When someone asks this question, it’s never an easy one to answer.

“How do I know if this is the right horse for me? I feel frustrated. I’m not sure if it’s him or if it’s me. I’m losing confidence. I’m not having fun. I just might quit.

It’s not an easy answer because there are a lot of variables involved.

My first response is, “What do you think?”

And by that I mean, “What’s your gut feeling about your horse?”

Sometimes a horse is just not a good fit for the rider. It’s kind of like (I always laugh about this) all men would not want to be married to me! Ha!

Riding a horse is a partnership. If the partners are not compatible for reasons not clearly defined, the partnership might go south. Sometimes the rider loses confidence or feels guilty for having those feelings.

That doesn’t make the horse “bad.” Of course not. He’s just not the “right” horse for the partnership.

And that’s okay.

Other times a rider absolutely adores a horse, but the training level is not adequate for the intended purpose of the horse. Again, it’s no one’s fault. But so often riders think they are doing something “wrong” and lose confidence. It’s just not the right dance partner for the dance the rider wants to do.

In a different situation, other people may not believe that a horse is “right” but the rider loves the horse and wants to train his or her own horse. That’s perfectly fine, too. However the rider needs to make sure he or she sets up needed mentoring and feedback. Without intensely needed guidance, things go downhill and again the rider loses confidence … unnecessarily. Things however were not set up for success.

I have two main suggestions regarding your horse.

The first … make sure you are safe. Don’t force things when in your heart you know you are at risk and on the edge of safety.

Secondly, set yourself up for success. What are your goals? Where does your horse’s talent, past training and health fit into that equation? Who is going to mentor you either directly or indirectly?

Reflect on your situation and decide how you can set both you and your horse up for success.

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11 Comments on “IS MY HORSE RIGHT FOR ME?”

  1. Roberta Rollins on Thu, 16th Feb 2017 10:16 am
  2. What great advice!

  3. Mike sheridan on Thu, 16th Feb 2017 11:55 am
  4. Agua Dulce

    Good comments Barbara. I might add (if I may) that sometimes we also have to deal with our own personal pride. That means doing a realistic evaluation of how well we match the ability and energy of our horse in relation to our true ability. I wonder if sometimes our personal pride gets in the way of being honest enough to realistically evaluate the partnership we want vs. the (almost) partnership we have. Sometimes it might just come down to admitting that the current horse we have and love, is not the best match for what our needs and ability are at this time. Sometimes another horse better suited to who we really are now, works out better. Thanks for listening, Mike Sheridan

  5. Diane on Thu, 16th Feb 2017 4:04 pm
  6. This is a very pertinent topic–thanks for bringing it up. An additional problem is the notion of a “forever home,” which makes some people feel reluctant to or guilty about selling a horse. The analogy of a marriage is also valid here: sometimes a divorce is the best solution.

  7. Pat on Thu, 16th Feb 2017 7:53 pm
  8. Sometimes the fit is not 100% perfect however you can not bring yourself to rehome as you worry he/she won’t be treated the way you would want. The fear of placing him/her in another not so right home and then being pushed off again plays a big part of you holding on hoping the fit will improve as its not terrible but its just not 100% yet. Maybe time will tell – both the rider And horse will improve with age. Learn from each other.

  9. Michelle on Fri, 17th Feb 2017 9:34 am
  10. Thanks! Admit overall I’ve been lucky. Lots of great fits. Yet every time it was a bad fit it took me years to admit and move on. During the first year or so, the learning and growing was good, after that my learning would take a huge slow down. Learning happens best when both parties are in. Then when the right horse did come along it took me time to adjust back to happy fun learning and growing.

    Currently lucky with, three perfect fits and one needs to go, yes it took me years to admit that, LOL

    Yet I see many others that if I question the fit, the flare back is huge! Yet I am just trying to say been there, done that, and lost years. THANKS!

    ” My first response is, “What do you think?”
    And by that I mean, “What’s your gut feeling about your horse?” “

  11. Francine on Fri, 17th Feb 2017 10:26 am
  12. I have and have had quite a few horses. Horses are like people. They come to us for a reason, season or lifetime. It’s not always healthy to hang on to a toxic relationship. We need to reprogram and realize that paying a horse forward might be the biggest gift you can give to yourself, the horse and the next person. Scamper went through many homes before he and Charmayne “clicked”. What if someone along the way felt guilty and turned him into a pasture ornament? We all deserve to reach our potential. This is where our own “true north” comes into play. If you are in fact honest with yourself, there shouldn’t be any guilt for moving on. Love the journey enough to know the reason, the season and the lifetime relationships. I’ve had to reach this epiphany myself. Each of my horses in my pasture now has a reason, season or a lifetime of value to me. Each brings me a gift and a challenge and something to learn. It’s exciting. I wish I could just go out right now and grab them one at a time and groom and mess with them. But alas, damn the bandages, drains and 6 weeks of no lifting. Can’t even brush my horse, vacuum or clip bulls that all need done. Woman makes plans, God laughs. Reminds me of a far side joke I posted on my timeline this week….lol.

  13. Betty on Tue, 21st Feb 2017 8:50 am
  14. This is such a good topic. The way we wind up with so many horses everyone you know has a cutting horse for you to buy when you are replacing one. You have got to have the right trainer helping you find the right horse that fits each individual level and personally.

  15. Tonya Holmes on Thu, 2nd Mar 2017 10:41 pm
  16. I am still wrapping my head around this one but, I am making progress. My first barrel horse was very athletic and was very difficult to ride. she would hurt me, my back and hands almost every run. despite taking me to the pay window often. finally deciding i would make her a brood mare and ride another. I started having a lot more fun and still won some. I am 60 I don’t need to recoup after each run. I even sold a horse last year that was sweet to ride but not fast enough. she has been a blessing to the new owners, they love her. It now is a Win Win. I have 3 young ones going now and it is still hard to tell which will be the best fit for me.

  17. Lesta Conger on Sat, 30th Dec 2017 4:20 pm
  18. It has taken me three years to come to the idea that my mare and I need to go our separate ways. It has been quite a journey and we have both learned a lot. I came to the realization that she took all my good energy and there were other horses out there. And that it wasn’t all my fault that we didn’t click!

  19. Barbra Schulte on Sat, 30th Dec 2017 4:47 pm
  20. Lesta, I wish for you renewed positive energy in the new year. Perhaps you will find a horse who is more suited to what you are seeking at this time and she will find a new home that is more suited to her needs at this time in her life. Blessings, Lesta … Barb

  21. Ken on Tue, 30th Mar 2021 9:53 am
  22. I’m struggling with that question now. I have a 12 year old Arabian gelding that I adore, but through the years I’ve been a now and then trail horse rider and this is my first owned horse. He rides different than the trail horse. Not bad, just more spunky. I’ve been offered a trade from my trainer for a younger, calmer Arabian but feel like I’m just giving up with mine if I do. We’ve only been together for 3 months of weekend riding and part of me feels I just need more time with him. My heart is heavy trying to decide.

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