Yes, being a trainer and competitor is one of the most rewarding and amazing careers. And there’s no bigger dream for a horse-crazy kid than to grow up and get paid to do it.
But one thing we understand is the pain of losing a horse. And sometimes, we lose that horse because, financially, there’s no other choice.
And in those moments, we feel every fiber of devastation that the recreational rider or amateur competitor feels. But we don’t always get to act on or show those feelings because we have bills to pay and obligations to every other horse standing in the barn.
Selling a Horse
Frenchmans Jester was the first horse I really had success on—he made my career at a very young age. He was my best friend, my partner. And at the peak of our success, I sold him.
I sold my best friend. I did it so I could build on my career as a trainer and not chase the rodeo trail full-time. That sale helped me, and my now-husband, Justin, built our business so that we could continue to do what we loved for the rest of our lives together.
But it made me feel dirty—like I was selling part of my family for a profit. My mom, who’s trained horses all her life, assured me that the same higher power who looked after me would continue to protect ‘Jester’ and that I was making the right decision. She was right about all of it. Although it hurt, he went on to help another family achieve their dreams, and I got to accomplish so many more goals inside and outside of the arena.
Next came a mare I raised named ‘Stoli.’ She was athletic, gritty, and freakishly fast, but at 5 years old she sustained a career-ending injury.
It took years before I saw the greater plan in that devastating injury. I was in my mid-20s when Stoli got hurt, and I was lucky. Nothing that devastating had ever happened to me before. And Stoli turned out to be an amazing producer.
Things Happen for Reason
Jester taught me how to be both a competitor and a businessman while getting exposure to both the futurity and rodeo worlds. But Stoli raised my bar. I didn’t know what I could be capable of as a rider and trainer until that mare changed things for me. I gained so much confidence in myself. She taught me how to flip the switch from a trainer to an athlete, metaphorically running with my ears pinned, just like she did every time. When she got hurt, she had already done so much for me. She also reinforced what a truly special horse felt like to ride. Stoli helped me out of a rut and boosted my confidence so that I believed in myself again as a trainer. She was exactly what I needed at exactly the right time. I needed horses like Jester and Stoli to prepare me for the next horses that came into my life. We all need horses for different lessons at different points in our lives.
So next time you see a trainer back in the saddle after losing a great horse, or they seem cold when they sell you that animal that they appeared so bonded with, cut them a little slack. We’re all horse-crazy kids that got into this business because we love our horses just as much as the amateur or recreational rider and we all love what we do. But sometimes, we have to trust in the greater plan and trust that the same being who looks after us, has a better plan for them, too, that we cannot control—just like Mom said.
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