Do you want a better horse or do you want to be a better rider?

Do you want a better horse or do you want to be a better rider?

Better Horse or Better RiderImagine this .  .  . you are out on a ride with some new friends and you are really enjoying your ride. They are all more experienced with horses than you, and you think you can learn a lot from them. You are happy they are including you in their ride and hope you will be invited again.

As you ride, they show you a few new places to ride including a lovely sandy track where you can all ride along in pairs. Then there is a creek across the track and their horses all happily walk through, splashing and playing.

You look in horror! Your horse hates water!
What runs through your mind?

Or what about this scenario . . . you are at a dressage competition that you know you should do well at. Your horse has either had a win or a place each time you have attended competitions at these groundsin the past.

You find out that a National level judge has been invited and everyone is very excited to have him at this event. As you ride your dressage test, your horse goes well and you are pleased with him.

Then you look at the scores and you realize you are almost in last place! You pick up your dressage test and check the scores to find them correct!

You haveone of the lowest scores in your class!

What runs through your mind?

If your first thought in either of the above situations is to look for another horse, you are reflecting your attitude and level of knowledge.

On the other hand, if you are grateful that you are out riding with an experienced group of riders when you have a problem or grateful that you have the input of such an experienced, educated judge who can help you improve then this is also a reflection your attitude and level of knowledge.

Why don’t you listen to others to find out more about their attitude and level of knowledge? However, be careful about the conversation you have with them.  The conversation you have with yourself is just as important.

When you hear someone wish for a better horse, is it because they need to be a better rider?



  1. This is so true. In my belief you should get a horse that hasn’t been trained yet so you can train it your way and both you and your horse can grow together and teach each other. You shouldn’t ever “wish” for another horse just because you didn’t get the scores you wanted or because your horse didn’t like water. You shuld always want to be a better rider! Not just want a better horse!

  2. michaela piper says:

    a great rider can ride anything and have attachments but a bad rider on a great horse will only ruin the horse again a great rider will be able to see the faults in there self a bad rider will blame the horse for their mistakes.

  3. I think at the end of the day all you can and all you really do need to do is practice and observe other riders. Take feedback from the test and work with it.

  4. As soon as you go to your horse, you are teaching them something. You need to make sure that the something that they have learned is the desired behaviour. For example, the other day I was riding my mare over some jumps. She’s not a jumper, but getting better at it. But, she knocked the poles over. So, I got off and put them back up. This repeated a few times until I stopped getting off of her each time she knocked the jump. When she knocked it, she would work a few laps around the arena before I gave her a rest and put the pole back up. I had been teaching her that knocking the pole was the behaviour that I wanted, because when I got off, that was her reward. Now she jumps fine and I’m really happy with her progress. However, if you have a novice rider with a very highly strung horse, it would be better to either find them an easier horse or reteach the horse, as most of the time it is the rider’s fault.

  5. I am always looking to find better ways to improve my horse skills and horse riding. I have learnt that a proper horseman or horsewoman knows the signs that your horse is giving you and you know straight away when to stop and look for a different way to approach the situation.

  6. Charm Weston says:

    Very helpful and interesting.

  7. Georgie Kanahs- Tanner says:

    Very good article and well said statement. Highly Agree.

  8. Wendy Foxton says:

    I am not into competition riding regardless of discipline however I do believe there is a horse for everyone, sometimes you do need a horse better suited to the task and sometimes you just simply need to be a better rider. I think there is no one set rule for this, both can be appropriate.

  9. Georgia Bliss says:

    I believe that when this situation arises that you should not be looking for a better horse, if you believe that your going to win a competition then your not practicing or pushing yourself or your horse hard enough to be better, with the water situation there are ways to work with a horse to get them over water. I believe that i can always be a better rider when it comes to doing competitions because no one can ever be the perfect rider and you can never have a horse that wont make mistakes it happens and its apart of learning

  10. This article is very realistic and i can imagine both things happening to me and my horse but i don’t think anyone should be wishing for a ‘better horse’ a horse is as good as you make it. If you work with a horse long enough the horse should respect and love you enough to do ANYTHING! the rider asks.

