When I think of the issues in the Equine world, though there are many, I find myself coming back over and over again to the fact we are at a Rider Deficit in America.
Maybe we always have been, and in the “Information” age, it is now just entirely too evident, but either way, it is a massive problem. This is an area that is all too connected to the Unwanted Horse issue we face, and it is the area most often overlooked. When folks do address it, the approach seems to be to make the horses we consider intermediate or advanced in type beginner friendly, but I suspect that is entirely the WRONG approach.
While making sure the essentials are imparted to all horses adopted out through rescue, bred or sold is vital and shouldn’t be overlooked, all equine professionals know that much of what is instilled in horses through training only lasts as long as the “new owner” allows it to, so in some ways, we are working backward by trying to create horses with more knowledge instead of creating “riders.”
I cannot number how many times in the decade where I’ve read postings, blogs and heard rescue directors, trainers and those who sell horses as a business comment on how easy it would be to adopt out, place or sell a “Dead Broke Horses.” Enumerable inquiries come in from beginners on the quest for “the horse anyone can be safe on.” While we do not believe the term “dead broke” is particular accurate in regards to any horse, we get what this implies. Dead Broke = A Horse any person lacking the most basic skills could safely sit, and yes, that horse has the very highest chance of finding a home in this market. They also have the best chance of staying in their home if they are able to remain “DEAD BROKE” through mishandling, but even the safest horse usually will not do this (See our blog Making a Beginner Horse Dangerous).
I guess one could suggest that the goal of trainers, rescues and others who work to find homes for horses should be to make more “DEAD BROKE” horses, but it isn’t. This is not a realistic or decent goal, either.
What we need are better riders. We need people who become riders and are able to take horses with a good foundation further; thereby, creating real partnerships, more evenly matched pairs with progress in mind, with a future in mind. We need horseman and horsewomen, not “dead” passengers on the backs of broken, numb horses.
The equine world must have trainers, rescues and other equine professionals or organizations pushing “HUMAN” instruction and partnership learning, so that the horses we have are actually candidates for more homes.
Buyers, Owners and adopters need to let go of the EGOS that say we know enough, know everything or do not need more knowledge.
Buyers, homes, riders and parents need to open their eyes to see these huge, emotional, volatile and sensitive beings DESERVE Riders. Being a passenger does the horse a disservice and it creates an ocean full of smart, willing horses NO ONE is ever good enough for, and that is a huge part of the “Unwanted Horse” problem we face. Horses are passed around from unskilled barn to unskilled barn, learning more bad habits and becoming less and less apt to ever be a willing partner. They become numb, painful and angry, and we blame them for it.
We have to realize that most horses will never accept unskilled passengers who make a plethora of painful and harmful mistakes each time they lead their horse or sit on the back of their horse and stay safe. Knowing this, the only answer must be to facilitate more people becoming qualified Riders.
The answer to finding a home for every horse is making more homes a possibility to the average horse.
At Heart of Phoenix, while laying down the foundation for each horse, exploring their potential and giving them reasons to wish to be a partner for a person are all huge goals, we see the direction must be to create more RIDERS, and then we will see more horses able to become the #RIGHTHORSE for more homes.