Getting the horse that fits your personality!
Owning your own horse is an exciting and fulfilling experience – often involving a huge learning curve that takes you on a journey where you learn as much about yourself as your horse.
Maybe you’ve always had a vision in your head of that dream horse you’d own one day. ‘Praps she’s a chestnut mare with a long flowing mane and tail, or a long-legged grey, or a black beauty like the one in the story . . . .
Owning your own horse often comes as the culmination of a long-held dream. When I have time, money, energy . . . .
But sometimes that excitement can turn to frustration and disappointment if you don’t take care matching rider to horse. You may be looking for your dream horse, but this isn’t a fairy tale, and you need to keep your head focused on what’s sensible and practical.
The relationship between horse and rider can be rich and enjoyable, but there are riders who become afraid to handle their horses in some situations or they may only be comfortable to go riding in some places, perhaps in an enclosed space, or only at a walk or a trot.
Putting limitations on what you can or can’t, will or won’t do with your horse, makes the journey and destination potentially less enjoyable and fulfilling. So getting the horse that fits your dream and what you want to do is crucial to your enjoyment when you are riding a horse.
Before you even think about buying a horse, make sure you have had riding lessons over a sustained period of time, and that you have ridden different sorts of horses to get a feel for what sort of horse you will be looking to buy.
Risky Rides – too much horse
Of course, we love riding horses, but we need to recognize that they are potentially dangerous and risky creatures.
If we don’t feel safe with our horses in some situations, then how can we expect the horse to feel safe? You know that feeling when you ride out, and something unexpected happens – maybe something simple like a child riding a bike on the pavement, and the horse spooks, so we spook, and the horse thinks, “well if she’s scared, ‘praps it’s really scary!” and spooks some more. . . . .
A scared and nervous rider makes for a spooky horse, and that spells danger for both. And riding a nervous horse is no fun, at least not until you have learned a lot more about horse riding.
It’s easy to know when a horse is too spooky for you to cope with. But what about horses too laid back and slow to be comfortable with the demands we place on them? Sometimes a calm horse isn’t what we’re looking for at all – we want a bit of getting up and go. But this may not be what you need for your first horse.
Like people, horses have different energy levels and different temperaments. While some riders are happy on a slow hack every day and wouldn’t even consider jumping a fence, others want to ride hard and fast and want to jump to compete. The same is true for horses, and a fast horse matched to a slow rider or vice versa is a recipe for disaster and even danger.
In some ways, horses are like children, and they ‘test’ their riders to see how far they can go, and see who’s boss, horse or rider. A rider with a strong, dominant personality might overwhelm a submissive horse, and quickly become frustrated. A horse born to be a leader, on the other hand, will soon overwhelm a submissive rider. Like the body language we can recognize in people, there is a horse body language. Some horses are pushy and will barge into you, or bite, or make excitable movements, while others are slow, gentle, or just hard to get to move at all! All these things are important to look for when you are looking for your dream horse.
In the end, there is no such thing as a ‘dream horse’. My dream horse might be your nightmare and vice versa. Just make sure you weigh up all the pros and cons and do your research when finding your dream horse.
Moving on up
The difficulty sometimes is not so much recognizing the misfit between horse and rider, but being able to let go and move on. Of course, we all love our horses and have formed an emotional attachment to them, but sometimes we are just not good for each other. Sometimes the kindest and the best thing we can do for ourselves and our horses is to part company and move on.
Buying a horse can be an expensive mistake if you don’t take your time and do your research carefully. Be very clear in your own mind what sort of horse would suit you best, and what sorts of riding you will want to be doing. Don’t be in a rush, and don’t buy something just because it looks like the horse of your dreams. Horses are as much about personality as looks, and this is one of the most important things to consider when you are looking for your horse.