The article above isn't about the horse. It's about the rider. And it asks and answers an excellent question: Is it better to be a low-talent, hard-working type-A rider or a high-talent slacker? Which is more likely to achieve success in the upper levels of competition (or even the lower levels of backyard fake competition)? Only you know where you fit on the continuum, so I'm not going to guess.
As I read the article, of course my thoughts went to my own riding and to my horses. I'm by no stretch any kind of competitor anymore, and I never went beyond local competition. I did, however, amass 64 ribbons and a bunch of plaques and trophies, so my medium-talent was goosed by my work ethic and the luck of having at least a few horses with the same level of desire. And here's the thing that messes up my world. I have two horses that are "go-ers". Like my Trans Am GTA with the Corvette engine, there's no need to step on the gas on those two. Just taking my foot off the brake is sufficient for launch.
|A Go-er if ever there was one,|
Dolly needs no incentive. She could
probably use new brakes.
So what happens when a Type-A, medium-talent (ahem) like myself is faced with workaholic horses and slackers in the same game? Frustration comes to mind. And I find that depending on my mood, I'm far more likely to pick one of the go-ers for a ride on any given day. The pushers I reserve for days when I've got a Whole New Plan for their workouts and can't wait to give it a try.
Does it affect my own talent vs. work ethic balance? Heck yeah! Nothing makes me feel less talented than sitting on a horse that's standing stock-still, looking back at me over his shoulder instead of enthusiastically attacking the project I've invented to keep him engaged. And if I let my work ethic get the better of me, the number of curse words I can growl out is stunning.
My question, then, is what is a high-work-ethic type to do about a situation where the horse simply isn't on the same page?
The answer: Change your expectations.
Note, I didn't say "lower"; I said "change".
|On the other end of the scale, it took|
months to convince Dakota that there
are gaits other than the lumber-about.
Fortunately, that's Cliff's favorite gait.
Of course the obvious option is to find a horse that meets your needs. But that's too simple. Every horse has its own personality, and none of them is as perfect as you'd like them to be. Neither are you. Get over it.
There are no winners or losers in a partnership. The relationship between horse and rider is a specialized one that needs to be reassessed regularly. If your horse isn't happy in his job, then give him a new job. You're the one with thumbs and the keys to the kingdom. Do what needs to be done to create harmony instead of putting your goals in the forefront. Leave your ego at the barn door, or go find a sport that doesn't involve interacting with another living being. Bowling comes to mind. Whatever. Just be realistic and judge your work-in-progress with an open mind and a caring attitude. You'll be happier in the end.