Time and time again, I am asked what the single biggest issue facing horses is, and my answer, as I’ve walked a lot of miles as an advocate for equines, is too few qualified homes.
I cannot number the amount of inquiries I receive day in and out for a robotic, safe, explosion proof, young, fancy, spotted and registered gelding for 16hh for $200.
You may think I jest, but I’m not, really.
It is not just that many people seek a horse that doesn’t exist, it is that the horse world has done a terrible job of making the novice person realize how horsemanship and training cannot be overlooked.
Instead of asking, “Is this horse beginner, child and a bomb proof,” start asking, “Where can my child and myself learn to become capable horse people.”
The truth, even the intermediate level riders and the pros are hesitant to admit they do not know as much as they think they do, either.
I guess it comes from the horse world being driven so much by competition and economics. It creates a fear of admitting maybe we do it wrong a lot, and a fear of dissuading a buyer of a horse because that puts food on the table.
But the fact is, most horses will never be remotely beginner safe. And most people will never work hard enough to even more beyond “bare bones beginner” rider.
So what do we do with that?
Horses change hands so much NOT because we outgrow them, but because we cannot ever grow enough to be a decent partner for them.
While I occasionally hear from someone who is looking for a more challenging horse, almost all inquiries of someone who isn’t compatible with their current horse is based in lack of skill on the person’s end.
But people never want to admit that, and even if they do, their answer is to find another horse, thus creating issues in a new horse, instead of investing time and money in lessons and horsemanship skill building.
We would never suggest our young teenage child that has no experience driving a vehicle at all just take our keys, hop in the Ferrari and take it for a spin through downtown Dallas, but too many times, people will look for the least costly and least time consuming way to get their child (or themselves) in the seat on a horse’s back. . .and the reasons as to why can only cycle back the industry (trainers, lesson instructors, breeders, vets, farriers and rescuers) failing to make it clear that you should never ride without knowledge and that gaining knowledge is a life long endeavor.
Thankfully, this puts the power in our hands – those operating in any professional sense in the equine world – and WE can change this one person at a time.
It is my hope in a decade, we have more good riders and owners. . .not just more backyards with horses standing in them.