressage, not good enough for cowhorse, not good enough for a rope horse, and not good enough for a trail horse. Maybe the horse was the wrong color…maybe it was to tall, not athletic enough, maybe it just did not respond to the owner in the best possible way. You have heard the stories…and I hope if you are reading my blog you have never disposed of a horse just because it was not perfect.
Two ladies that I met this past year have stories well worth sharing. Both ladies have really nice horses. One has a bit of an issue relating to soundness and the lady wrote me a great message when she shared this issue with me. She said “My horse has some lameness issue and it has me concerned. He may not make it as that Western Dressage Horse that I had planned on having but my goal is to help him get back to being sound enough that we can go down the trail together.” WOW — here is a lady that really gets it — the relationship with the horse is more important than a goal she set for competition or in her mind….she took the time to adjust and work with the horse. I actually think she just might make it back to the Western Dressage Arena since she has the right attitude and the horse she owns has some magic inside of him — how do I know — his eyes show it to all you look.
The second lady has an Off The Track Thoroughbred. Her Dressage coach met the horse once and termed him “fractious” and told her that she would have to get another horse since this one was no good. Well this second lady has taken her time and made a success of this horse. She has walk, trot, jog, canter, passage, side passing, backing, haunch turns, rollbacks, turns on the forehand…and any number of other accomplishments. A few weeks back I met up with her and we had a session and I asked her to work on making her circles more of a consistent size. She stopped and said to me — “You are right and I will work on it but can I tell you I am just so happy to have achieved such a level of connection with my horse that we are working at the walk, trot, jog, canter, and all those other moves. For two years I kept hearing that this horse was worthless….but I am so proud of him now…I am so glad I did not give up.”
In both of these examples these ladies could have easily given up and found another horse..it is so easy to do this in our consumer driven society…and perfectly acceptable in many barns across the country.
“The Horse No Longer Needed” is better referred to as “The Horse that No Longer Makes ME Shine”.
Horses require effort and time and patience. Horses need to be heard. If you stop and listen the horse might just be able to help you realize his or her full potential. Sure — the horse may not be what you dreamed he/she would be, maybe he/she will not win each time in the event of your choice — but maybe if you take a risk and follow the horse — the journey will be more rewarding.
There are so many ways to evaluate what a horse can do…take the time to evaluate, then build the foundation for success and take the journey with your four-legged partner — you might be glad you did. Many years ago I read a work by Robert Frost “The Road Not Taken” and the last lines do remind me of the journey with each horse — it is unique and the journey is the reward.
Although I am not as skilled as Robert Frost — my life is full of horses and I share with you a Poem that I wrote to celebrate those of you who take the time to get to know the potential of your horse.
My New Owner
I was born in the very early light of day,
To a home with horses and asses that bray,
But little did I know I would not stay.
One day I was traded for some feed,
To a man who did not have much speed,
Yet I walked away with him on my lead.
After a few months with him,
I started to get a bit slim,
And then I hurt my hind limb.
The veterinarian said I was likely no good,
He would do for me what he could,
All of a sudden I felt lost where I stood.
Next day a girl came to my field,
She watched me with her eyes peeled,
Then proclaimed that she could get me healed.
The man who got me back when,
Had some papers and a ball point pen,
The girl signed with the word Madeleine.
Down the road we walked,
All along this girl talked,
Til we reached a barn she unlocked.
Day after day I was tended,
Rubbed with things that were blended,
With the goal of being mended.
At last my leg was improved,
The veterinarian even approved,
He smiled and said he was disproved.
Today I am very glad,
With this New Owner that I have,
Cause I know things will never be bad.
Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at http://www.dunmovinranch.com. Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (www.hydrot.com).