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The Horse You Need vs. The Horse You Want

The Saga of the Horse You Need vs the Horse You Want….. every horse person’s story…..

Every horse person I know has a problem distinguishing the horse they NEED from the horse they WANT.  Not everyone stays confused about their horse needs vs wants but I am pretty sure most, if not all, horse person has struggled with this to a certain extent.

I think of myself as a pretty reasonable person.  Normally my wants and needs are not too terribly far apart. There are only two areas in which I could use some work in distinguishing my wants from my needs.  Art supplies are one such area.  I have just about every kind of art supply you could imagine just in case the inspiration hits and I must create.  I have everything on hand to create a multitude of  things from mosaics (with a collection of broken china, tile, tea cups and colored glass) to every kind of paint and drawing instrument known to man.  When I say I work in multiple mediums I truly do.  So in regards to art supplies the judgement mechanism of wants vs needs is a bit off but I have strategies in place now.   I have banned myself from Pat Catan’s until further notice!  When I get the urge to create I go to my studio and fiddle with what I have already instead of shopping.  My scrapbooking friend who keeps trying to recruit me to be a scrapper is now on notice that she is not allowed to entice me into any more modes of artistic expression!  I knew when I went with her to a scrapbooking store closeout and spent almost $100.00 when I don’t even scrapbook that this is an area where I must be disciplined.  Scrapbooking, in my book, is a deep dark money pit.  Those gadgets and pretty paper call to me but I recognize I do not NEED those things to create.

So let’s take that same process and apply it to horses.  I know its hard to find horses that are trained or capable of performing in all the different ways in which horses are ridden and driven.  This problem creates a dilemma for the horse person.  Just as you can not find one horse in all your favorite coat colors or breeds you must decide on what is most important.  You narrow down your list to the characteristics you most desire in a horse.   You must learn to prioritize and compromise on your wants.  I make mental lists.  This is what I am looking for in my next horse….. blah blah blah.   I need this, this and that.  Simple.  So you begin your search.  Its so fun searching ads for horses, isn’t it?  You know all the right places to go and all the right ways to ‘read between’ the lines to really know what the seller is saying.  Searching is half the fun.  Search and imagining what the horse will be like in your barn.  Ahhh, yes.  The fantasy of horse shopping and the reality of what you buy can be very different.  Horses play an active part in this too because how they act and ride from one person to another can vary greatly because horses are MUCH better at sizing us up than we are at sizing them up as suitable riding partners for us.

I have been on both ends of the buying fence– buying a horse that the previous owner ‘trash’ talked and went so far as to cuss at the horse in front of us while we were there to try her out.  She turned out to be the very BEST horse.  How her owner missed her very endearing qualities is beyond me.  I have also had horses that I bought because they were beautiful but not suited for me or my situation.  Like the horse that was scared of her own shadow with me and would spooked at a leaf or freak out over mud or God forbid, a puddle, but rode beautifully for someone else.  Yeah, it kind of hurt my ego but ya know horses do that!

Horses and people change over time too.  Kids become better riders and need a more challenging mount.  Horses get spoiled from poor handling and become pushy and need manners  instill in them so not to get someone hurt.  Or probably one of the most frustrating situations is when a horse is in pain, but being a horse, becomes stoic about the pain but develops other behaviors- like bucking or being cinchy.  People and horses get older and need more steady mounts or less challenging activities.   Its hard to have the clear vision to see what you need in a horse – especially when you are attached to the one you have that may not be one well suited to you.

I know this blog post would be so much better if I could just wrap this all up in a few neat bullet point suggestions for you but it is never, ever that simple with horses.  I guess I do have a couple bullet list points.

  1. safety should always come first

  2. when a previously well-mannered horse begins acting out, look for pain, feed or turn-out issues which may explain the behavior

  3. Don’t be too proud to ask for qualified help- find a good horse trainer, it will be worth it to pay them instead of hospital bills or a horse you can’t ride

  4. let your horse be a horse by feeding them as their digestive systems functions and allow them time to be a part of a herd- nothing is sadder than seeing a shut down horse that is kept stalled and ‘bubble-wrapped’ because that is what the owner wants

A side note to the shut down horse comment:  I vividly remember during my boarding barn owner days several years ago, one of my boarders had a western pleasure horse that had every conceivable gadget and wardrobe accessory but was never allowed to even just MOVE as a horse would naturally move.  He was either stalled, on solitary turn out in his fancy blankets and colorful sleazy coverings (per owner’s insistence) or being ridden in what looked like to every other non WP horse person as sheer torture in a WP jog or that crazy lame looking 4 beat canter (hear WP is getting better– oh I hope so!!).  That horse was beyond tolerant.  He tolerated it better than I did and I only had to look and see the horse every day!  In reality though he probably had shut down a long time ago because what choice did he have?   He was a quiet QH and had known no other life.  The owners love him– I am sure of that.  Just their wants took priority over the horse’s needs.  I think we are all guilty of that to some extent, unfortunately.  

If you liked this blog and agree I will thank you now for sharing with your friends.  🙂  If you disagree leave a comment… I am always interested in hearing other perspectives.  

Enough ranting.  Thanks for following and happy trails to you!  

Original artwork on this blog is copyrighted and mine but available for purchase at –Free Rein Art Studio  Thank you!   Sue Steiner

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