Those of us with a competitive nature fuel our love for this sport with dreams and goals. Dreams and goals give us a reason to do what we do. To work hard, to drag ourselves out in the cold, to do things we might not want to do because that “thing” makes us better and brings us closer to our goals. We have short term and long term goals.
Often times we expect things from our horse to reach those goals. A better shoulder in, more self carriage, better balance, among other things. But, is that fair? We expect our horses to be the best they can be to bring us to the goals and dreams we have. These goals and dreams are not theirs. They are horses. They dream of eating green grass all day and laying in the sun. These goals and dreams are ours. Yet, our horses give us their all day in and day out. Trying to be the best they can be, for us.
So, to get back to my question…. is it fair to ask this of them? First, ask yourself this. Are you expecting the same from yourself? Are you doing everything you can to be the best you can be? That’s a pretty big undertaking. Do your goals and dreams line up with the amount of effort, time and (I hate to say it, but its true), financial resources you are investing? Or are you expecting more than what you are putting in?
Being your best means you are educating yourself in and out of the saddle. Do you go to lectures? Do you audit and ride in clinics? Are you watching videos of top riders? Are you taking lessons? If not, its unfair to ask your horse to be it’s best.
What about focus? You expect your horse to focus. Riders don’t allow their horses to look out the door or look at the flowers that are spooky, or just in general be unfocused. But what about you? Are you 100% focused on your ride? Or are you thinking about what you have to do at home when you are done? Or the assignment you need to pass in? If you aren’t focused, its unfair to expect your horse to be focused.
And, what about fitness? This may be one of the most important but overlooked areas in riders. Your horse needs to be fit to perform his job. Are you fit? Yes, riding is exercise. Its movement. But riding alone is NOT enough to make you fit enough to be your best. Fitness equates to strength, balance, endurance and coordination. Is it fair for your horse to carry an unfit rider? Rider fitness is becoming more of a priority and ALL of the top riders cross train with daily sessions at the gym or home workout routines from trainers and coaches.
How will you get the best out of your horse if you are not your best? This is a partnership. You are teammates. Are you expectations fair? And Balanced? But most importantly, does the effort, time consistently and financial contribution you put in, in line with your your goals? Something to think about…..
If not, just adjust your goals appropriately! Be fair, to you and your horse.