When I was first learning to ride, I honestly was just happy to be around horses. Any horse. Every second I spent near or on a horse was pure joy. I wanted to be there every day, all of the time. I was always happy when I was with a horse. But I was also very serious about it, and determined to learn my way around horses.
I recently read this article, and I agree whole-heartedly that lesson horses are some of the most important horses we will ever ride. A lot of people don’t give them as much credit as they deserve. When I was reading in the very beginning of the article some of the complaints that some riding students gave about the lesson horses they were riding, I was actually a bit surprised. Thinking back, I don’t think I have ever uttered any kind of phrase like that about any horse I learned to ride on, and if I did it was most certainly NOT to my riding instructor or WHILE riding the horse. When I was riding, I was always focusing on what I was doing and trying to improve my riding wherever I could. I was strong-willed and I was convinced I could befriend each one of the lesson horses I got to ride. I was determined to ride them all as well as I could, even if I didn’t realize at the time that I was also learning from each one. I’ve met a lot of devoted riders who feel that way, and I wish all new riders could share that love and respect for the horses they ride.
This is more or less a post for those people learning to ride. Remember to appreciate every horse you ride, because each one is teaching you something and bettering you, even if you don’t realize it at the time. If you find a horse difficult to ride, don’t blame the horse. It’s YOUR job to find out how to ride that particular horse to bring out the best in both of you. You’ll get along better with some horses than others, but that doesn’t make those others bad horses; a good rider learns how to ride all sorts of different types of horses. Don’t let anything discourage you, because even if seems to be taking forever to learn something, and even if it seems like you will never be able to get the horse to do what you’re asking, you will. Sometimes it takes a lot of time and patience, but eventually you will unlock that key to success, and it’s worth it. Believe me, it’s worth it. Just keep a positive attitude, work hard, enjoy your time with any horse even if you don’t particularly like that horse (remember, he’s still teaching you important lessons!), and believe in yourself. And always remember: a perfect horse requires a perfect rider. I wish more people believed in the importance of lesson horses!
Like the author of the article I linked to above, I had a few lesson horses in mind when I wrote this post. I’m choosing to focus on one, an old gray Arabian mare named Day. Whenever I think “lesson horse,” she’s the first that comes to my mind. She was the first horse I ever rode and the sweetest, most gentle horse I’ve ever met. She was the kind of horse you could teach anyone to ride on. She loved attention and being ridden, and she enjoyed having a job to do (even if that job was just zigzagging through pylons at a walk). She wasn’t particularly difficult to ride, but she was old and slow and some students didn’t like that. I only rode Day a couple of times (she was usually the first horse anyone rode, but after a few lessons we would start riding some of the other horses), but I took an instant liking to her and I tried to visit her in her stall every time I went riding so I could say hi. She wasn’t much of a challenge, but she taught me the basics of riding (not to mention the life lessons I’m still learning from her) and I have to give her credit for that. She passed away at the ripe old age of about 32 a couple of years or so after I started riding, but I remember her just as clearly as if I visited her yesterday. <3 The left photo below is Day a couple of weeks before she passed, and the right is me and her about a month after I started riding in fall 2005.