Saturday, May 15, 2010

Those crazy Thoroughbreds

My ex-racehorse and I have come a long way, but most people will still only see him as "one of those crazy Thoroughbreds." When they see him calmly walking with me, easily doing what I ask, he's "being good," but it must just be that day.

They have never seen him negotiate some weird thing on the trail when he's dead tired just because I asked him to. They haven't seen him load and ride calmly in the front of the trailer simply (I think) because he knows we're going somewhere away from the arena. They have never seen him stand quietly tied to the trailer both before and after a trail ride.

Natalie over at Retired Racehorse caught my attention months ago with her post You Can't Hug a Thoroughbred and it is an attitude that is very common in the Stock horse world, but I think there are tendrils of it everywhere--even in disciplines where Thoroughbreds are welcome and respected.

Yes, they can be hot and dancy and a little distracted at times. No, they are not necessarily the ideal horse for every person or every discipline. But not necessarily because of who they are, more because they deserve a little time and understanding. In disciplines where TBs are accepted, the attitude that they are "just that way" allows owners and trainers the latitude to not really communicate with the horse, and enables them to continue to give a horse input that reinforces that stereotype.

What if you expected your TB to enjoy just walking on a trail? What if you let your racehorse relax and have fun and didn't grab his face, anticipating a spook, when you came up to an obstacle on the trail?

These are random thoughts, things I have started asking myself while Bar and I try to find entertainment with our respective injuries. If I don't tense up as we walk down the driveway past the other ex-racehorse, even as he runs up to us, what does Bar do? Today, he kept on ambling along next to me. Tomorrow it may be different, but isn't that true with all horses? Is any horse *really* bomb proof, or do our expectations color their actions more than we even know?

I have no hard answers, yet, just ideas and things to try with Bar (and Lena--Paints have bad reputations, too). Actually, I doubt hard answers exist anywhere when it comes to horses--seems like it's just a journey you choose to take, one that can open a lot of doors if you're willing to go there.

Bar seems willing to go there with me, so my challenge is to keep both of us engaged and excited.

For him, I can do this--since it's really for both of us anyway.


Anonymous said...

Every horse is an individual, and with very few exceptions, every horse of every breed can be a good equine citizen. That does't mean that every horse is suitable for every rider, but that's just as true of stock horses as any other breed.

Karen said...

Right on Jess!! Lovely and true!!
I have had people call my horses "Monsters". Just because they were allowed to show they're sensitivity. Push button ponies are BORING!!! and you don't learn anything.

Holistic Pet Help - HPH said...

In Hong Kong, 95% of the horses being ridden for pleasure are ex-race horse.

Dave (aka Buckskins Rule) said...

Stereotypes are as rampant in the animal world as they are in the human.

As to the people who don't like your horse...screw em'. The only opinion that matters is yours.