Lila Gendal: Finding a horse you click with

Just like any relationship, compatibility between horse and rider is key. Lila shares some matchmaking tips.

From Lila:

Having a horse that you really click with is crucial.  At the end of the day it’s about you and your horse, and the relationship you have with that horse. In my opinion, this counts for everything. If the relationship doesn’t exist, or you feel nothing at all toward your horse, you ought to consider finding another horse, or another sport to try.

I really click with my horse. Translation: My horse and I are on the same page. Our personalities complement one another. I absolutely love riding my horse and the bond we have is unshakable. Do you have this sort of relationship with your horse? Why, or why not? Do you get chills when you think back on the memories you have of competing, or showing, or just schooling? Or, do you sort of like your horse and sort of have a relationship with your horse?

Here are some criteria I personally look for when looking for a potential future horse. (Please keep in mind, these lists are subjective, as they apply to horses that might fit my needs and my personality.)

1)      Big personality. I think event horses have to be bold, interested, curious and confident. If a horse lacks these characteristics, then they might not be something I would be interested in. If I go look at a horse and they seem friendly, outgoing, and interested in me and what’s going on around them, this is a good sign. I want a horse that possesses a big personality, because event horses need to think running and jumping strange obstacles is a fun thing to do!

2)      Sane. If I go look at a horse and that horse is trying to bite, kick, run away, rear, buck or cannot stand still for more than two seconds, I am not interested. If a horse cannot show me that he or she has a “good” brain, meaning a horse that you can work with, and a horse you can train, then I am not interested. I don’t want to look at a frantically hot, or worried, or extremely nervous horse. I want a horse that is basically quiet and has a good brain. Without a good sane brain, what can you do?

3)      Athletic and sound. I would never look twice at a horse I thought couldn’t jump a big jump, or gallop. Athleticism is a must, and soundness is a must. A horse can have all the talent in the world, but at the end of the day, if your horse isn’t sound for whatever reasons, that horse is not for me. This may sound harsh, but it’s the truth.

Valonia schooling this spring

Valonia schooling this spring

Building a relationship with a horse obviously takes time. Clicking with your horse also takes time. You might click with your horse right from the get go, but building a lasting and trusting relationship does take time no matter what. So why not at least start with a horse that you think has the potential to meet your goals and your needs as a rider? If you are a timid, or a slightly insecure rider, why would you look at a hot thoroughbred who just came off the track? If you want a horse that can go prelim, why would you look at a horse that has trouble jumping anything over three feet? Being honest with yourself is key. Think about the kind of rider you are, and the type of horse you would like to be sitting on and then fill in the missing dots because finding a horse that you click with makes all the difference in the world!

My name is Lila Gendal and I am 27 years old. I am from Vermont and have been riding horses since I was 6 years old. I have been eventing since I was 10. I have been riding and training with Denny Emerson for the last 7 years. My goal is to compete at the upper levels someday. I currently have a 2005 Holsteiner mare, “Valonia” (Contester X Parlona), who is currently going training level, and I am riding one of Denny Emerson’s horses, a 2005 Selle Luxemburg gelding, “Beaulieu’s Cool Skybreaker” (Beaulieu’s Coolman X Une Beaute by Heartbreaker) who will be moving up to training soon! When I am not on a horse or in the barn I am likely working in my office on what I like to call Equine Media… or social media for equestrians and equestrian websites.

V aug jump school!


MORE PLEASE! If you liked this post, check out…


LOVE HORSE NATION? “Like” us on Facebook for all the latest news, commentary and ridiculousness!