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Arabians Looking for Riders with Brains
by Jan Austin

Copyright © 1998 The Arabian Network Newsletter
A good friend faxed a John Lyons article which appeared in the March issue of Horse & Rider to the newsletter. Here is the excerpt:

“Remind yourself of why you got horses in the first place. I’ll bet it was because you love them and simply wanted to ride, not because you wanted a tool that would help you beat someone else. There’s not an award worth winning that will take away the sting of knowing you destroyed the partner who helped you win it. Unless winning is a total commitment to fairness, the win is empty. Take the responsibility for building a positive relationship with your horse. He’ll never be a world-class performer without it.”

As the cliché goes, “truer words were never spoken.” Anyone who truly loves animals, and loves horses in particular, knows that to care for a horse is to take responsibility for that animal’s care. Abuses to win exist in almost any sport, but it is only in horse competition that the horse pays the price. One only need to visit a local feed lot to find the horses that were discarded once the ribbons stopped coming or the owner became bored.

 


Photo by Paula DaSilva
The flip of the coin is the almost indescribable feeling one gets by learning through and with a horse. Bad day at work? Hop on a horse, and suddenly the stress is miles away. Need more exercise? You and your horse can be partners in a fitness program that is good for you both. Want to feel a sense of accomplishment? You don’t have to win ribbons, although they can be the icing on the cake; after knowing that you communicated to a living being in such a way as to grow in understanding him, and to watch as that same horse tries so hard to help you achieve your goals.

All of this can be achieved without cruelty, selfishness, and conceit. But there is one element that is often lacking and is essential when choosing equestrian activities for your lifestyle. That element is patience. An element often ignored by Homo sapiens (this writer included). Whether riding for sport or recreation; whether learning for competition or self improvement; whether raising a foal for the experience, fun, or business; whether training a horse for yourself or someone else; nothing happens overnight. And nothing happens without patience.

Nor should it. Patience is the lesson that sometimes seems to be the hardest to learn, but always ends up to have the most rewards. We live in a world and some of us live in a generation, where the quicker the better, and success is measured not in the time it takes to do something right, but who gets there first, regardless of the consequences. Most of the time, this race only results in the knowledge too late that the outcome was not what we expected or worse, was not worth the price paid.

So enjoy horses for the joy they bring; cherish them for the way they enrich your life; and the next time you hear any of these phrases, “buy this horse and you will double your money after he wins the championship”, “put this horse in training and she will win the Nationals three months from now, I guarantee it”, “breed to this horse and next year you will have a foal worth $30,000”, “this horse will make your daughter Junior National Champion even if she has never been on a horse”, “I am sure this horse has at least one more endurance ride in him”, look deeply into that horses eyes, and you will know the real truth.

Oh, and by the way: For those with no patience but would like some. Take riding lessons. With the right instructor, there is no better teacher of patience than a horse.

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