People have their “once in a lifetime” horse and often talk about them being perfect.
But are any horses perfect?
Of course not; in just the same way that no human is perfect. But when looking to buying a horse, it’s so important to not be too idealistic and discard your rose tinted glasses; to know what faults you can work with and what quirks you can overlook, and prioritise the characteristics you want.
I finally have some evidence to back my point up, albeit it is rather weak, but you never know – I may get some better footage later in the year.
I often talk about Otis, and I’m sure he’s my once in a lifetime horse, and he has accumulated a huge fan base over the years.
After all, he’s handsome, easy to handle on the ground and stands to be clipped, dentist, farrier, vet, anything and everything. He’s easy to lunge, very trainable on the flat, jumps the moon, is bold out cross country, hacks alone.
And here we meet his quirk. You see, if I ever wanted to hunt Otis I’d need to be suicidal. He hacks alone, and in pairs, but when numbers grow beyond three he gets over excited. I usually lead hacks, and it’s for a very good reason. If another horse so much as gets a nose in front of Otis, he will coil up like a spring, leap forward in the air, kick out with his hind legs and capriole forwards (I wonder if the Spanish Riding School will accept him with this manoeuvre?) until he is back in front, where he will fall back into a relaxed walk, as if nothing has happened. This is fine on the odd occasion, but can you imagine going on a sponsored ride or a hunt and doing this each time someone passes you?
Likewise, when we reach a large field, Otis will coil up and jump into the air into canter. There’s no way to walk through a field with him without doing an impression of Zebedee unfortunately.
So what does this mean for me? Well luckily I don’t want to go hunting so that problem won’t occur, but I am restricted in the fact I can’t hack with many people or go on sponsored rides, which is limiting when trying to get him fit. Knowing Otis’s tendency to give large bucks when hacking means that I can’t offer him to friends to ride out, as I would feel so guilty if they were unseated, and his cavorts are big enough to dislodge many riders, especially if not expected.
Here is a clip from today’s quiet ride, mostly roads with no fields, and only 3 horses. This leap is on the small side, so imagine the height of his hind legs when he’s excited and does a capriole – See here
Does it mean I want to sell him and find another horse? Of course not, because he ticks nine out of ten of my boxes. I’m not naive enough to think a perfect horse exists and I’d rather spend time working with what we’ve got, building our relationship, improving schooling, competing in areas that we can; than spending months or years searching for that elusive horse, that is quite frankly, rarer than unicorn s**t.