1.8.13

Finding the right horse for you

Eurodressage published a really interesting article about find the right horse for you (which you can read about here!)

There were several very interesting quotes, and the idea that certain horses do better with certain genders. 

"Earning the trust and respect of your horse is paramount in creating a dressage partnership and a horse will know if his rider has the talent and belief in him, to go all the way."

“The horse is the best judge of a good rider, not the spectator. If the horse has a high opinion of the rider, he will let himself be guided, if not, he will resist”

I've come across many people who believe that a big powerful gelding does better with a male rider than a female rider. Even both Rama and Vallu could be considered to be better off with a male rider. I've had plenty of conversations about me riding Vallu, and many questions go along the lines of "isn't he a bit big for you?" and "wouldn't he do better with a male rider?" Even though at first I might have taken offense, I can see why people say this.
Vallu looks huge in this picture, and he is big, 17.3/18hh and muscly and big-boned. Luckily I'm not the skinniest of girls, and I have strong core muscles which means that Vallu does sometimes have to listen to me. But the only way that we can have a good ride is if Vallu respects me and my aids, even if there is a small(ish) female rider on board. There are days when I struggle, holding back a huge 800kg galloping ball of muscle isn't the easiest thing, and I can see how a big, tall, male rider could manage to control him better in those types of situations. 

But to answer the question "wouldn't he do better with a male rider?" I would honestly say no. I don't agree that there are horses that are a man's or a woman's horse, even though I've met many people who think so. Maybe some horses do better with one gender, but that horse should work equally well for either gender. Like I read somewhere, if you need more gadgets to control a horse, you are not doing it right. 

Yet when you take Vallu's temperament into consideration, I believe that Vallu wouldn't be truly happy with a male rider. Vallu has one of the most difficult temperaments that I have ever come across in a horse. He is prideful yet easily scared, humble yet somedays he has a stallion like ego which could easily fill the entire indoor arena, but also kind and loving. On the days when he acts like a giant pain in the behind, I wish I was a man, but on the days where he spooks at everything, is nervous and jumpy, then the worst thing that you can do is to put a male rider on, because it ends in a total catastrophe (it's been tried and tested and really doesn't work.) I totally agree with the author of the article, who says that because of past experiences, a horse may prefer the often softer and more intimate relationship it can have with a female rider, and I think Vallu does because he is a big softie that loves kisses.

With some horses, you can 'click' with them straight away. And I clicked with Vallu immediately. I loved how big moving and fancy and intelligent Vallu was from the first minute that I sat on him in Germany in 2011. But I also had a double bridle on with draw reins! This was not good, and I hated the fact that I had to have them on. I was even embarrassed because I don't agree with using a strong bit and lots of reins in order to stay on. But... Vallu was so spooky and untrusting that Henri thought that it wasn't safe for me to ride him without them and to this day I have to honestly say that I still agree with him. I can now ride him in a single bridle with no problem at all! But it has taken me over a year of lots of work, blood, sweat and tears to get Vallu to trust and respect me, so I believe that if I had been riding him that day in a single bridle, he could and would have dumped me on the floor in less than a second. The difference between the horse then and Vallu now, is immense, but my point is that even if you do 'click' with a horse straight away, it doesn't mean that all will be okay and easy going (an illusion that I lived under for far too long with Vallu.) 

"A talented horse can come into your life and share a piece of its journey with you but unless your personalities match, the horse will know, and the greatest strength a rider can have is the humility to say: “this horse is a super horse but it's not my super horse.” " Everyday I thank the stars that my mother was able to be as strong as she is, and say that this is a super horse, but it's not my super horse. If she hadn't done this, I might have never gotten the chance to ride Vallu, who is definitely my super horse.



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