A horse that can’t jump or compete at the level that it used to to is also worthy of the same love and respect as a horse that can.
It’s a saddening sight, horses for sale labeled as “meat.” Although an ad like that is most likely to be seen in less developed countries, the idea of ‘using the horse and then getting rid of it’ is still very much real no matter where you live. What is causing this mindset to be so prevalent? Professionals with the wrong mindset.
Young people are starting to adopt this mindset thanks to the professionals, turning it into a vicious cycle. We have more and more young children calling their ponies derogatory terms and young riders being rude with their aids to the horses on course. We have lesson kids coming in and leaving the horse ungroomed. And we have grooms that will leave cigarettes in the horses straws. Beyond that, we have increased wear and tear on the horse, to the point where the horse can no longer walk normally. It is at this point that the horse is usually deemed “useless.”
In the professional sports world, some have this idea of “ambition over life,” pushing the horse to its limits without correct preparation, and then forgetting about the horse once they can no longer pull the rider’s desired height. So what can we do to make sure that this attitude stops becoming more prevalent? Watch your own actions/words (especially when you are angry, irritated, or just in a rush). Recognize that there will be days when your horse won’t feel completely one hundred percent, and even days when maybe what seemed easy before will feel difficulty. With that in mind, think about why you love your horse. Do you love your horse because he took you into the new division? Would you love your horse if he could not longer compete at the same level that he used to/not be able to be ridden at all?
With those things in mind, take a moment to reflect on the reason you have your horse. It is good to have big ambitions and dreams but your horse may not have the physical capabilities or even the desire to take you there. It is good to be able to recognize that and give the horse a good life nonetheless (whether that be in your own care or in the care of someone who is a horse lover as well). Horses do so much for us, without them we as equestrians would be nowhere, so remember to always repay with your own love and care.