Help! My Dream Horse is Becoming Ordinary
“Anybody can buy a world champion, but without the tools and knowledge to maintain him, he can become just an ordinary horse.”
I’m afraid that is what is happening in my situation. I have a horse that was Top 5 at the Congress and Top 10 at the World Show in the Jr WP. I bred him, raised him and started him, and then sent him off to someone who did a fabulous job with him. He is an extremely talented horse with all the ability in the world, and he is my dream horse.
Unfortunately, I could not afford to keep him in training and brought him home early last year. I’ve had little to moderate success in the Am WP (not placing at all at big shows), and I feel like I am spinning my wheels and people are saying “Man, she has really messed up that horse.”
While I don’t feel I have done anything irreversible to him, I can’t seem to get the hock split and the shoulder and back lift that my trainer was able to. I work full time, don’t have an indoor, and have very limited time to ride.
So, my question to you is… If I only have very limited time to ride (usually at shows and some during the week), what are the types of exercises I should focus on and can do that will help me to get my horse back into his winning frame? I’ve has several people and judges tell me I needed to bump him forward a bit as he can start bobbing (I always feel like I am flying when I know that is not the case), so I think I need to not have him sucked so far back.
Any input and ideas are much appreciated.
A. Hi Nancy!
Thanks for your response. Unfortunately your situation is an example of “job security” for most trainers. Horse trainers have spent years of long hours in the saddle to hone their craft and they pratice that craft every day to maintain what they have learned. While you may be an experienced rider, it’s not the same as a trainer having your horse in a program every day. Unfortunately there are no “quick fixes” or exercises that I can give you to do, but my best advice would be to have another set of eyes on the ground…somebody to tell you when it’s correct and when it’s not. The more you can recognize a feel and immediately know if it’s correct or incorrect and adjust to fix it, the more disciplined your horse will be. They need to come out and learn to hit the ground correctly 100% of the time until that’s all they know. If they start to go correctly 85% of the time, pretty soon that will change to 75%, then 50% and so on, describing the inconsistencies you are experiencing. It’s like a child with sporadic discipline. While it sounds like you haven’t done any serious damage as you said, and you’re not creating any bad behavior probelms with your horse, you also aren’t making him move to his full potential all the time, and as horses are creatures of habit, he has fallen into a habit of inconsistency. The only fix for a pattern of inconsistency is a program or routine that calls for 100% consistency. If you’re unable to be at a trainers, get a knowledgable set of eyes to tell you when its’ right and when it’s not. The more you can have a set of eyes on the ground the better, it will help you eliminate more incorrect or lesser quality movement by nipping it in the bud. Many people know what the idealistic movement is, but your seat can lie to you, and your eyes won’t. Have somebody watch and tell you immediately when your horse starts to slough off, or not move to the best of his ability. Eventually this will improve your feel and timing and help not only this horse, but any horse you ride.
Thanks again and best of luck!
Troy Green is a firm believer in the importance of a good foundation for every horse with balance, rhythm, and self-carriage being key. A good foundation equals longevity in the show pen. Troy has won over two dozen All American Quarter Horse Congress Championships in western pleasure, versatility, reining, halter and western riding, and has coached clients to over 50 Congress championships. Troy has three AQHA World Championships and two National Championships under his belt, and has won at all major futurities. He spent three years on the national board of the NSBA.
Troy Green has an extensive background working with youth and amateurs at all levels and of various disciplines. He specializes in pleasure futurity and all around horses.
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