...It got to the point where she was paying for the trainer to ride him 2-3 days a week, took two lessons a week, 1-2 days off, and either didn't ride or wouldn't do much more than walk around on her horse on the last day. It was like this for the last three years...
...There's a line between buying a horse that will push you and be something that you can grow with for awhile and something that's too much horse for you.
True. My point is that where the line should be drawn depends on the rider's personality and goals as much as the horse.
My buying Mia was a classic case of buying the wrong horse, to the point of embarrassing. I had never ridden much. I had not touched a horse in 25 years. I was shopping for a horse who could teach me riding. Mia was advertised as "perfect for a beginner".
Yet they wouldn't let me ride Mia in the open. They insisted I ride her in a round pen that was about 30 feet in diameter. They wouldn't even let me lead her back to her stall on foot! She had been donated to this 'charity', sold, and brought back. There were other warning signs, but I'm sure the folks on HF get the picture.
Does this sound in any way like a good horse for a beginner to buy?
Well, I did.
On the spot. They agreed to deliver her. They arrived 3 hours late with a horse who was almost blind with fear. Is it sounding any better?
Any slightly sane person would have refused delivery, even if they had been stupid enough to buy her in the first place.
Yet while she was a horrible choice, she was also a great choice. She is the horse that got me hooked on riding. I'm sure a "Steady Eddie" would have been better for me, but unending challenges have played a huge role in making me love horses.
5 1/2 years later. I rode her yesterday in our little arena. My daughter was riding Trooper, and there was a lot of cantering.
After a few brief canters, Mia began to get competitive with Trooper. And I had moved her back into a snaffle, which is a bit she considers to be used for giving advice, not commands. By the end of the ride, my back was exhausted. I had cussed repeatedly in front of my daughter. I had dismounted once and cantered her in 20 foot circles both directions around me, and then mounted and tried again. I began to plot how to Google 'slaughterhouse + Mexico' and wonder how much the trip would cost me.
And at the end of the ride, Mia had the audacity to give me her, "That was fun! Was it as good for you as it was for me?
For a rider of my skill set, she is still too difficult a horse. But even as a potential rider, I needed a challenge. I needed a horse who needed me. I needed a horse as stubborn, opinionated and dominant as I am. Mia was a horrible choice, and the perfect choice.
She has calmed down greatly in the last 14 months since I switched her to a curb bit. But I doubt she will ever be a very safe trail horse. I think there are a few wires missing in her brain. Looking forward, maybe I still need to 'up my game' as a rider
. And maybe I need to understand that riding her will never be entirely safe. As a rider, she has taught me that staying on is better than looking good. That it is better to sacrifice my pride than my back, and looking stupid grabbing a horn is better than falling off like a pro. She has taught me to anticipate, and to think about minimizing risk instead of eliminating it. Her ability to melt down over absolutely nothing on a trail has taught me that a good trail horse can be as much about breeding as a good dressage horse is. She has certainly taught me that a good trail horse can be admired for exactly that - being a good trail horse!
If I were any less stubborn, dominant or even less stupid, Mia might have gone away, and maybe ended up on a one-way trip to Mexico. But if one looks at a match between horse and rider, that match needs to take into account the rider. Not just the skill set, but the personality.
When a horse and rider are not matched, I think the main problem isn't "X doesn't canter well" or "Y cannot do a flying change". Those things can be taught to a horse if needed. The main mismatch comes in personality.
Mia, for all her faults, doesn't have a mean bone in her body. If she did, I'd have put her down long ago. I honestly think she would prefer to be hurt herself than hurt me, although I understand she could break me in two without meaning to do so. If she was a sneaky horse, or a lazy horse, or one who would buck to get out of work, I'd dump her in a heartbeat. If she had a bad attitude, I'd get rid of her. Instead, she just has a few screws loose...so we are not such a bad match, after all....
And after 5 1/2 years, I still need to become a better rider. For her sake. And mine.