Friday, April 26, 2013

"My Horse Is Not Fancy Enough"

"Ride what 'cha got!"  is one of my favorite phrases, for several reasons.  When it comes to IEA and IHSA it's  wonderful advice for riders, reminding them that they should NOT try to make an unfamiliar horse perform in a way that is beyond the scope of it's training or natural ability.  For a seasoned show veteran, it can be a reminder that today, due to the horses mind or condition, they  may want to ask for a bit less.  My favorite use of the term, however, is a bit more "old school".  It's a philosophy that believes one can take an average, or even a below average horse, work with it, school it and ( sit down for this) SHOW IT! Now I did not say win a World Championship with it. Finding the balance between dreaming big and losing touch with reality would be a whole other post.  No, this is just the suggestion that the mid range horses can be very successful. 
 There are two mindsets that riders must battle to make this work.  One is the "you should not be out there if you are not ready to win" attitude.  In my experience this is the number one reason people with aspirations to show either never show at all or only go to a few and then find some reason why they can't continue.  The fact is, unless you have a full time trainer and an exceptional horse, you won't be ready to win until you lose...a lot! Even with the trainer and exceptional horse you very well may lose.  We have all heard that is wet saddle blankets that make broke horses, well it's sweat and sore muscles that make good riders.  It's also true true that you may be a great trail rider and need lots more practice if you are going to show, or a great hunt seat rider but you will get beat for a long time in the horsemanship and vise-versa.  You get the idea. You DO need to be sure that you  are not going to disrupt the class or cause issues with other more competitive riders. (If that happens, apologize,  absorb their wrath, learn from it, but then go on with your show life, I assure you they made mistakes too)  Most of those showing in classes that are not rail classes (more on that later) have been in the same place so they either understand or have memory problems.
The second mindset can only get in your way if you buy into it. It's the thought process that Little Susie should not show in the open show, 4-H show or whatever because her horse is so nice and you can't afford a horse that nice.  Many of the kids that I heard this said about paid much less than you may think for their horses.  They do spend as much as they can on lessons, clinics, lessons, training, lessons and they show and show and show.  So yes, they have put a lot of money into that horse, but they have put in more work then money.  They lay their ego aside and listen to people who have experience.  They take risks and they fail and fail and fail.  They go to show that they are not ready for, so that they can learn how to get ready. Finally, they get off the rail.  The less than stellar horse is probably not going to be a star in Western Pleasure or Hunter Under Saddle.  They are probably not going to make an Upper Level Dressage horse or win the Working Hunter at an A show.   They can teach you the basics of  your discipline, maybe win the open shows, schooling shows and 4-H shows.    You will learn from them and they can learn to be a better horse from you.  The may be able to take you on to the next level. If so you may find yourself moving from the blues to lower placings or no placings at all.  You will be learning, improving and earning your place in the show world if you just "Ride  what 'cha got!"

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