Some of us just know that we're well matched with our horses. It's perhaps just an innate feeling we have when we ride, but it's definitely there. How can you tell, though?
Well, for starters, you need to know what you're interested in doing with your horse, and that horse must be capable of accomplishing those tasks. If you wanted a nice Western horse but your mount prefers to move out in a more extended gait or at a faster pace than you think is necessary, there is a good chance you aren't going to be compatible.
Ensuring that your horse is a good match for you begins well before the purchase transaction. Any time I embark on a search for the perfect horse for a client, we will sit down and have a thorough discussion about wants, needs, likes, dislikes and goals. Without having an idea about what they are truly looking form I'd be searching blind. Also, often during those talks there will be an epiphany of sorts related to what the client thought they wanted and what would really suit them. It is truly disheartening bordering on devastating when you've already invested in a horse and then you find out the horse is all wrong for you.
You know that saying about different strokes being for different folks? In the horse world, it's true, too. Some people like 'stock' breed Halter horses, some prefer gaited horses for a nice easy ride on the trail, some folks want a Thoroughbred or a Warmblood because they seek to excel in the Dressage or Hunter/Jumper world, some love a flashy Arabian Saddleseat horse. What does this have to do with being a good match with your horse? Simple: It has everything to do with being happy with the horse you've chosen.
On a daily basis I see people who are not well suited to their own horses, yet they fail to realize it. My personal barometer of how perfectly matched a complimentary horse and rider are to each other encompasses several criteria. One, are they happy to see each other? Two, does the owner consider any task related to the horse a chore rather than a joy? Three, are both parties pleased and satisfied at the en of a ride, with a sense of accomplishment as opposed to frustration? Is the answer to any of these questions is no, Houston, there may me a problem.
Take into consideration how much time you have to devote to your horse and how you feel about that. If you can't wait to get home from a long day at the office, or a weekend home from university, just because it means you get to see and enjoy the love of your life (and I don't mean your significant other of the human persuasion) chances are the two of you are a match made in Heaven.
It's a fact – well matched horses and their riders are far happier than the alternative. Here's another saying that might be appropriate: You can't squeeze blood out of a turnip! If you just don't have that unbreakable bond with your horse, it may be time to think about finding a replacement (after you locate the ideal home for your present horse, of course). Somewhere, out there, will be the perfect match for him, too!