During my lifetime, and I was born in 1949, I have had the opportunity to see horse riding go from a sport for the elite to a sport for the masses. Sadly, now it seems it's once more becoming something only the wealthy can afford.
Main Story Art 2When I was a child, just about any city kid could afford to go rent a horse once in awhile, and most rural kids still had access to somebody's horse to ride. We had Saturday morning Westerns and cowboy heroes. I grew up in Los Angeles County, and when I was a child, we still occasionally saw horses pulling plows on small plots of land.
Nowadays, there aren't too many horse-crazy kids. That's depressing. And to me, most depressing of all is the very limited access people have to horses and horseback riding. If they do want to be involved, they have limited access to affordable professional assistance in learning to ride and owning and training horses. It's just darned expensive.
So what to do? If you want to be involved with horses, get the best education you can about them. That means learning what you need to know to make choices - about videos, trainers, clinicians, boarding stables management, home stable management - even vets. How do you do that? Watch the guys at the top. Look at our Olympic riders, our winners in the big competitions. Read what they have to say, and read what is said about them. Get to know websites like TheHorse.com. Only then are you able to start making judgements about what will and will not work for YOU.
In spite of your desire to find the "right" person to help you, sometimes we just go down the wrong path. Trainers with the gift of gab may or may not have the gift of horsemanship, and if you are new to this world, it's hard to know who and what to believe. Sometimes you make bad choices. It happens, and it's part of how we learn about the business of horses. Because make no mistake, most if not all peole involved in horses professionally are in it to make money, and it is how they pay their bills. It's no sin to be paid for doing what you love. But it is a sin to take people's money when you don't know what you are doing.
That said, you may not always have to pay full bore. In addition to paying for clinics and lessons, many trainers just helped me through the years (in spite of my lack of funds), mainly for two reasons: First, I was always game to ride and learn. I found out a long time ago that if you want to ride, you need to work at it and not make excuses for why things aren't going well. Second, I've always had a good eye for horses, and I've managed to come to the party with some talented ones. For that reason, I met people who wanted to give me a helping hand with my education from time to time. Bring the right attitude and horse to the table, and it can open doors. At this point in life, I'm happy to have an opportunity to pay it forward.
Getting educated about horses is the hardest and most rewarding thing you will do in the world of equines. It's psychology, biomechanics, science, athletics, art and craft all rolled up into one, big amazing bundle. Good horsemen say you never stop learning. How true.