We’ve all known them. They are usually wearing dirty jeans instead of primp riding pants. Muddy work boots instead of shiny tall boots. They have blisters on their hands and probably a few cuts on their arms from offending branches or thorns. Their equipment might be mis-matched and occasionally patched up. And they have an uncanny understanding of their horse.
That’s right, I’m talking about the backyard horse person.
These folks are hardy. They put in a whole lot of work and may not even necessarily ride their horse. They will spend hours upon hours in their back yard and no on has a clue what they are working on. And the cool thing is, these people don’t need the praise. They don’t need the show rings or the ribbons or the complements on a good run. All they care about is time with their horse.
I love backyard horse-folk. I’ve spent many years being one myself. And I can still learn a lot from them. Sure, methods are occasionally hap-hazard or unorthodox, but there are a few key things they do better than the showring folks.
They know their horse.
That’s a bold statement to make — as though I’m implying show riders don’t. That’s not what I mean. I’m talking about the daily grind. The early mornings and late nights every single day. It simply comes down to all of the time they spend being hands-on with their horses’ care. Let’s face it, you can’t spend that much time around an animal and not learn their idiosyncrasies and habits like your own. They know if the coming storm will throw their finicky feeder into a bought of anorexia; or if the 4th of July fireworks are going to bother their typically-bomb-proof steed; or if they drank half a gallon less this evening than usual. It’s just how it is.
They care more about the training outcome than the ribbon
Not that the ribbon isn’t fun. But how many people can work for an extended amount of time without promise of recognition and be content? Mm-hmm, it takes a different kind of fortitude. The simplicity of working on what is applicable for your goal — and not just a riding pattern — is refreshing and rewarding.
Use what you got
In a word: resourcefulness. Like I said, it might be mismatched and patched up, but it’ll get the job done. Hurray for being creative!
There ain’t no crying in horseback riding…
…or is there? You know the term “blood, sweat and tears?” This takes on a new level when you’re working by yourself. No doubt, the fast-track to improvement is to work with someone more experienced than yourself. But a lot of us backyard horse people go through seasons where that isn’t possible for one reason or another. Yet their goal persists, and so do they. Wow, talk about determination.
They tend to be open-minded
Not that there is anything wrong with being focused on a single area — there can be a lot of strength there. But I’ve seen a lot more backyard folks be willing to try new ideas more readily. Sure, some ideas are a little hokey, but some work great.
Ah, I have a lot of respect for horse-folk, backyard and showring alike. I completely believe we can learn from each other, regardless of experience of training level. Most of all, we can enjoy our equine partners together.