Of Horse

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To All The Lesson Horses
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To All The Lesson Horses

An instructor is only as a good her lesson horses. I recently sold the best lesson horse I’ve ever had, and I miss his security already. He was a partner that I could always count on, but being a lesson horse is hard work and it was time for him to get a vacation.

When looking for a lesson horse to replace him, it got me thinking about how much we expect from these co-workers that we cannot verbally communicate to. They have to be predictable; I have to know that the worst thing they will do is take one extra step to the left if a bolt of lightning strikes nearby while a big flapping tarp goes floating through the arena. My co-worker must be gentle in his reaction no matter what the scenario; it is literally a matter of life and death. If a child is going to fall, it had better be the child’s fault and not my partner. At the same time, he (or she) needs to have something that makes him (or her) a little challenging. The rider has to learn something after all, so long as it’s challenging in a fun, learning way!

These wonderful animals deal with so much no matter who owns them, but for a lesson horse they must have the strength to deal with anyone who comes near him. They are constantly being given the wrong cues and pulled on in the wrong direction. No matter how good the instructor, there is always a learning curve for students, and the lesson horse is the one that takes the brunt of that. A lesson horse has to be forgiving over and over again.

I remember my first lesson horse that I rode. A child will carry that first horse in their hearts their whole lives. Even for students that don’t continue riding. Everyone has a horse story, no matter how short it was. “I rode this big horse named Fish who was this red color and he had a white stripe down his face.” I’ve heard this opening line a hundred times with a hundred different colors and names. When people hear you work with horses, they want to tell you their first experience. As an instructor, it’s my responsibility to make sure that first experience is a great one, and my lesson horses are the key to that experience.

These lesson horses give confidence; they let you know that you can actually ride a horse! You can control a thousand pound animal, because they make it possible through their gentle demeanor. My heart becomes so full when a child ties a bond with one of my lesson horses. I am so grateful to that horse for what he does not only for me, but all of the riders he has loved and given wings to. I am so grateful for how well these horses take care of all of us.

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  1. mollysbiz
    Beautifully said!
  2. jst4horses
    I sometimes feel like the negative spirit, but we do not utilize our school horses and let them go. They have made money for us, they have started so many in their way in riding............My forty year old horse was still the favorite of high risk youth and veterans and their families. No one came without bringing him a treat, he loved the other animals in our program, so we surrounded him with their kennels on two sides. A blind lesson horse abandoned at our ranch, had once been a very well bred, expensive race horse, when his 33 year old seeing eye pal, a mustang that had to be sold by his owner when her husband had heart replacement surgery, my forty year old took over the job. Everyone loved to turn him loose and let him go around the stable visiting his friends, and into the turn out corral and run around and roll. A friend donated her older first horse to a therapy program, she became stumbly and they were going to sell her to the slaughter. They had said they would give her back, but wanted money..........my friend was getting a divorce and could not afford even the $300 they demanded. The slaughter fee. I bought her and spent 13 years with her working with me every single day in schools, and high risk youth programs, and after Desert Storm with women and children who were court mandated from the PTSD problems the mothers were having with their children. I now keep the program horses at Oak Meadow Ranch (you can see video on u tube) which is a horse sanctuary that is now doing veteran and their family VETSRIDEFREE programs.........and other therapy programs. Animal control officers volunteer time there...........and brings in horses that someone bought cheap for their kids, who are no longer interested, and has just been left to starve on days the kids "forget" and the parents don't even look. I feel a horse that works needs to be cared for. Horses are herd animals and love their families and friends, I truly believe, have lived (without buying treats for me, when necessary and keeping an account just for emergencies for horses, not me) to make sure my horses have a life long home. I hope one day horses will be more free, or just free............we have cars, we have trains, and busses, and do not need them to be a whimsy from the past.. Those who do work so we can enjoy.............I surely have never heard a horse say, WOW wonder where those strange persons are who like to jump on my back and go around wherever) if we take them away from their natural lives, we need to guarantee them a lifelong friend and safe, secure lliving. I work with many horses who have been sold off, or down. One young girl had nowhere to turn after she rode in rocks, fast, and broke her professional barrel racing horse's front leg. She did not even get her vetted soon enough. I heard she was going to give her to a mean overweight boy I knew would just ride her until the foot broke off, so I said, I will take her. I took her to the computerized scanners, and did the best we could for her. She has an amazing shoer, who helps her have as little pain as possible, and she is a favorite with women veterans who are so injured they think they will never be acceptable to themselves, let alone anyone else ever again. She saves lives. The day her owner went off to college, she came by to say good bye to the mare. It really harmed my heart to see how sad that horse was, she knew.......she had not liked me very much, but that afternoon, after her old owner had left, she came up and I knew, she was saying, you are a poor substitute, but I am stuck with you...... I teach all my students, just as I do about having human children, or dogs, or cats, a horse is a very complex animal that loves for life...............we need to treat them better, they are not bicycles at the gym to help us make money, or give us fun, and then just disgard. I heard one of the owners while I was training baby race horses at the track, minimum price one million, ......say to his son, don't get attached, this is a business investment, what a jerk..................God bless, sorry to be a downer, but I think we humans give horses a stinky deal.
    1. swphorses
      That is wonderful that you can keep your lesson horses their whole lives. I certainly hope to be able to do that one day. Unfortunately I don't own my own property and boarding horses here is quite a bit more expensive. So I do have to only keep the horses that I use 5 days a week for lessons. The horse that I sold was a rescue and in bad shape when I got him, and I knew there was a chance that he wouldn't keep up forever as a lesson horse. But he stayed healthy and up to the task for 3 years. Just recently I noticed that he was getting a little stiffer and I didn't want to push him longer than I had. So I found the perfect home for him, a 9 year old girl rides him now, maybe 3 times a week and lightly, and he gets turned out daily on lovely green pasture! This has helped his joints move freely often and given him back his spunk. And he is completely adored by his new owner. His new home also happens to be a friend of mine who I trust completely and get constant updates from. You're right, these horses deserve the best homes, and this is just perfect for him. Next time please private message me if you would like more information on something I've written, rather than jumping to conclusions.

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