It’s Not Always The Horse’s Fault

I have had the luxury of being able to show horses and attend horse shows most of my life. I’ve loved it and I’ve not loved it. I’ve seen good and I’ve seen bad. I’ve handled situations in ways I’m really proud of, and in ways I wish I’d done things differently. I’ve seen the whole range of emotions from riders at show, myself included….happy, sad, disappointed, angry, frustrated, you name it I’ve seen it. Thankfully, I’ve seen much more great stuff than bad stuff, but the bad stuff is what tends to stick with me. Once when I was young I saw a girl place in the top 5 on her horse (worth well over $50,000) and she was so angry that when she walked out of the class she just got off and walked away. She left her horse standing there loose while she threw a fit. Her mom and trainer had to run up and grab the perfectly calm, sweet, gelding and then “console” her. This made a huge impression on me because her horse was like a dream horse in my eyes. I couldn’t see how anyone could do that…I still can’t. I’ve seen a lot of other instances like this, but I won’t bore you with those details. This weekend I attended a horse show at the Desert International Horse Park. This is where the top hunter jumper horses and riders in the nation compete every year. It’s prestigious, full of nice horses, and at this show a fifty thousand dollar horse would be considered more of a prospect. The caliber of horses is top-notch.

My daughter and I were walking by one of the practice rings and I heard a crash. I turned to see a jump had fallen down and right in front of it a gorgeous black hunter mare with her rider sitting on her neck. I also noticed that the horse was holding up its left hind leg for a bit then finally put it down but kept it rested. The trainer and groom that rushed over to the woman rescue didn’t seem to notice the horse’s leg in the air or resting so I stayed to make sure the horse trotted off sound. I didn’t blame them for not noticing, they were in the middle of talking to the client who was obviously shaken. She could have been like that girl I mentioned above and thrown a tantrum, I’ve seen plenty of adults do it too, but she talked calmly with her trainer while she regained her composure and her confidence. There was another thing different about this situation, I noticed the groom was stroking the mare’s face, talking sweetly to her, and there was kindness. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but I could tell by their body language that nobody was blaming the horse for what had just happened. When the woman finally trotted off, the horse was sound, but what caught me by surprise is what she said to her horse. She said “I’m sorry, do you forgive me?” Those words almost made me cry.

In all my years showing I’ve never heard anyone apologize to their horse in a more perfect way and I was so thankful that my 7-year-old daughter got to hear her say that too. This will be a good memory that sticks with me and with her as well. It will be something we always remember, and something I hope to emulate. With riding we all make mistakes, and it’s so important to remember that it’s not always the horse’s fault. So from now on I will be saying I’m sorry to my horse. I guess I could have titled this article “I’m sorry, do you forgive me?” Either way please SHARE this on Facebook if you love horses!

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