If you can’t say something nice, here’s a tip…
There are countless do’s and don’ts in the horse world. Some are spoken about and some are best left unspoken, and unsolicited commentary about other people’s horses falls solidly into the latter category. Without further ado, I bring to you the top five things you just don’t say about other people’s horses…
“Your horse is crazy.”
Speaking from personal experience having owned not one but TWO slightly crazy horses, I know what’s like to have a horse that’s missing a couple screws. People who know me would know which horses I am referring to. Even though I knew, or eventually discovered that my horses were in fact challenged and sort of off their rocker, I never in a million years wanted anyone to agree with me. Having someone tell you to your face that your favorite horse is insane is simply not something you want to hear. So unless you’re looking for trouble or want to intentionally anger someone, it’s best to refrain from making this statement.
“Your horse is ugly.”
Obviously not all horses are created equally in the beauty pageant category. Some people are going to disagree with me here, but lucky for me I don’t mind playing devil’s advocate! Let’s be perfectly honest: Some horses are drop-dead gorgeous and some are pretty homely looking. Obviously there are ugly horses that are successful, and similarly, there are stunning horses who give truth to the adage “pretty is as pretty does.” Regardless, the last thing in the world you want to tell someone is that their pride and joy, their little precious baby, is ugly. Words of advice… DON’T GO THERE!
“Your horse is a bad jumper.”
Speaking from an event rider’s point of view, where jumping means the world, you can imagine how you would feel if you had just purchased your dream horse, or brought your favorite horse over for your first jump lesson with someone, only to be told your horse is a deplorable jumper. Not all of us need, or could even handle, a horse with Grand Prix jumping potential, and every horse’s form can be improved with correct training. If you’re a trainer evaluating whether or not a horse is suitable for a student’s goals, tactful honesty is the best policy — but bite your tongue before telling some random person that their horse can’t actually jump!
“Why would you breed that?”
I can also relate to this one, as I recall thinking eons ago that I might actually breed my crazy mare so I could have two crazy horses. Seems reasonable right? Someone actually told me to my face, “Why would you breed a horse that is crazy?” I was livid and couldn’t believe she said that about MY horse. Yes, she was correct in her statement, but she didn’t have to pour salt on the wound by speaking her mind. Unless someone asks for your opinion, steer clear of this brazen statement no matter how much validity it may hold.
“Your horse just basically sucks.”
Ah, last but not least and one of my personal favorites. We’ve all been there, am I right? You go to watch a clinic, or you witness a lesson, or see a horse at a show that really seems to be struggling. You don’t know that horse’s back story. Maybe what looks like a struggle to you is actually a big improvement. Or maybe it’s not, and they’re just having a really bad day. Obviously there’s less than perfect riding out there and the blame cannot and should not be placed solely on the horse. That being said, there are some horses that are not cut out for the job at task, whether it be dressage, jumpers, you name it… it’s just not their cup of tea. Probably best to not point out these types of horses to people you just met!
Any other comments you would add to the list?
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.