From the Editor: Stepping Up

The prospect of upgrading your horse is exciting. It shows that you’re ready for more, you can set new goals, and you can expand your expertise. Riders who like to achieve thrive on that sort of thing. Onward and upward!

But it doesn’t come without uncertainty. My family experienced that earlier this year when shopping for a horse for my oldest son, Leo, age 10. He confidently expressed his readiness to do more in the saddle! To challenge himself and become a better horseman! However, it seemed like the end of each of his confident statements trailed off into uncertainty.

A horse upgrade is exciting and fun—but only if it comes at the right time for the rider.
Jennifer Paulson

Comfort Zones

We’re most comfortable with what we know, whether that’s a horse or a career or a pair of jeans. The thought of moving on to a new situation, while exciting and fulfilling, can make a person uneasy. 

This was especially true for Leo. He spent the first 4 years of his riding life with a reliable, honest, old gelding who was the epitome of a babysitter horse. Leo came to know his horse’s every quirk (he hated the wind) and need (some days were more about stretching the horse’s legs than about riding lessons). To think about riding a younger, more sensitive…MARE…was daunting.

Ready, Set, Ride

Leo pushed past his uncertainties, knowing he was truly ready for a new challenge. He recognized that his new horse, “Minnie,” was the mare to teach him new things. For example, if he thought a senior gelding was quirky, wait until Minnie came into heat!

Leo was ready to step up. His lessons from his first horse were his foundation, but Leo knew he’d moved past what the old guy could give him. He was ready for more, and Minnie was ready to push him to become a better rider.

My youngest son, Joe, hasn’t had the same experience. At age 7, he’s not ready to move out of his comfort zone and misses his reliable old buddy. Bob Avila says in his article starting on page 30, “The right upgrade horse is one you can ride really well.” Joe’s not ready for more horse, so we’re on the hunt for another babysitter type that Joe can ride confidently.

It’s certainly a process, and Bob says it best: “When horses are your hobby, there’s nothing better than a horse you can go have fun on 99 percent of the time.” We want horses to be a fun, learning experience for our family, so it’s well worth the effort to have the kids on horses that are right for them.

In This Issue

Wounds are awful, but they’re part of horse life. What’s worse? When you’re not prepared to care for a cut from the time you find it. Contributing veterinarian Barb Crabbe takes you through the four stages of wound healing and what you should and shouldn’t do for the best chances of recovery.
Find that on page 40.

Trail riding is supposed to be fun and relaxing. But when you’re riding on autopilot, you can build bad habits in your horse that lead him to balking. On page 46, Stacy and Jesse Westfall detail how these problems begin and what to do to avoid them.

Confidence-building isn’t just for those with a new horse, as with Leo and Minnie; we all can use a boost now and then. We offer trainer Nancy Cahill’s “crazy cones” exercise on page 34 to boost your bravado when you need it. (That’s Leo and Minnie in the photos, showing off how far they’ve come in their four months as a pair.)

We look forward to your comments on the issue and encourage you to share what’s going on in your horse life. You can reach me at the email address below.

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