Invest In The Horse, Not The Destination

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We often meet or work with young riders, or young adults, or even older adults, whose goal is to ride in a specific competition or to move up to a certain level in a specific time period. We also regularly meet people who want to sell a horse for a relatively high price in just a few short months ? and it's always a horse whose training and experience is far short of the level needed to achieve that price.

John Strassburger

they're all heading in a direction that's 90-percent guaranteed of failure. They should, instead, invest their time, energy and money in riding, training and caring for their horses, increasing the odds that whatever accomplishments they hoped to achieve will come, although not always as fast as they think.

With horses, the reward comes from the journey with them, not just from reaching a destination. The fun comes from figuring out and developing the horse as an individual and as an athlete. The fun comes from the relationship we develop with those horses and seeing them mature, progress, and (if we have them long enough) to become senior citizens.

Setting goals is a good way to encourage and keep track of our training progress. But those goals should be the foothills and the mountaintops we can see in the distance as we follow the path along our journey. The trick is to enjoy the journey that takes us toward the mountains ? really, to relish the journey.

No journey with a horse is smooth and fast. it's not like zooming along I-95 at 70 miles per hour. it's more like making your way down a bumpy, pot-holed dirt road in a rural area. Sometimes you have to make twists and turns just to stay on the road, but the slower speed allows you to notice things. And sometimes you turn off the road because you see something fascinating, because you want to try something new. Sometimes you might even be forced to turn around and go back to find another road because the one ahead is blocked.

If you do take a side road, make sure to enjoy the view you wouldn?t have seen if you hadn?t gone that way. And if the path is blocked, you have to be willing to study the map to figure out how to navigate through or around the detours.

Riding and training a horse is a slow journey and one that never follows a completely straight path to the mountains far in the distance. that's why ? whether your journey with a particular horse is a long or short one ? you want to make sure to take in all you can experience, along the way.

John Strassburger,
Performance Editor