Lessons I Have Learned About an Inappropriate Mount
By Sue Smolka
Some horses are simply beyond the reach of some riders. Period. Father time has made a believer out of me.
A couple of decades ago, I purchased my dream horse. He was 16 hands, gray, AngloArab, 3 years old, green broke, smart, athletic, loved his humans and oh could he dance. This horse floated across the pasture barely touching the ground. This horse had the kind of personality that arrived 20 minutes ahead of him. This was the horse of little girl fantasies. My son would throw a ball into the pasture and Rocky would bring it back. He was always in your pocket. Rocky was amazing in every way – except he simply was not going to carry me on his back. This was the first time in my riding career I found myself with an inappropriate mount.
Not one to give up, I worked with trainers, took lessons, worked him every day, trailered to veterinarians to verify he was okay. Yet, every ride felt like a near-death experience. He simply saw no value in carrying me on his back. One day, my trainer said: “Sue, Rocky is a nice horse, but maybe he isn’t the horse for you.” Shock! Silence! 3 days of crying and I realized she was right. This horse was simply not my horse, so with a broken heart, I sold him.
Rocky was replaced with another gray, 16 hand Arabian cross. What a lovely horse. She was not as athletic, she could not float across the pasture without touching the ground; although pretty, not breathtaking. In my mind, she was a step-down. Then, that horse took me to such wonderful places. I could compete again, I could go wherever my buddies were going, on and on the happiness, she brought to my life. I could have continued to struggle with Rocky, an inappropriate mount, or get an appropriate mount and rediscover the joy of the horse/human bond.
So, I thought I would share a couple of lessons I have learned about an inappropriate mount:
- Every ride should not feel like a near-death experience.
- Do you have to ride or get to ride?
- Your horse does not enjoy the work you want to do.
- If you are afraid when you sit in the saddle, you are on the wrong horse.
- Your friends stop inviting you to ride with them.
- You fall off regularly.
- Your horse runs off with you.
- You are constantly looking at “fixes” for behavioral problems.
If you find yourself with an inappropriate mount, please understand there is no shame in it. This happens to all of us at some point. I suggest to you, dry your tears and let the horse go where he or she is a better fit. Find a horse that suits your needs and brings you joy. You will both be the better for it.