We’ve all heard the phrase “easy horses don’t make good riders”, well to a certain extent this is undeniably true. While quiet and cooperative horses are great to first learn on, there is something absolutely necessary about eventually having to work with a difficult horse that will turn you from a casual rider into a dedicated equestrian.
I have watched many beginners of all ages truly blossom from an awkward and usually insecure newbie into a competent and productive rider because of that first difficult horse. The horse that questions your commands, resists your aids, gets distracted easily, bullies their rider around, plays games, and causes their handler to experience and overcome frustration, anger, insecurity, embarrassment and also teaches them to learn to just focus and deal with the hand you’re dealt that day.
The difficult horse will teach you patience, humility, dedication, determination, devotion, a strong work ethic, how to overcome all your emotions and just ride in the moment. The difficult horse will make you physically and mentally tough from hours upon hours of perseverance and the undeniable fact that you HAVE to win the disagreement before you can be done for the day. They will make you sweat, cry, swear, grimace, and eventually, after you have paid your dues, they will make you smile, feel proud of yourself and your abilities, and become truly appreciative of the lessons you have both may have learned for the day.
The difficult horse is not for everyone, the difficult horse is for those riders that have horses in their blood, in their DNA. The casual rider will become frustrated and quit when confronted with the difficult horse. The hardcore equestrian will rise to the challenge and with the right guidance and support, will learn and grow from each new obstacle.
I smile inside every time one of my students gets to the point that they are ready to tackle the “intermediate to advanced” horses and I see them rise to the challenge. I see that look of determination come across their face and I see them dig deeper and try harder than they have ever had to before, and I know in my heart that they are now a true equine addict, not just a passing ship in my stable, but a permanent fixture that I will have the pleasure to see continue to grow and advance, with my help, and on their own, into a strong, independent, capable equestrian.
So when your emotions dare to tempt you to quit, when you are at the end of your physical, mental, and emotional rope with your latest equine challenge, look back on all that you have learned and remember that you wouldn’t be half the rider you are today if this road was an easy one. Appreciate that difficult horse, each one of them that has entered your life has taught you lessons you wouldn’t have learned otherwise. They have made you stronger, smarter, and more capable, so hug that difficult horse and say thank you. Now get back to work!