Throughout the years that I've taught riding lessons, I have seen a lot of horse and rider combinations. Some seem to be a match made in heaven, others not so much.
Maybe the rider didn't have any access to a professional when horse shopping. They might not have had a regular riding instructor or wanted to take lessons. The horse could have been misrepresented when being advertised. Then there is the common problem of riders purchasing a horse for its good looks and not being realistic about their ability to ride it. There are more reasons than I have time to list that a horse and rider combination might not work together well. Maybe initially they were a good match, and now the rider's skill level has exceeded the horse's physical ability.
There are a zillion reasons why a horse and rider combination may not end up being a match made in heaven. I have seen riders who end up quitting after being scared by a horse that was too much for them. I have seen horses get hurt while being pushed to do something they physically couldn't do anymore. Maybe the horse the rider chose just isn't appropriate for the discipline the rider wants to participate in.
Riding your horse should be fun. It should be something that you look forward to. It shouldn't be something that makes you anxious or scared. It shouldn't be constantly frustrating. We all know and acknowledge that riding horses is not always easy. That is just part of the learning process. That does not mean it should be a constant struggle, or even worse, put you in danger of getting hurt.
I know how easy it is to fall in love with a horse. Even one that is not appropriate for you. I'm here to say that there is no shame in admitting that even though you love your horse, he just isn't the horse for you. It is not a failure. You aren't letting your horse down. You shouldn't feel like you gave up or that you aren't a good rider. We are all just at different places in our riding. Horses are in different stages of their lives and training. Sometimes our riding and our horses experience just don't align.
I have seen this happen many times. Some riders are so determined that they are willing to push the envelope to make it work. They don't want to give up so they do whatever they have to in order to make it work. They end up getting hurt or discouraged. Some even quit riding because they get so frustrated with feeling like riding is a constant struggle.
It is sad to me to see this happen. Riding, even if you are competitive and doing shows, is still supposed to be fun. If you are scared or struggling with your horse, don't be ashamed to say that you aren't a match made in heaven. We learn from all our horse experiences—both a good one and bad ones.
If you are reading this and admitting to yourself that maybe you and your horse are not a match made in heaven, that is okay! It is nothing to be ashamed of.
I know the thought of having to sell your horse you love so much is devastating. Searching for a different horse may seem daunting. To some, daunting enough that they just decide not to do anything about it. These are the riders who usually end up frustrated or scared and give up riding.
If you can see that you and your horse are not a good match, remember that riding is supposed to be fun. Not to mention, it doesn't matter how much you love your horse. If he is dangerous, or just not trained well enough for you yet, it's okay to admit it. There is no horse worth being so attached to so much that you allow yourself to get put in a situation to get hurt.
Even if you didn't find the right horse on the first try, there is a match made in heaven out there for you. You just have to be patient and find it.
The same thing goes for your horse. Somebody out there is right for him. You just have to find them!
Enlisting the help of a trainer or instructor can help you find a perfect match the second time around. They also will know what kind of rider would be the best match for your horse.
It is not giving up to say you and your horse aren't working out. It may make you sad. Acknowledging it though is a big step in your horsemanship. You have learned enough to know your ability level and now know the kind of horse you should have. It's nothing to be ashamed of if you didn't find it the first time around.
Don't struggle and get frustrated, or risk getting hurt. Know that there is a horse out there for you and a perfect home for your horse. Ask for help if you need it. Instructors want their students to succeed so are happy to help them find an appropriate horse.
You should look forward to riding your horse. You should be confident enough to set goals for your riding and work towards them. You shouldn't be anxious about getting on your horse or have to make excuses about why you don't want to ride. If it turns out that you and your horse are not a match made in heaven, acknowledge it. Ask for help!
I hate to see riders enjoyment and confidence in riding be lost due to struggling with the wrong horse. It doesn't have to be that way! Be honest with yourself about your riding skills and riding aspirations, work to find a horse that is a good fit. It may take a lot of patience and time looking, but there is a match made in heaven for both you and your horse.
If you have been struggling with the wrong horse, just know that it is okay to decide it isn't going to work. Riding should be fun, and safe. Don't allow yourself to get so discouraged that you want to quit. Or worse, insist on riding a horse that could hurt you.
Admit that you just aren't a match made in heaven and commit to finding that match the second time around!