  11. Aneldi v. Wyk says:

    This article is very realistic. One does not simply need a new horse because the rider makes the horse and the horse makes the rider.
    Often times someones input may not be what you want it to be and may not be what you expected it to be but it is what it is and one should use it to better themselves and strive for better results instead of dwelling on the idea that they need a better horse to be a better rider because that is not the case.
    If your horse hates water you shouldn’t let off negative energy that will effect your horse in a negative way. Instead, one can ask for help and show their horses some motivation encouragement.
    The message that i got from this article is use everything to your advantage to better yourself, whether it is a personal opinion or assistance from a more experienced individual. You never need a new horse.

  12. chloe hutchison says:

    I agree with this statement 🙂

  13. N. Fitzpatrick says:

    Good Read

  14. Matthew says:

    That was a good statement.

  15. Nicole Lunan says:

    Never blame the horse. It always comes down to the rider. It’s funny once our mindset changes, and we take on the responsibility, how much we can learn and grow.

  16. Jodie Coggan says:

    I am a firm believer of what you put out is what you will receive with your horse, sit and attempt to cross the creek as the others did. Your horse might surprise you, after all they are a pack animal. And if your willing to learn I’m sure the people around you would be happy to help.

  17. When ever a situation like this arises I always reflect on myself not the horse as the horse only knows what it knows whether it be what I have or havent taught him or what someone else has or hasn’t taught him. It is never the horses fault no matter what the situation. You either improve yourself or the problem will always be there in one way or another no matter how many horses you buy. So I believe that if you have the good fortune to have friends that are a bit more experienced than you then ask questions and better yourself for your horses benefit, and if you are scored down on a dressage test then ask questions and become better at riding ,training or even learning we never know everything and your horse never stops learning, so we should never stop learning how to be a better partner for our horse.

  18. Having experienced riders with you, will help you through the situation as they have experienced what you are going through. There is no such thing as a better horse, there are only different ways riders handle the horses and situations. Always be open to new adventures with your horse and to put your self in situations that push the boundaries of your learning and experience, but never put yourself in dangerous situations.

  19. I don’t think there is such thing as finding a “better horse”.
    Maybe there is such thing of finding a horse more suitable to your ability but I do believe a rider can always improve on their skills,
    To improve your horse you need to learn how to teach them to get the results you’re looking for.

  20. There needs to be trust between the horse and the rider, and any nervousness shown by the rider will reflect in the horse. If your horse has issues crossing water, is this really the horse or is it something that you have instilled in the horse by your reaction to its behavior?

  21. Firstly the rider has already cast doubt into the situation before any problem has come up, horses are sensitive and can read the riders moods, apprehensions and nervousness. I wouldn’t be finding a way around the water as that would only enhance the problem. There is no shame and getting off your horse and using groundwork techniques to overcome problems on the trail. Teach your horse that you are a good, trustworthy leader and you wouldn’t put it in situations that would cause harm.

  22. Breanan Hollis says:

    I find that I am always learning new and better ways of achieving different skills and that it is to my advantage to listen, take note and try new advise if it is relevant to what i am doing with my horse. A rider should not be giving up on a horse when it is clearly the rider that needs the skills first and then teach the horse those skills learned by the rider. Trust is also a big key here. The horse must trust the rider to take it into new situations calmly and confidently to assure the horse.

  23. Jade Nicholls says:

    I have always seen myself as the one that needs improving and having a low score will not make me doubt my horses or the horses I am working with, it will make me want to improve my own skills and help my horse to work through anything that may be an issue to him/her.

  24. Not the horses fault, rider didn’t prepare well enough to handle the situation it was placed in.

  25. Sarah L says:

    good 🙂

  26. Attitude is a big part of working with horses and I believe it’s important to be positive, open-minded and the willingness to be patient (especially to see results!).

  27. it is never the horses fault the rider should look within themselves to make sure they are doing everything correctly before blaming the horse!

  28. Aliesha says:

    the first part sounds a bit like me because I am not a very experienced rider and everyone in the course.

