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What We Learn From That ONE Difficult Horse

“After months, or even years, of frustration, crying and endless Google searches, this horse has provided you with more than a headache. This is the horse you can thank for making you a better horsewoman or horseman and teaching you to never give up.”

Throughout our time in the saddle, we all cross paths with that one horse that makes us question everything we’ve ever learned (if you haven’t crossed paths with this horse, either you’re really lucky or it’s coming). This horse sends us away frustrated and crying. She’s a bit quirky and a tad unsafe — or extremely dangerous.

Within minutes she can go from purposefully working to a fire breathing dragon that is DONE entertaining you for the day. This horse is the reason you lose interest in riding your well behaved horses, leading you to impulsive decisions such as putting all your tack up for sale on social media.

Photo by Alicia Johnston

Ride after ride on this horse you become more and more discouraged. There are weeks where you roll around on the ground more than you are in the saddle. She tries every maneuver to remove you from her back. A few of her tricks include bucking, rearing, running you into other objects and taking off with you.

But, despite wanting to quit, you pushed through.

Photo by Marcella Gruchalak

Every day you continue your attempt to get through to her, but it seems as if she’s retained very little from the previous ride. She does not want to learn and she’s set in her ways. Every interaction with this horse is an unpleasant one. Even the simple tasks such as picking hooves and tacking up become hour long training sessions.

Photo by Marcella Gruchalak

After several months, you’re worn down and if feels as if your trying and testy horse is just getting warmed up. Despite the feeling of defeat, you put on your boots and you go to the barn anyway.

But, this is the horse you can thank for your improved riding and horsemanship.

Photo by Marcella Gruchalak

Undeterred by the stress and negative feelings, you have improved your overall horsemanship and riding skills within several months of owning this horse. You’ve learned new skills and gained confidence in areas you were lacking. This horse has taught you more than your first unicorn that packed you around as a beginner.

Photo by Alicia Johnston

This is the horse that has taught you to never give up. Although progress is slow, you are making it. On so many occasions you wanted to sell this horse to the first person who offered to take her, but you continued trying each day. If you fell to the ground six times, you hopped back in the saddle seven. You were determined to get through to this horse.

Photo by Marcella Gruchalak

You expanded your training techniques. All the methods you were familiar with and used frequently didn’t work for this horse, so you had to reach out to others to find other effective ways to teach skills. You spent your free time researching how to engage the horse, move her feet, make her focus and how to fatigue her enough to take the edge off.

Photo by Marcella Gruchalak

You developed a better seat at an expedited rate. This horse knew exactly what to do to eject you from the saddle. You quickly learned how to sit deep in your seat and ride out each maneuver she pulled out of her bag of tricks. After riding her for a few months, you feel like you’d have a successful second career in bronc riding, but you’re not willing to try and find out.

Photo by Marcella Gruchalak

Aside from riding, you learned more about the care of your horse. You learned different techniques to identify pain and discomfort, such as palpation tests and watching body movement on a lunge line. These techniques helped you to rule out pain as a cause of bad behavior and now you can effectively utilize these techniques on other horses.

Photo by Marcella Gruchalak

You got fit! You should have taken a before and after fitness photo of yourself because you’ve most likely accumulated more muscle tone after riding this horse for a month or two! This horse was not the horse you pulled out to go on a leisurely trail ride. On this horse, you had to ride correctly 100% of the time. There was no room for sloppy riding once in the saddle. This was also not the horse you rode to walk around the arena with your friends and chat. When riding this horse, you and the horse put in hard work.

Photo by Marcella Gruchalak

After months, or even years, of frustration, crying and endless Google searches, this horse has provided you with more than a headache. This is the horse you can thank for making you a better horsewoman or horseman and teaching you to never give up. A great horsemen once stated that, “The hardest horses to train are the most rewarding,” and, if you’ve crossed paths with this horse, you are aware this statement is true.

In the end, the horse that has caused you extreme stress and many injuries, has become the horse that you have formed the closest bond with. She may become your most reliable mount and the nicest horse in the barn, or she’ll always be a bit of a firecracker. But, you are grateful for the knowledge and skills you gained learned from riding her.

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