I was at a horse show, recently, and overheard someone complaining that their horse had “turned into a jerk,” once they went into the ring. The people listening laughed and commiserated with the rider, and I think one of them even scolded the horse in a teasing fashion.

Now, bear with me, here. The rider was being relatively light-hearted, and she certainly didn’t mistreat her horse in any way, at least not that I saw. We’ve all had bad rides, and we’re entitled to complain, aren’t we?

The complaining isn’t the problem. It’s the mindset that’s the problem. Even if it’s said in jest, a statement like this is a bit concerning.

Of course, there are many riders out there who rally behind the flag of The Horse, reminding all of us that horses don’t have to do any of the things we request of them, that we should thank The Horse for being so willing and forgiving, and that we should always look to ourselves before blaming The Horse for (in our eyes) unwanted behaviour.

The problem is that I keep running into riders that repeat this mantra, yet turn around and label horses as jerks, failing to take responsibility when things go wrong during a ride.

There are many reasons why this happens. One of the major ones is probably a chain reaction, where this sort of blaming mentality is passed down from a trainer to a student, who then becomes a trainer, and passes it along to their students, and so on and so on.

I think the root of the problem runs much deeper than that. I think there’s an obvious lack of accountability in society today – all you have to do is open Facebook and you’ll see a tidal wave of posts blaming others for problems, yet how often do you see someone take responsibility for their own actions, via social media? My guess is never.

Workplace problems are blamed on bosses and coworkers, marital stress is blamed on the other partner, canine behaviour problems are blamed on the dog (this is a sneaky one, but isn’t it remarkable how so many dogs out there today are “rescues” that were “abused” and this excuse is used to cover every issue from aggression to inappropriate urination?). The list goes on and on, but it’s a slow waltz to a melody of pointed fingers.

Knock this shit off. Grow up, acknowledge your faults and shortcomings as a rider, as a friend, as a lover, as an employee. And then DO something about them.

Your horse – and the people in your life – will thank you.


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