Sunday, November 27, 2011

Heart Horse

Lately the term 'heart horse' has come up in my perusings of the internet.  As far as I can tell, your heart horse is the horse that is your equine soulmate.  People that own their heart horse may struggle, but they always come back to how they feel about their horse which is so strong that the struggle is worth it.  At least this seems to be what I'm reading about.

I wonder about this (and worry..duh...who would I be if I didn't worry about it!) and I think a lot about my current horse and my past horses.  I'm not sure I've had a heart horse even though I've had six horses and leased a few others.  I have loved them all in their own way, but there wasn't one horse that felt like it was 'it' for me. 

It's raining and windy today and I'm skipping going out to the barn in favor of hanging out with my family and doing some Christmas decorating.  But what's bothering me is that I still don't really *want* to go to the barn.  That my ride yesterday wasn't horrible, but it wasn't much fun.  Princess was spooky and inattentive and sucked back and above the bit.  We had some success with her being nice and quiet in the cross ties and letting me clean some scurf off her back legs, but I don't feel bonded with her.

Am I putting too much pressure on us?  Maybe.  I've now owned her a little over six months and have only started really trying to fix our relationship for about a month (right when I started blogging actually).  But I still contemplate if she's the right horse for me.  How different would things be if I had a horse that I knew was going to stand quietly while I brushed her.  A horse that I felt confident working on my seat with, maybe even a horse I could work on riding without stirrups.  Would I want to go out to the barn today if I had a horse that I could practice wrapping polo wraps on without fear of getting kicked in the face? 

I looked at quiet, well trained schoolmasters and tried quite a few.  They were almost all lovely, well behaved gentleman.  One cute little Arab even followed me around like a dog.  But I didn't feel a pull for him.  I didn't think about him after I left the barn.  The Princess was the only horse that after I left I was excited.  And nervous.  But I couldn't stop thinking about her.  She seemed like a diamond in the rough at the time.  She was underweight, out of shape and a total love bug.

Six months later (and having six months of pro training behind her) she seems more rough than diamond.  She pins her ears when you brush her girth.  She kicks when you touch her *there* (warning kicks but still kicks), she waves her back feet around and tries to yank them away, she freaks out in the wash stall, she spooks almost every single ride, she bucks or kicks out at the whip.  She pins her ears when I walk in front of her in the cross ties, she wants to nip when I fasten the front of her blanket...the list goes on of minor things that shouldn't matter. 

If Princess were my boyfriend I would be breaking up with her.  I would be telling my friends that no relationship should be this hard and if you have a list of complaints like the one I have, that it's just not the right person.  But she's not my boyfriend, she's my pony.  And I worry that the problem is just me and my confidence.  Once upon a time I was a decent rider and loved the challenge of a green (but sane) horse.  I loved the feeling of taking a horse from knowing nothing to being a solid citizen.  Can I get that back?  Or am I wasting my time with a horse that's not my heart horse??  I also realize that if I did want to sell the pony, it would likely be a long expensive process since I would have to pay someone to sell her for me and all the trainers around here require full time training to sell a horse for you.

As you can see from my incredibly long post, I have questions upon questions about this pony.  This is part of why I'm keeping this blog.  So that I can remind myself that there will be days like this.  The other part (and my favorite part) has been hearing other people's stories and getting great advice from people who have been there.

p.s.  Is it just me or does it seem like a lot of women buy the wrong horse when they get back into horses as an adult??  It seems like there are a lot of stories of the *first* horse being the wrong one.


  1. Oy...this is a tough question. The thing is, you haven't had her that long, and you've been in training with her only a month or so? That's nothing!
    That said, I've found that mares "in general" are less affectionate than geldings. That doesn't mean a mare can't be someone's "heart horse", but the most personable horses I've met in my life have all been geldings. They just seem more happy to see you, more interested in you, etc. Then again, my first horse (and last horse, haha) Chamie was THE perfect first horse, in every way, and she's a mare. Still, she wasn't (and still isn't) overly affectionate-but she would try her heart out for you under saddle. I guess it depends on what you're looking for. Don't give up on Princess yet. Sometimes our heart horses are just waiting for us to get in the game:)

  2. Do you have any friends at the barn? I know that even on the days I don't feel like riding, it is always nice to go out and see my friends at the barn. They also help and encourage you when you need it.
    I know someone who started out with a horse like yours, and he is still touchy about some things, like being brushed (uber sensitive skin). I wasn't around at the time, but it seems like the beginning was difficult and very scary and there were times the person in question was almost ready to give up because it was so tough.
    But she stuck with it, and years later that horse will walk off a cliff for her if she asks him to. He tries SO terribly hard to please her under saddle. He can still be a handful at times, but she knows how to deal with it and it doesn't faze her anymore. He became her heart horse.
    So, I think you have to decide what kind of journey you're looking to take.

  3. Sarah-I had her in full time training with a different trainer for six months but have only been with my current trainer for about a month. So yeah, it's early still.
    Steph- I don't have any friends at the barn. Partly because I ride in the mornings and there's never anyone out there. The people at my barn are friendly, but most of them are 20 years older or 20 years younger.
    I think I'm hoping that this will be my Heart Horse but still at the beginning stages where everything can be so hard!

  4. Are you ever able to go out in the afternoons or evenings? Horses tend to be a really good equalizer when it comes to age, and people you never thought you'd be friends with often become great wells of support since we can all talk about our riding and goals for our horses and ourselves. I'm mid-twenties and have barn friends in their mid-teens and barn friends in their 70s. Having friends you can laugh at the silly stuff (like spooking at their own poop) with and ride with makes a HUGE difference in the whole atmosphere of riding, I think.

  5. Steph- My schedule doesn't really allow for me to go out afternoons and evenings because that's when the kidlet is home. But I'm thinking when spring rolls around I may switch to an evening lesson for just that reason. Most of my barn friends in the past weren't close to my own age either, so I agree, it's not a huge deal. And yes, I wish so BADLY there was someone there to crack up with me about how my pony spooked at her own poop!!