Expectations and Horses Don’t Mix

Catherine Ford explains why.


Catherine and Star the day she was foaled, a few months after Catherine rescued her mother off a slaughter truck.

Expectation is a word that can ruin a lot between a horse and a person.

Don’t go confusing expectation and hope, either — the two are very different. Hope has a sort of positive with it that even when it goes wrong or just not as you would have liked, you can swallow back that lump of disappointment and move on. You might have lost a little sparkle but what’s underneath is unchanged.

When expectation doesn’t get met there’s blame, anger. It is suddenly rooted in fault.

Maybe the horse is something you’ve only ever seen as a shiny penny and when it gets some mud on its face you see it as a personal letdown. Why would my horse buck me off? When it might not have had anything to do with you in the first place. Maybe the horse just had a bad day.

And that’s when good horses get ruined. I’ve seen it at events. Everyone has. The horse getting wailed on after the fact, long after the mistake was made. Rider fault or horse fault… at that point it doesn’t seem to matter. There was expectation and when it wasn’t met there was blame and anger.

Expectation isn’t all bad; it has its place in the world. We should expect certain things like a horse that has a sound mind, a horse that respects people. Without some sort of expectations in our lives we’d likely all be doormats and have unfueled dreams.

The key is where to place your expectations and where to place your hopes.

Perhaps the best thing to do is try to be the person that sees it for what it is right when it is without the burden of what it has to give you in return. You do that, you manage to live that daily with a Thoroughbred, and they’ll give you the very air in their lungs. Go into just one interaction with a horse without expectation and see for yourself.


About Catherine: I rode 3-day when I was younger until a bad fall broke my back and I gave up riding for 15 years. As an adult I came back into horses with my five very young children (including a set of triplets) in tow and immediately fell in love with the Off Track Thoroughbred. Our small family farm is home to two OTTBs that I do hunter jumpers with and two ponies (a POA and a Welsh) that my children are learning to ride.

Read more of Catherine’s writing at horsesofsevenhearts.blogspot.com.



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