Friday, September 30, 2011

Words Matter--"Only a Trail Horse"

The horse/human relationship can never reach its full potential as long as people say with a hint of shame, "I do not compete my horse. He is only a trail horse."

Such a horse is so much luckier than one whose owner boasts, "I do not ride on trails. He is a competition horse."

What a warped perspective. Would such a man say of his family,"She is not some stranger that I picked up at a bar. She is only my wife."?


Priscilla said...

The answer: Cross Training.

Steve Edwards said...

Cross training is great for a horse's mind, but in the larger perspective it is competition, of any sort with other horse owners that is, and always has been, bad for the horse. Competition leads to horses being valued by the number of ribbons that they have won instead of for their intrinsic value as horses. There is nothing wrong with dressage, barrel racing, or jumping as long as one does not compete.

I once heard of a lady who was very experienced in the competitive horse world who suggested that a family sell their horses instead of moving them to Alaska because they were not "worth" the expense of hauling. Her definition of a horse's worth was tied to its "success" in competition.

You will never have a horse worth more than Rusty or Cricket. Nor will you have one worth less than them. Your new horse will no doubt be a super star that will live as happy a life as a horse can encounter. In a world of competition you would no doubt be advised that a trainer with your talent deserves an even better horse than he is so you can "win at a higher level."

You have the sense of self and strength of character to resist such advice, but you are very rare in that regard. Any horse that you have has already won at a higher level. It has won because it has achieved a level of trust and contentment that is nearly unheard of.

The competitive horse world would consign Leah to the slaughter house. That is not a horse world that you or I belong in.

If you want a model of how it should be do not picture a trophy case or a barn full of ribbons. Picture Emily, carefully mixing her various ingredients for a feed that she believes will put weight on Leah. Consider the love that she has for her one eyed "worthless" mustang, (who is also one of the most impressive horses that I have ever encountered)and recognize that for what it is, a blue ribbon relationship.

The competitive horse world can do nothing to improve that relationship. I also doubt that the competitive horse world can do anything to improve the kid who is the best young writer, horse trainer, and serious thinker that I have encountered.