Since one of our horse’s death last month, we’ve been horse hunting, and I’m thrilled to say that I think we’ve found two (yes, two!) horses. With any luck, by the time you read this they will both be here at home. We were lucky, actually, as not all horse-shopping experiences are this positive or quick.
We decided at the start to remain objective and not do something crazy. And by ”crazy” I mean purchasing a horse just because we felt sorry for it, such as the horses we saw at the rescue place, or purchasing the horse we wish we were capable of riding.
The rescue horses all needed homes, but they also required a lot of work and time that we simply don’t have. Even the person in charge of the program agreed that the ones she had wouldn’t suit our needs and lifestyle.
We also weren’t going to take any safety chances. Neither of us would ride a horse unless we saw someone else ride it first, and we wouldn’t ride a horse we weren’t truly interested in purchasing.
We reminisced about experiences we and friends of ours have had with horses, including those that involved ”crashes.” Several decades ago, I jumped a mare we were considering purchasing and, upon landing, she fell with me (over a three-foot jump). Why didn’t we watch someone else jump her first' As both the mare and I picked ourselves up off of the ground, the trainer said that he forgot to mention that the mare had been nerved for navicular and wasn’t always aware of slight changes in the footing. We didn’t buy that horse.
Just a few years ago, my husband and I looked at two Quarter Horse geldings, full brothers, three and four years old, gorgeous and nicely priced. They were green broke, and the one I favored was sweet as can be on the ground and under saddle. We decided to buy him. My husband suggested that we go ahead and purchase both of them. Excited, I got on the other one the next day and then spent six weeks recovering from a nasty crash. Why did I do that' No one rode him first. I just climbed up, and I knew better than that.
John Strassburger, our Performance Editor, did a similar thing just this past spring. He’d started this horse’s two half-brothers without a problem. And, for reasons I’m sure he’ll never truly understand, he decided to skip backing the horse and simply mount up. The next ride he took was in a helicopter to the local hospital’s intensive care unit.
John knew better, too, and he’s as much a ”safety freak” as I am. So why do we do these dumb things' And how do other people get away with doing these dumb things'
We all know we’re supposed to always wear a helmet when we ride. How often have you broken that rule' I always use safety stirrups, the kind that help prevent your foot from getting stuck if you’re thrown. My Sprenger stirrups are costly, but they’re more comfortable than any stirrup I’ve ever used and the price is small compared to being dragged. Yet, I’ve ridden in other saddles with regular irons.
Safety rules get broken all the time. But it seems that it’s the experienced people who get hurt. When I see someone doing something stupid, I often wonder how they get away with it when I get nailed every time. My husband always smiles and replies, ”We can’t do that because we know better. And God protects fools and animals.”