Friday, December 11, 2009

Are You And Your Horse A Good Match?

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!



  1. Another good commentary "hit out of the park," Stacy. I've seen too many people who want a horse because it is of a certain size or breed or, God forbid, COLOR (but it totally the wrong temperament or personality for the person in question). It's usually an accident waiting to happen--and even AFTER the injuries have healed, the person isn't willing to admit that the horse isn't a good match.

    Getting an expert's opinion is important (whether it's the trainer or the vet), but it is VITAL that people listen to and act upon the advice the expert has given. Finding a match is just the first step ;o)

  2. Thanks!! :)

    Over the years I have seen far too many folks get suckered into buying the "wrong" horse because it was the "right color" or for some other silly reason. Most of the time it does end in disaster for horse, rider/owner or both, and generally they pay far more than the horse was actually worth because they fell in love with the horse.

    I really haven't gone into pre-purchase exams yet (future blog post!), though several times I have written about how important it is to make sure you bring someone knowledgeable with you when you look at a horse to potentially buy. But, there are still some who won't listen to recommendations or advice...those shall remain nameless. ;)

  3. Good advice.. My friend gave me my Appaloosa mare two years ago. She is great if you haul her out, minus the few moments of spookiness. She is high strung and barn sour, stubborn and bitchy, and totally unwilling. We have done countless hours in the roundpen, worked on respect, worked on riding different saddles, bits, etc.. And then my friend got on her and RACED her. She loved it. You could tell she was having fun.. and I don't like to do that. I ride my friends Fox Trotters or my QH on the trail, and they are fabulous, but I don't like to run hard. Apparently, she does. So now I am going to give her to a teenager who wants to barrel race and get me an easy going horse that just likes to trail ride. It is heartbreaking having a horse that isn't right for you and finally having to come to terms with that, though, so I just recommend that nobody should rush into anything.. find that perfect horse.

  4. My friend gave me an Appaloosa a couple of years ago. I love her to death, but she wants to race, and I want to trail ride. So I am going to give her to a teenager who wants to do that with her, and find me a nice gaited trail horse who is easy going. It's heartbreaking, so for other people out there, find the perfect horse. Don't waste too much time on one that is stubborn.


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