Earlier this week I read a post by a disgruntled parent talking about how the trainer told her daughter who was already riding a nice big Thoroughbred, that if she wanted to suceed in Eventing, she would need to buy a different horse, and that she would never make it in Eventing because they would never give her a chance because of her race.
Now, do I agree with the trainer with the trainer’s approach and what the trainer said? Absolutely not. Do I deny the fact that there is prejudice in the show world? Again, absolutely not — But that’s not what this is about. On a side note, there’s always prejudices in the show ring — just try riding an Arab in Dressage, or bring a gaited horse to a cattle sorting and you’ll quickly see what I mean.
I have two very important – and potentially brutal – questions –
When I was growing up, most folks didn’t go out and buy a made horse. Most kids got whatever their parents could afford and they had to figure out. Did they get hurt? You bet, but you know what? They learned from it and ultimately became better horsemen because of it.
I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard the phrase, “If you want to win, you have to ride X.” Go look up the champion eventer Elisa Wallace and see what she’s riding. Go look up the history on Scamper that Charmayne James rode at the NFR, or Kristie Peterson and Bozo. Everyone knows the story of Seabiscuit, and the legendary slaughter sale horse Snowman. Those are just a few of the stories in the wonderful world of horses….so why are we telling kids, or adults that matter if they want to succeed they have to have a different horse?
And something else…. what exactly does it mean to succeed with horses? What exactly is winning? Are we riding to win or are we riding for something else? If we focus on what that trainer said, getting upset, and making a big deal of it then we’re focusing on winning. Is that really what we want to be teaching kids, or even adults that are learning about horses?
My thinking is that becoming a better horseman should be the focus and the goal, not the winning. If you become a better horseman, the winning will come as a result of that. When you focus on riding better and improving your horse, you automatically perform better under pressure. Titles are great, but they start to mean something when you’ve had to go through a lot of pain to get there.
One thing I love about horses and the horse industry is that horse don’t now how much they cost, and I love how the industry is rich with “rags to riches” tales of horses and people doing things other said they would never be able to do. I hope we pass that on to the next generation of riders.
So what is your focus as a parent or as a rider? What is the goal and what is the purpose and how do you get there?