The past couple of years I have had the pleasure of having one solid horse and the rest have been colts. Thank goodness for that solid horse that allowed me to keep somewhat what's left of my sanity. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE riding and training colts. It's what keeps me going but if I never get to jump on those solid horses, I can't keep myself up to snuff and it allows me to breathe and just enjoy the moment. My solid horse right now is one that went through the ranks here as a just started colt to futurity colt to now my solid #1 horse.
Now, what do I classify as a solid horse? Well, for me it is one that I can spend most of my time riding to get in shape. There is little to no tuning and the pressure is taken off as to if I need to get to the barrel race early and exhibition, see the arena, how many times have I gotten to the barrel patch since the last race, etc. The mare that I have now is definitely one that I know will show up to work as long as I've gotten her in shape. It doesn't matter if I get there too early before hand to see the arena and she allows me to spend more time on my futurity colt that does need those things. She allows me to breathe.
However, I have found that although we clock, there are still mistakes being made. We are not at our full potential and as solid as I thought she was, I'm realizing that she has her holes. In my time on my colts and needing that breather, I've become lenient. I've over looked this or that because well she was further than anything else that I had (and still was pulling checks). I've spent most of my time just riding her and not fine tuning things that are rough around the edges. I settled.
I think about how well we've done despite not being completely tuned up and realize how lucky we are to pull checks despite this. Just think of what could be if we were as tuned up as my colts were? If my colt were to come into a barrel and get stiff, you can bet that I'd be doing something about it. Why don't I hold the same standards to my solid horse? The answer is that I've been lazy. I've taken the easy way out and just went to ride rather than put in the extra effort. Now, don't get me wrong, those solid horses don't need to be tuned and tortured and those quiet rides are great for them, but they need to be tuned enough that they hold the same standards as your colts.
So, my poor, sweet, beautiful mare that thought she had this whole game figured out has come to a world stopping reality check that although she may be "all that", she's not quite "all that and a bag of chips" just yet. No more free passes no more get out of jail free cards. If I expect to be better, then we need to go the extra mile and take the extra effort. In the last few months of working harder and figuring this and that out and just holding her to a higher standard, it's been fun and rewarding to see the changes. Not only has it helped her but it's helped me grow as a horsewoman.
My challenge to you is to not get lazy. Don't settle. It's okay to go out and breathe and enjoy the horse on a nice ride because those horses need that too, but don't forget to put in the work and reach for the stars!