A couple of years ago there was an article in Dressage Today by Cindy Sydnor called “Own a Better Horse.” It created quite an uproar because she said she wished she had taken out a loan to buy a better horse (“better” being a relative term). She proposed that she would have progressed faster as a rider if she had a better moving horse. I happen to agree with her. However, most people were offended, assuming that what she meant was that everyone should sell their beloved QHs and Morgans and go into debt. What I think she meant was that everything is easier with the right tools. For dressage that means if you are really serious about progressing up the levels as quickly as possible, you need a horse that makes it easier. For jumping, you’re not going to get to grand prix any time soon on a horse that trips over his front end. Because horses are expensive (more expensive than I think they should be – but that’s a whole ‘nother post), getting that horse with such high potential may take obtaining a loan or driving a clunker car.
She was not saying that you won’t learn anything on horses with less talent or that you can’t reach your goals, just that it would take longer and more work. A horse not designed for the job at hand takes a lot more conditioning, and a lot more work on the rider’s part. For example, it’s much harder to keep a horse who is built downhill pushing from his hind end as compared to a horse who is built uphill. It just is. The horse needs to be stronger and the rider has to be more diligent in half-halting.
The point of this post is that we all have different goals. And that’s okay, it’s great even. We are pulled in so many directions, from a money perspective, a time perspective, a commitment perspective. It is up to each of us to decide how we want to divide our limited resources. Cindy was willing to go into a little debt, others are not. Some people will forgo having a family to be a working student; others would prefer a comfortable life with horses a causal hobby. As long as we are happy with the choices we make, that’s all that matters.