I have had some interesting encounters with clients and their horses over the years. It never ceases to amaze me the expectations that some people have of their horses, especially when it comes to green horses or untouched colts. It takes a lot of time, consistency, and love to make a really well rounded horse that is safe to be around, let alone to ride. It is more than just getting the horse ridden to me, it’s about what I’m creating for the future, and creating a trusting, well balanced horse takes time. Not time according to me or you either, but time according to the horse and where it is in its training.
When I started my horse it took 90 days till he was completely fine with a tarp under his nose and would walk over it without any signs of distress or hesitation. 90 days. Have you ever done something consistently for 90 days? And not just for yourself either, but for someone else?
I think of that 90 days a lot, especially when I was turning colts back over to their owners in 24 days, 5 of which were dedicated to groundwork only. You are never really able to get down to the bottom of some of those key components of foundational horsemanship in 24 days. What amazes me most about those colts is each and every one of them succeeded with their owners. Goes to show you how amazing horses are!
There was a guy for whom I started a few colts, and he had a mare that took two weeks just to halter. Then he had a stud colt who took fifteen minutes to saddle up and put the first ride on without any prior work. The mare was super touchy, and I would have loved to have worked with her for as long as it took for her to make the breakthrough on her terms and to learn to accept and befriend the human. I still may purchase her in the near future!
Once a horse has been started or a problem horse is on the mend, it takes time, accurate consistency, and lots of love. You can’t expect the world out of the horse without giving the world to them first. You can take the best started horse ever and have them wanting to knock your block off within days depending on how you work with them. When that happens, it comes down to no one other than the person dealing with the horse. Be prepared to be realistic in the sense of accountability too because these go hand in hand.
The moral is: give your horse the time they deserve to progress on their terms, not according to your expectations. Don’t blame your downfalls on anyone other than yourself. The horse’s greatest ally is truth. You can’t expect to put one ride on a colt and for him to be dude string broke. If you don’t continue moving forward with him, you are only going to go backwards. You can’t expect one interaction with a horse to carry over for the rest of his life. You have to take the face value of what you have every day and go from there. Otherwise, you’re going to ask for too much and get yourself hurt, lose your horse mentally, get your horse on the fight, or even worse. Once you have gone to the dark side you lose a piece of your pony. If that’s what you are going for, go get an exotic car and abuse that, for at least doesn’t have a brain or soul of its own.