We have all seen the videos in which a rider falls while show-jumping, and the horse continues to jump the fences. Most of the comments will have a very positive outlook on such an event. Most people will agree it’s because the horse loves jumping and has been trained well. The more ignorant comments will suggest that the horse is attempting to finish the competition without the rider. Actually, a well-trained confident horse would stop jumping once the rider has fallen.
#5 Do not overlook the veteran horse
Do not be deterred from buying a horse that is over 12, 15, 18 or even 20 years old. If the animal is fit there is no reason why such an age should matter, or even be relevant. A 20 year old horse will hunt, show-jump, hack or even compete in dressage for example. Horse care has come on in leaps and bounds in the last couple of decades. They are afforded better dental, farrier and vet care, as well as improved feed and supplements, both of which can contain essential herbs and minerals to maintain good health. Most yards insist on fastidious worming programs, and flu and tetanus jabs. Manufacturers of equine consumables strive (and compete) to improve the quality of bedding in term of reducing dust and maximising absorption. Frankly put, there has never been a better time to be a horse, and 20 could be seen as the new 10!
#1 Don’t be swayed by pretty names and good looks
My first horse was a 14.2 hh strawberry roan mare called Princess. 8 year old girls in particular will immediately want to own a pony that is strawberry roan, and called Princess. The child’s parents may also assume such a beautiful pony with an angelic, virtuous name would be appropriate for a little girl. As it turns out pretty ponies with pretty names are not as virtuous as 8 year old children think. Over a period of 2 years I had to endure bucks, rears and bolts and all the associated injuries and terrifying experiences that occurred during such events.
Well I had an inkling that this subject may be controversial. There are many devices on the equestrian market that have been in use for so long that people become almost blind to whether such devices should be used. Certain objects become such a familiar sight on yards, or on horses, that they become accepted without question or thought. Spurs, bits, whips, draw reins, and grazing muzzles (to name just a few) seem to fall into the category of what is considered conventional. My main beef with this is that when certain devices are readily available and a familiar sight, no extra thought, research or effort is made to find another option, method or technique to remedy a situation or ailment. Of course this isn’t true of everyone, but novices in particular may unwittingly trust such devices simply because they are commonplace.
Others may also never question something they have been doing, simply because for so many years they assumed it was the correct thing to do. Many of us go through life doing things a certain way, and only question it when someone asks why? I am without doubt guilty of this myself in that I have never ridden bitless. It was never questioned as a child, and I never asked why I was inserting a lump of metal into my horses mouth. Yet riding without a bit is common in the USA, and unfortunately rare in my part of the world. However, in my case I can still learn and appreciate that sometimes there are better ways of doing things, and not always just accepting things, simply because they are normal.
Video – Straight From The Horses Mouth 😉
Hard hats must be worn when riding, Poo must be picked up immediately, No smoking on the premises, Dogs must be kept on leads, Children under 12 years of age must have adult supervision! While there may be a few more I won’t bore you with the rest. These are the do’s and don’ts we see written on the large sign as we enter the stable yard. But it doesn’t stop there, we read that sign and think yep, got it only to be further bombarded with the offspring of the big daddy sign.
No one naturally wakes up feeling motivated . People may wake up feeling an urgency or an excitement for what the day may hold. But motivation is not an instinct, it doesn’t spontaneously materialise if you eat well, drink plenty of water and sleep a solid 7 hours a night. In fact there are people (or have been) that survive eating junk food, embracing alcoholism and hard drugs and still wake feeling motivated. Just a simple Google search will throw up (literally) Vincent Van Gogh, Stephen King, Alexander the Great, Leonard Nimoy, and Betty Ford. Motivation has nothing to do with healthy living, practicing yoga or eating organic food. Living in a luxurious home, wearing designer clothes, driving an expensive car, dining out often, going on exotic holidays…just have the novelty factor, one which is temporary, and probably wholly unfulfilling especially in terms of daily self-motivation.
The only way to get motivated is to generate it.
The main argument surrounding this subject always seems to be centred around protecting the back of the horse. My main argument to you, dear reader, is if you do not know how to mount correctly then using a block will not protect the back of your horse either. If a rider is completing a mount in a fluid motion and in the correct manner, the back of the horse will not be compromised whether the rider is mounting from the ground or a block.
Open the gate, open the gate!!!!
No-one stopped in their tracks, conversations were not interrupted, tea drinking did not cease mid sip either. By now everyone was accustomed to Screaming Sue and her daily routine of turning out her horse. Sue’s somewhat unconventional method of taking Bargy Boris (BB) to pasture always started in the stable, albeit with less volume, but still clearly audible.
During those moments it was clear Sue’s nickname was entirely inappropriate considering what we could ascertain from Sue’s rather guttural grunts and groans. During the rugging process which took around 35 minutes, a more apt name would have been Squashed Sue. Offers of help had ceased long ago because apparently Sue could handle BB’s rambunctious personality, and no-one but her would cope. The main event however always started when the stable door was opened. This was always BB’s cue to announce his existence to the world. The door would fly open so hard it would hit the outside of the stable wall and shake the entire block. Buckets, grooming kits and various yard equipment would either be scattered or shattered.
I am just going to come out and say it. Spurs should only be used if you are a very, VERY good rider. If a rider does not have the skills, knowledge or patience to re-educate a horse with desensitised sides, which is why the majority of bad riders are using them, then spurs are the last thing they need. It is not my intention to become part of the no bits, no spurs, no anything brigade. Spurs may have their place in the equestrian world, and are traditionally used all over the planet, in my view, to refine the leg aid. An extremely well trained horse may for whatever reason ignore the leg, and I use the word ‘ignore’ loosely. There could be many reasons why the horse has not responded in that particular instance. So strapped to the leg of an expert, one that is aware of their own movements and know exactly what they are asking of the horse, then yes spurs have their place. But then compare that to someone that has been riding 3 years and are strapping spurs on because they are about to do a pre-novice dressage test, or jump 60 cm at the local show.
I had a moment of confuzzlement recently. Reading equine body language does not come from watching several horse videos or from owning horses for many years. It comes from watching domestic and wild horses in person, online, studying images and experiencing a million moments on yards and often, observing how humans respond to horses, and vice versa. It takes all those things, and over a lifetime.