I need a new horse, this one I have isn’t a good fit (barn sour, lazy, aggressive, too high strung, too slow)

Have you ever wondered why a good horseman can work with almost ANY horse and develop a rapport (a working relationship built on trust) where the previous “issues” seem to melt away with a bit of time?

That isn’t horse-whisperer / magic stuff, it is just knowledge folks.

I’ve watch it over and over.

Many of us working in good circles of horsemanship know those horsemen and women that can take most any horse (I know there are occasional exceptions), overcome the issues people claimed they had and have them working with them like a charm in just a little while. . .

Most of us can remember seeing the horse back in the hands of those with less skill, and the issues coming back. That is a people problem. It isn’t the horse’s problem.

  • Owner, “I can’t get my horse to do this.” Quality trainer gets on and in 14 minutes, horse does “this” without hesitation. Sometimes they find a source of pain or they sort out the issue on the horse’s level. . .but they look for an answer because a good horse person knows most of the time. . . there is an answer.

If you’re really looking for the an answer to a problem, you don’t throw away your paper with the question on it, having learned nothing, to look for a whole new sheet, new problem. You solve the first problem.

The horse is literally almost NEVER the brain and body at fault.

You Are. We are. A Person was/is.

We create the issues. We grow the issues. We blame the horse. We pass him down the line to someone else equally green and unwilling to learn. We doom the horse.

Eventually, the horse, treated unfairly and unwilling to believe he will ever get a fair deal, ends up in on a truck headed to Mexico, and the person who started out failing that horse (now doomed) is on their 12th horse, looking for the “One” who will mesh. The person keeps ruining horses. The horses keep meeting bad ends or suffering a lot because someone comes to their aid.

The truth is, outside of competition needs or rider / horse handicaps, most any horse, if  you are committed to learning, have a good support base and are working with a knowledgeable trainer for the long haul, can work for you for a long time, and often, that means forever.


We talk about the unwanted horse issue, the overpopulation issue, but rarely do we stop to admit the truth is. . .we actually have more of a rider issue, a horseman issue.

I’ve said it before. I’ve said it a lot. I haven’t said it enough.

Horses are returned, labelled, sold, traded and dumped over and over, when almost every single time, a person could have recognized their lack of skill was the issue and opted to learn instead of continually seeking out another, then another, then another. . .

I’ve been to the sale barns for almost 30 years. I’ve known horse traders, dealers, casual owners, breeders, competitors, trainers and everything beyond – before – between.

The issue 30 years ago, the issue now (though it is growing larger). . .is we are churning out horses that don’t receive an education, and even when they do, there is a well intended person there to undo it, sure they were “born with enough skill” to care for and ride. . .

Let’s be clear: No one is born with enough innate ability to stop learning. You’re possibly born with interest, natural softness, patience and balance. . .sure. . .that isn’t enough by a long short. It is a nice start, if you’re lucky enough to be one of those folks. You’ve got a million miles more to travel, if you’re willing.



Experience and learning from those who have already walked miles beyond where you are is so vital, so needed.

Being willing to learn, admitting you do not know, admitting 3 summer rides on trail ponies at a camp didn’t make you a horse trainer. . .it can make all the difference to a horse. At the very least, it saves their life. At the very best, it means they get a fair deal, that they are someone’s partner.

So when you see someone going from horse to horse, always presenting a reason why that last horse didn’t work for them, try to steer them a better direction.

Suggest a trainer, suggest getting help with that horse, suggest having fortitude and commitment to learning.  If they listen, you’ll have done the person and horse a favor that will last a lifetime. 

Awesome meme credit to the MadEquine


6 thoughts on “I need a new horse, this one I have isn’t a good fit (barn sour, lazy, aggressive, too high strung, too slow)

  1. Rider needs TRAINING! And better horse sense! Not willing to do the work! Horses are the most willing creatures. People aren’t.

  2. If he’s aggressive you don’t need speed. Re-start ground work. When he’s ready work up to jump. Get the switch out of his face. His jump is off but he’s moving. You posture for the jump is off balance. Squat and lean forward, loose rain, look ahead. You need training too!

  3. I agree. To a point.

    Sometimes the hand skill level will never be enough to handle a horse.

    If I am running barrels, I dont want a dead head horse.

    If I am just doing trails, then a barrel horse is probably going to drive me batty.

    Sometimes sellers lie. Sometimes horses are drugged.

    Sometimes, you get someone like me, who cna fix a horse, but at 50+ with M.S. and diabetes…I just do not have the energy to deal with it.

    I used to train horses for $. Now I train dogs.

    I dont think people should be “guilted” into keeping something they are not happy with.

    That said, people should not impulse buy, either. Take your time. And if someone else buys that horse, just figure it was written in the stars….but ….

    So, best would be, if everyone would just be honest and honorable….how many sellers say “You know, Ms Jones, I am really not sure this horse is a great fit for you….how about I refer you to John Doe….”…..90% wont do that if it means they will lose a 10k sale…..

  4. I’m 71 and just got into horses. I guess I’m lucky as all my horses are great. I just believe all of them had some kind of experience so must be better than me. I just walk them a lot and when we are friends I just saddle them up and sit. If they want to walk that’s fine. Then I start ground work. All I ask of them is to respect me and enjoy our time together. I’m to old to do any of the fast stuff.

  5. I have to stand up a bit to this brow beating on inexperienced horse people such as I. In Certain circumstances sometimes it is better for a person to realize a particular horse is not the right fit. Sometimes it is better for a horse to go to an owner who wants a certain type of horse to fit in their needs. I did not give up on my horse. I was just going to keep him. He wasn’t dangerous unless someone was going to try to get on him. Then the flight instinct took over. He was a good boy and we loved him. One day someone offered a home for him as a companion to their horse. I knew the people who he would be boarded with and that they are experienced and kind horse people who could work with him if requested to do so. I found a much calmer sweet horse who would not run away from my children who are special needs. I live in a location where if I shipped my horse to a trainer it would be an hour away and cost way too much to be affordable for us. I am learning, and I am willing to learn more. I do not expect a horse to understand me as a human. I am not going to just go from horse to horse ruining them and then throwing them away like a damaged toy. Each horse has a precious soul and they all deserve dignity and love. I do not think these emotionally disconnected people who think these animals are just an object should own them. That being said I also don’t think judgement and brow beating is deserved for many special situations. If a person is not willing to learn everything they can about an elven hundred pound fifteen hand animal that can easily kill them then they definitely should not own one. I am very knowledgeable on the subject of horses and generally knowledgeable about many animals. My heart is all in. I have great respect for them and great respect for professional trainers who are understanding and patient with animals and the people who love them.

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