The other day I was watching a friend of mine work her green horse while I was finishing up with my own. I had just hopped off my now 18-year-old and was standing in the middle of the ring watching my friend go through various flatwork exercises, mostly successfully until her horse heard a loud car drive by and did a little scoot and hop. Being the good horsewoman she is, she just kept on going and rolled her eyes.
“He’s doing pretty good except for the occasional silliness,” she said as they trotted by.
I looked at my own horse, still heartbreakingly handsome at 18 with the maturity and talent to match. He’s been my partner for 14 years and I brought him along myself. I remember all his “moments of silliness” fondly now, even if they weren’t so welcome back then. Now that he’s a senior, he very rarely puts a foot out of place and I can appreciate that. But sometimes I long to see those moments of youth in him.
“Not much silliness for us anymore,” I said quietly as we looked at each other.
As riders, we spend so much time taming our horses which is a good thing. The best thing you can do for your horse is to make him as easy to handle and ride as possible. That way, no matter where he goes or whomever he meets, he will always make friends. But horses are alive and they will have moments where they will act like the personalities they are. While those moments can be frustrating, we really owe it to them to be understanding. After all, if horses always acted perfectly, nobody would have any good stories to share!
To those of you with young or green or “difficult” horses, embrace the occasional silliness. If you have your horse long enough to see him grow old, you’ll wish for more of it.