By Nicole Ponte
It’s a common belief that a horse that is difficult will help you grow to be an impressive and esteemed rider. However, there is a fine line between “difficult” and “too much to handle.” If the line is crossed, you run the chance of crushing your own self-esteem, getting injured and (as shallow as it may sound to some) wasting time wherein you could be showing successfully. (You’re only a junior for so long…)
Here are some warning signs that your horse may be a bit much for you:
You’re always on edge: Nerves are normal when riding a 1,000-pound animal. However if you find that you are on edge during every second of every ride, that’s a problem. Or if you’re too nervous that if you relax something bad will happen, it can take away the fun of riding and leave you emotionally exhausted.
You’ve hit a plateau: After a long period of time spent just “going through the motions,” you can be left feeling tired and craving some type of progress. Nobody makes progress constantly, but to be stuck in one spot without the ability to move forward can leave you frustrated and disheartened.
Riding seems like a chore: With difficult horses you have to keep your focus on an effective schooling routine. This can put a damper on your love for riding if you are someone who likes to go on carefree rides. If you feel like you’re obligated to keep schooling your horse but would rather be somewhere else, your horse may be too much for you.
Dangerous horse: Falling off is inevitable while riding, but when it happens time and time again you have to stop and question the suitability of your partnership. If your horse displays adverse behavioral traits or under saddle tendencies that cause you harm, especially repetitively, you may not want to continue and risk further consequences. (Like having to take a long period of time off for recovery)
You struggle to keep control: Though there are often spooks and slip-ups where your horse gets strong and strung out, in general, you should always have control of your horse and what you are doing. If you find that your horse drags you around the arena and bolts frequently, you may have a bit too much horse on your hands.
These are just general guidelines. Often time you can improve your relationship with a difficult horse by taking lessons with an experienced trainer or by putting your horse in temporary training. It is up to you as a rider to evaluate whether you think your issues are just a passing phase or if they are more serious afflictions that will last the duration of your ownership.