Is the joy of pony riding corrupted by training? At various places and numerous times, I have heard this question being posed by different folks in different languages. Just lately, I was asked this particular question for the nth time and it’s been caroming around my skull since then. I have worried over this question for a long time now, and recently I made up my mind that it was time I surrendered everything else and tried to get an answer to this question.
It might not give the impression of being the brightest of questions, most especially to kids dreaming about becoming pro pony trainers. Yet, the simple truth is that horse trainers often run into contrary-minded and very tough horses which will test them hard. It is a part of the drawbacks of the job. No horse is so perfect that it can’t do with some training, and some horses are trickier than the others. Some horses can be absolute disasters.
Lots of pony owners make the error of assuming that horse trainers are voodoo doctors, that they can cast spells on horses that make the horses faultless trial mounts inside a few days. Horse owners accept that horses under trainers’ spells will stay that way as long as they live. These people have high hopes of their horses and their trainers. They don’t realize the damage their earlier cosseting and pampering of the horses have caused. They have spoilt their horses mad, and the horses demonstrate each type of vice you can think of. The horse owners expect trainers to undo all these negative habits and convert their horses into obedient angels. I lost count of the amount of times I have reminded people that a human needs 2000 repetitions of a habit-breaking process to literally break it, another 2000 repetitions of a habit forming process to develop a new habit and eventually about 10,000 correct repetitions more to turn the new habit into unconscious behavior. Next time your horse stamps on your feet or sends you sprawling because he wasn’t looking where he was going, think about this: isn’t it time to rush him off to do about a thousand repetitions of this and that?
Here is where all this is leading up to: the owner of a very difficult pony expects a new coach to convert that pony into a saint in a few moments. If the coach is wise and honest, he’s going to tell the owner what is reasonable and what’s not. If the coach is not so wise or honest, he’ll take up the assignment and find himself losing by attempting to take a pony to the water and make it drink. His efforts to make the pony show fast results will virtually surely make the scenario worse. The pony is going to go even more negative.
It’s time to return to the question that was the 1st sentence of this piece of writing. The answer’s obvious: when a pony trainer is continually wasting his time with horses that are adamant on not being taught anything, he is sooner or later about to lose his desire to be around these animals. He is going to feel the debilitating drain that his task has become on his physical and mental well being.
A few years back, an amicable coach gave me a piece of sound advice that I will always remember in this life. He told me “Only when you are fresh and have not been messing around with unruly horses through the day should you ride your own horse.” That way, you’ll enjoy riding your pony, and you won’t penalise him out of the disappointment and anger the other horses caused in you. I have followed that advice faithfully, and intend to continue doing that.
You know the answer: yes, a coach can get fatally turned off horses, even his own loved ones, if he is having a tough time with difficult horses that he is making an attempt to train. Unless the tutor has large willpower and also takes time off to ride his very own horses and communicate with them, he is going to go from bad to worse. If a coach under stress relaxes himself once in a while and comes back with charged batteries to his work.