Sunday 22 April 2012

Back to the drawing board - forget school, forget master... how about 4 legs and a pulse?

Sorry guys, but it was time to revisit the subject of lesson horses.

Now, note that I have changed my terminology here.  Forget the "master" part - let's ditch the "school" part too, because it makes one sound like a pretentious and classical asshole. Or brings to mind "school" horses of my youth that were either young equine FUGMOs destined to a life of kick-pull-kick by their lack of looks and athleticism, or buted up seniors who's owners didn't give them the luxury of retirement, so were instead limping through 4 lessons a night until the day a bullet would end their misery.

What it really boiled down to is that I needed a plain old, garden variety lesson horse.

And really, I have decided after all of these years, if you are just starting out - you really and truly don't NEED an advanced level horse to get rolling. To put this into perspective - think of what an idiot you would seem like if you showed up at Ian Millar's place and said, "Hi Ian.  Yep, I am ready to learn to ride, and hope to show Open Jumper someday.  Now?  No, I don't jump at all yet.  But I think it is important that I take lessons on an Advanced horse."  

Ian would probably tell you (in a much more inspiring way than I will here) that you would shit your pants if you had to ride an advanced level horse over a large fence, even if you physically could.  You will be placed on something sound and sane that can cart your ass around a course of 2' fences.

You are a bit ahead of the motion.  Or maybe getting left behind.  I really don't know what the hell is going on here.

Same deal with dressage.  Initially, you need a nice, easy to ride 1st or 2nd level horse.  A horse that, when asked to go forward into steady contact, does it.  And keeps on doing it without a lot of debate.  If a coach wants to try to pass such a horse off as an "advanced" level horse by using vague terms such as "schooling FEI" and that makes you feel more special, well, knock yourself out.  Even though you are kind of being scammed.  Hey, if you are happy with it, who am I to judge?

I know, I know, people will say I am full of shit - connection is one thing... but how can you possibly learn to feeeel collection unless you experience it?  You need to RIDE it to learn it!

Yah, whatever... however since the vast majority of Adult Ams don't even make it to second level, let alone collection, because of their flapping body parts and total lack of coordination, money, time - wouldn't it be better to just find a nice, steady, easy to ride 1st or 2nd level horse and work on THAT?  Once you have an independent seat and can keep this type of horse on the aids, maybe then it is time to worry about collection.  And by then, you may have developed enough of a relationship with your coach or one of their students that they will let you ride one of their advanced horses now and then to feel what you are working towards.

Hey Curmudgeon... what about the horse you were part-boarding.  Was he still at Muddy View Acres?  Couldn't you just get someone in to teach you on him?

Why yes, what an excellent question.  He was indeed still at Muddy View, and I was riding him regularly.  

In fact, one day while I was surfing the internet looking for lesson horse / dressage coach options, I got to read all about how wonderfully he was doing on, in his new sales ad!  I of course had no idea that he was back up for sale, it was my understanding that now that the owner had a part boarder helping with the bills, and since she loved him to death, she was going to keep him.

But reading the ad - she apparently had him in training with a dressage rider who was teaching him collection and lateral work.  Heeeeyy... wait a second!  That must be me!

Thinking back, I can only imagine how horrific anything I taught this horse must have been, since I had no fucking clue what I was doing - I am 100% confident it was most definitely not  "collection" or anything that one would proudly call "lateral work". (I am mocking my terrible dressage riding, but in fact I had been working him over fences as well, and his jumping was really coming along. So, I did actually add some value to his training).

Nice.  Although I stood by this horse for a few months now (he was part of the reason I put up with Muddy View as long as I did) the owner was now trying to sell him anyways, without even having the courtesy to tell me, and the real kicker - while using the work I had done on him to make him more appealing in her ad.

Welcome to bulletin board cliche #57812, Dressage Curmudgeon...WWYD - Owner of horse I am part boarding is scamming me!

I don't mind helping someone with their horse for free.  Or even to pay a little to ride a fun horse.  But what totally pisses me off is to pay part boarding fees to help someone with their "heart" horse - the love of their life, BFF, a total keeper... when really the ultimate goal is to secretly sell the horse for more money, without the inconvenience of having to pay all of those pesky bills for either upkeep OR a trainer.

I know, I know, horses are expensive, and the owner has the right to sell their horse, I hadn't signed off on supporting them for any particular period...I could have walked away at any time leaving her high and dry... All true.  But somehow finding out about it on was just a little much - I felt like a real sucker.

I will never pay to part board a horse again without a pretty detailed contract outlining what percentage of the sales price I will get should the owner decide to sell the horse during the period I am riding.  Getting this all organized in advanced just makes sense.  And, since we are talking the horse world here, we also know that the contract will ultimately be worth exactly the paper it was printed on when the owner decides to disappear and give me the shaft after they sell their horse.


So long story short - I was done with Mr. X at the end of that month.  Really, the timing all worked out.  Good Bye to all.


  1. Wow, sounds like you've had quite the experience... I'm sorry you got scammed. :-/ I've found so many horse people that are completely untrustworthy, and yet I'm always surprised again when I hear a story like this... I don't know why. Maybe I'm too trusting of people.

  2. The biggest problem with most horses is they are owned by people.


  3. Flabbergasting. I am currently leasing a horse that I KNOW is for sale, paying for his feed, farrier, and vaccinations (owner covers insurance; I keep him at home), and we have a contract for the amount of commission I earn when he sells - which goes up as I show him. Yep, you were totally getting hosed!

  4. I think it is good you are getting out of horses. You have the worst luck with them that I have ever heard anyone have.

    1. Whew, I feel much better now that I have your blessing.

      Look on the bright side..think of how boring the blog would be to read if I were an excellent rider with a hot, funny SO and a perfect horse.


    2. Not sure I would call it bad luck, more a lack of not learning from mistakes and repeating them over and over.....

    3. Hey I have an idea - why don't you go on a major bulletin board and post a rant about what an idiot I am.

      You will get a warm fuzzy feeling as lots of people agree with you about how vile I am... AND... at the same time it will drive up my traffic.

      Win-win baby! Doesn't get better than that!

    4. Is it wrong that it doesn't even sound like bad luck to me? This just sounds like normal horse world just make it funnier :P

    5. Sorry, ranting is not my style, more yours. Just pointing out that you seem to take an awful lot of things at face value without checking into them. Not sure of your age as I haven't read thru the entire blog but that may be part of it.

      Granted you do find some funny pictures to illustrate your points and do have a witty turn of phrase on occasion, to give you your due. But you will have to do your own promotion, sorry about that.