My horse of a lifetime did not win me money in the big jumper classes or win national titles. Our journey started out with a ruined horse for a price I couldn’t refuse, that I knew I could “save,” and the idea that selling for a profit would be easy. I was right on the first part; she had a fantastically scrambled brain for a price I didn’t refuse. However, she ended up saving me. The profit I made wasn’t monetary.
She insisted I earn not only her trust, but also her respect. You don’t achieve that by lording over your subjects, you do that by being a fair leader. A fair leader knows that small victories can be enough, that being a partner is far more important than having the last word, and that good communication is a two way street. She taught me that it was important to “do as I say AND as I do”. She showed me that if you have the patience to muddle through the baggage of someone’s past, it will pay off ten fold. There is no shortcut to good training.
She showed me that horses are the most forgiving and resilient creatures. When you take the time to help them sort through their troubled past, they will go to the ends of the earth for you. They’ll jump into the ocean for a frolic and photo op, they’ll brave the indoor circuit with silly braids, they’ll carry you around their first cross country school, they’ll let you dress them up for every Christmas family photo, and they will be your shoulder to cry on when times are tough.
My horse of a lifetime did not take me to a 5* or win a class at WIHS. My horse of a lifetime gave me patience, empathy, resilience, determination, bravery, and grit. She made me a better rider, a better student, a better trainer, and a better person. She is the core of who I am as a horseman and is at the heart of my business.
Horses don’t care about Facebook posts and whether or not we remember them forever. They care about kind and fair treatment, that they’re fed and feel safe. So while my horse of a lifetime doesn’t love snuggles, she’ll get kind treatment as well as respect, and a safe place to lay her opinionated head for the rest of her days.
Happy 12th Anniversary, My Irish Dream.