I know that title may sound a little harsh. I do not believe that one horse's quality of life is any more or less important than any another, regardless of the monetary value of the horse. Whether you have a $500 Heinz 57 or a $150,000 Grand Prix jumper , the same basic care is required to maintain the basic health of just about every horse..... Clean hay and water, (and an adequate amount of it), worming, shelter, dry ground, vet care, etc.. While it is true that your expenses can vary drastically depending on your discipline or how you use your horse, the survival needs of any horse, no matter how it is used, remains the same. I am infuriated by people that think that just because your horse is cheap or you stop using that old or unsound horse, it somehow means that its needs are diminished as well. The older horse needs MORE care, not less. But I digress....
My point behind this post is "junk" horses. This is a term that sadly I use and thinking of it now, may have actually developed. It has little to do with the quality of the horse and everything to do with my mindset.
Here is my problem with my mindset; I lack confidence in my ability. More than anything else, I hold myself back by not having the conviction to ask my horse to do something with authority because I am afraid that I am doing it "wrong" and I do not want to punish or screw up the horse with my own lack of skill. This problem stems from knowing that I am doing is wrong but being unable to do it right. You see, I have a passion for reining but for a number of reasons was unable to ride, take lessons, or compete. So I did what I could from the sideline to educate myself on all aspects of the sport, from judging, to training, showing, breeding etc.. So I have a very clear idea in my head of how I want things to look and how I want to do things but I lack the skill or experience to execute what is in my head. This leads to a tremendous about of frustration and that frustration inhibits what ability I do have, and then nothing works and I get mad at myself and so the vicious cycle goes. What I hear more than anything in my lessons is "get out of your head!! and just do it!!" All of this is compounded by my mare, Abby. Is it because she is so hard to ride or so volatile that I could screw her up? No! It is because I think she is so amazing and so talented and I know she TRIES so hard to do what I ask that I end up feeling like such a loser when I rider her! lol...it is the truth. I feel like in acting that scene from Wayne's World, wherein I would bow down and chant, "I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy!" at her feet. How stupid is that! My trainer insists that I can "screw her up" but I just cant help it. I digress yet again....
On to "junk horses"!! What is a "junk" horse? A horse that I do not feel like bowing down to and saying, "I'm not worthy!" A horse that I can actually feel competent to ride! A horse that is athletic, well conformed, good minded and willing! What is "junk" about that?? Nothing! The only difference is that these horses make me feel like I can actually help them learn! Some horses have so little basic training and foundation on them that as lowly as I may be, I can still actually help them become better horses and I can do nothing to screw them up because they have no training in them to screw up! Lastly, right or wrong, these horse are not "valuable". As much as I would like to live in an alter universe where money doesn't matter, in this world, it does and taking a $2000 and "playing with it" is not nearly as intimidating as taking a $20,000 horse home to just fart around with in the arena and hope that you are doing things right!
This whole post stemmed from a comment I left on BrownEyed Cowgirls blog this morning. You wont find it there because the blogger gods don't like me today and stole my post! Grrrr.... I had suggested, in my very long winded comment yesterday (sorry BECG), that she learn to train reining maneuvers on a horse that she could afford to screw up on. I never meant to imply that she actually WOULD screw it up. I seriously doubt it. But training a horse or trying new techniques on a horse that you don't feel is your next world champion is a hell of a lot easier and different IN YOUR OWN MIND than doing so with a horse that shows a tremendous amount of promise and that you feel responsible for in allowing them to reach their full potential (ie- that delicious little Shooter!))
I also feel it necessary to point out that, as much as I respect what top trainers can get their horses to do, reining is not rocket science. IMHO, the key to reining is understanding HOW a maneuver works and then knowing, inside and out, how it is judged. HOW IT IS JUDGED. It doesn't matter how fast you can spin or how long you can stop, if you don't get how reining is judged, you will not win. Learning the techniques to getting a horse finished is difficult, but again, not rocket science. There are many different techniques to training a turn around. I could suggest a few. But what I cant do, and I am pretty sure that BECG can do, is employ her SKILLS to utilize a training technique.... the SKILLS that every good trainer has, no matter what the discipline! Those skills come from experience and good foundation of equitation...things like body awareness and control of the rider (knowing where her hands, feet, weight etc. is and being able to adjust it), horse body control (being able to feel what your horse is actually doing, where its weight is, etc. and being able to adjust it), knowing when to push, when to stop, consistency, timing, rate, all of those countless variables that you need to have mastered in order to train. What technique you are using to train a specific maneuver means nothing if you don't have the skill to employ it! I am still trying to develop them and BECG is trying to figure out how to put hers to use!
That "junk" term is really not right, is it? What a horrible way to talk about an animal! I hereby promise to not use that term again. What is another term that I could use to refer to a horse that does not make my heart go pitter patter but that is still something I am attracted to and could use to build my confidence in myself?