I’ve been blogging for… almost 7 years now (JFC time flies). I like it, it’s fun for me, writing is cathartic, and I’ve met a lot of great people and had a lot of opportunities because of it. The only real downside, to me, (okay aside from the fact that it’s time consuming) is that making yourself “public” opens you up to a lot of criticism. Unfortunately the reality is that you have to have a bit of a thick skin to blog and/or have an active social media presence – when you choose to put yourself out there, people are guaranteed to have opinions.
All things considered, I feel like I’ve probably taken less heat than a lot of other bloggers, but I haven’t avoided it completely. Every now and then people just can’t help but to criticize the way you ride, or the choices you make, or, ya know… there was that whole ML debacle that I may or may not have started (my bad). For the most part I really don’t have a problem taking the heat. There will always be the ones who are just haters in general, and whatever, ain’t nobody got time for that. Of all the things I’ve taken criticism for over the years, none of it has really bothered me all that much, except for one thing: when I hand the reins of one of my horses over to someone who is a better and more experienced rider than I am and people want to judge me for it. God that really grinds my gears.
Someone is going to have to explain it to me because I legit don’t understand. When I had my trainer ride Henry at his first couple Training events because I had a little bit of trepidation about the move-up, the criticism was… confounding. I wrote about it then, and about the importance of the trainer ride for me personally when it came to helping me and my horse feel more confident. And hey guess what, it worked out pretty well because when I did my first T on him it was a seamless move-up, my horse was super confident and so was I, and we went on to have good success at the level. And now that I’ve handed Presto’s reins over to a pro for a little while, here we go again: I’m getting some of the same kind of comments. “Glad he’s doing well but sad that you aren’t riding him!” or “I would have a hard time putting so much time and effort into a horse and then handing the ride to someone else.”. Ya know… various passing comments (mainly in Instagram DM’s, why is that everyone’s dickplace of choice?) where basically people are saying that I bred the horse and raised the horse and put the first year of work into him, why in the world would I hand him over to someone else now?
It’s weird to me that I even have to explain this to anyone, but I guess there may have been a time in my younger years when I would have thought the same way. Back before I knew better, back when I was ruled more by pride and ego than by what was overall best for the horse. And for sure, I spent a lot of time not really being able to afford the luxury of pro training, so I get that as well. But the benefit of hindsight also allows me to look back on various horses and think “someone else really could have helped that horse understand xyz thing better than I did” or “we may not have had that big problem with x if I’d gotten help with it earlier”, especially the really green ones (which were almost all of them). There’s nothing quite like getting a few years down the road and realizing that your horse is full of gaping holes that you yourself helped install. I have never in my life regretted getting some pro rides put on some of my horses, but I can sure as hell think of many many many occasions where asking for help (or asking for help sooner) would have benefitted both myself and the horse in the long run.
I’m a big proponent of high quality early education for young horses especially. The things they learn in the beginning are the things they spend their whole life referring back to, and it’s SO MUCH EASIER to have it done well from the start than to go back and try to undo and redo things over and over again. Like, um… Henry for example. I don’t know exactly what the heck happened to him before age 7, only that he was “fried”, but I do know that he will forever be a tense tight horse that’s mistrustful of contact.
And when it comes to Presto, the entire reason I wanted to invest in a pro ride at this stage in his career is exactly BECAUSE of all the reasons these people are mentioning in their comments. They’re right, I DO have a lot of time, energy, work, blood, sweat, tears (so many tears), and money (so much money) invested in this horse already. And he’s a nice horse – so far he’s everything that I had in mind when I picked the stallion and the mare. You know what I want more than anything in the world? To do the absolute best I can by him and set him up as best I can for our future. Right now for me that means handing the reins to someone else, someone better than me, and letting him learn from her. Could I keep him here and ride him myself? Sure. But I have the luxury of being able to afford to do him one better, so why not take advantage of that?
Of course I’d be lying if I said that a part of me wasn’t a little wistful, watching his videos, mostly because I can’t wait to be the one in the pilot seat doing this stuff with him too. Granted, I’m a grown ass woman with a brain in my head, and I’ve had a shitton of green horses, so I also know that this is the right thing to be doing and it’ll pay off in the end. Our time together will come, but for now the priority is the horse I’m trying to give myself in the future.
What it comes down to for me is this: what good is it to be able to say “I did it all myself” or “No one has ridden him but me” if the end product is subpar, or has big holes in his education? I just don’t understand the appeal of that. He’ll be a more confident, more educated horse in the long run, which will make things easier for both of us. Win-win. So please don’t get at me with the thinly-veiled judgy comments about my choice to hand over the ride to a professional… if you don’t understand the choice now, I think you probably will someday.