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Discouraged and confused with my Dream Horse

Hi there,

I am REALLY desperately in need of some answers...I am feeling discouraged and confused. As an aspiring equestrian for 12+ years, I was just recently gifted a small budget to find myself a fabulous horse to take me competitive again. I found my dream horse in a large package if I can say that... a 7yr old 16.1hh Swiss Warmblood mare. The catch? She isn't started and barely handled.

As a firm believer in 'natural horsemanship', relationships and consistency, I figured it would be time consuming but I was willing to take my chances on the old saying "they're stuck in their ways after 4". I am a big believer that any horse is "start-able" as long as they are given a solid foundation to trust us (humans). She was trailered to me fine, she came off the trailer fine, first time we caught her she was fine... touchy but she was ok. Now? HA! You can't get any where near her and she most definitely cannot be caught. We have since round penned her and yet such luck. She has been in professional training under a Chris Irwin Gold Certified trainer and she still, after 2 weeks, cannot be caught nor touched.

I am really stuck. I've got a FABULOUS horse on my hands, without the 5 days a week myself to do it on my own (this is why I sent her away), and I seemingly have a horse I cannot touch or get near... should I be concerned that after two weeks the trainer I can't even get a halter on and off of her and even lead her around... or perhaps am I being impatient? I suppose I am looking for some re-assureances. Please help... I want to help my horse...and I need answers :( I hope I hear back!!!

Thanks so much. Natasha

Hi Natasha,

Well, personally, I don't think any certification means a trainer is a really good trainer. I have seen many 'ceritified' trainers only push horses around a round pen, scaring the poop out of them. Slow, gentle, one-step-at-a-time, precise, patient, skillful, good leadership and not dominence, hefty knowledge of the mind and psychology of the horse and years and years of experience, are some of the things that need to be in place when trying to train horses successfully. Probably it is not your horse, but rather the humans with it and interacting with it.

Did you watch the training at all? If you did not, shame on you. Sounds like you made an 'emotional buy' as this was an unstarted 7-year-old. I wonder why the horse was unstarted at that rather advanced age? Chances are there were other issues and major gaps and lapses in the horse's training you are not aware of as well. Additionally, while you might have expected a little progress in handling after two weeks, that is not nearly enough to do anything much training wise. We humans want things much too much and much too fast.

I think it is reasonable you consider a mis-match here. It takes five + years of consistently solid training & schooling to bring a horse into its potential as a riding or competition horse. Do you have that much time and money to invest into this horse? Or, would you rather have a really beautiful horse you can get on and ride or jump or whatever right now? I suggest you let go of your emotional decision making for a bit of time and really look at the realities of your life and situation. There are a lot of great horses needing good homes. In these economic times there is a glut of horses on the market. I think your decision was not in your own best interest or that of the horse's. I am not pandering to you obviously. I am offering what I think is good advise for the realities of your situaiton. Unless you have unlimited funds and unlimited time, I suggest you re-evaluate your situation.

Sincerly yours, Franklin

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