  29. Samantha Monaco says:

    The horse shouldn’t be to blame – if the horse is unsure or insecure, it is the rider’s job to encourage them. There should be a bond of trust between horse and rider.

  30. serena stanley says:

    yes definitely 95% of the time in situations it is the riders fault. Although there are times when horses may not be suited to a particular discipline and you could have ‘a better horse’, it is the riders requirement to train that horse to be good at something. So yes when a rider says they want a better horse they need to become a better rider and then they’ll have a better horse.

  31. I don’t think the horse is to blame I believe horse and rider should trust and respect each other when out riding together.

  32. Taylah W says:

    I believe that it is the rider and not the horse, the horse and rider need to trust each other and just work through it together as they are a team.

  33. samantha m says:

    good read. as a rider myself i always tuck my shirt in and never even thought about what could happen.

  34. Winona L. says:

    I believe that it is the rider, and not the horse. With the water situation, i believe if you play with the horse and introduce water gradually it would be in best interest.
    Also, talking to other owners about how they handle their horses around water, theres no harm in asking for advice.

  35. Yes i can deffinetly relate to this though i am Yet to be invited out with friends on my horse i know i deffinetly would be worried with my horse and water as she’s only ever been near water once and i’m not sure what her reaction would be being ridden through water. I’d just have to test her out and do it i guess..

  36. Sharni Neisler says:

    I have heard people say ‘I need a better horse, so I can do something else’ but a horse can be educated. The amount experience the rider has does have can impact the horse. I know from personal experience that a horse can lean new things it just takes time, but you have to know what your trying to teach them. It is always good to get another persons opinion because it helps improve your way of riding and you never know, that could be the one thing that changes the horse as well.

  37. It really depends on the riders experience and the horses experience. The rider could be a well experienced and well taught rider and the horse could be new at what is expected. The rider could have the wrong horse for the job because not all horses can do certain things to a great extent. But if the horse is eally experienced then the rider could be a beginner or new at it as well. Therefore it depends on the horse or the rider.

  38. all in all i agree with the above article. and iv always seen myself as the one that needs improving and a bad score will not make me doubt my horses. i will reflect back on the score and see what i could have done better to help my horse improve the score. also blaming your horse and getting another more experience and trained horse would end just as bad if you are not being trained for that level of horse and it will eventually go down to your level of riding. improving yourself helps your horse a lot more then most people think its the rider that makes a good horse preform

  39. Wendy F. says:

    I hear this all too often ‘ I need a better horse, this one doesn’t know anything’. horse education can be improved, as can rider education. More often than not it is the rider who needs more experience and education, then the horse can be educated by the rider.

  40. You know what, I’m very much inclined to agree.

  41. Helga Riedemann says:

    I believe that it is always the rider not the horse, so in the water situation I would take my time to show my horse the water calmly and even ask one of the more experienced riders if they would mind to slowly go ahead so that my horse can see that it is ok. Getting some tips from the group would also be helpful.
    The dressage test I would take home and work on the critic with my instructor to become a better rider.

  42. GeorgiaS says:

    desensitizing your horse to water would be my goal if my mare was fearful of water, improving your knowledge and your horse is the best thing about having a horse. the constant learning and new challenge.

  43. good!:)

  44. Yeah, I started using the grid for cmoimssions to get my outlines just right then got out of the habit of drawing freehand! I really should get back into the habit though! I’ve always used Derwents I think because they were readily available and I got on well with them. I like the Onyx pencils coz they create lovely deep darks, but also light shades so i can be lazy and do a whole drawing with 1 pencil!! I must try Faber castell Ebony I’ve just started using their polychromos coloured pencils and really like them.

  45. I think that if you have a horse that hates water or is scared of it you should tell the others and find a new way round or jump it if you have enough experience to do so.

  46. Steph Toms says:

    I think this depends on the individuals. If the rider is novice then a good reliable horse/pony is probably more practical then learning to control a green horse.
    If the rider is more experienced then learning to handle different situations is probably preferable to giving up on your horse to find another.


  48. Every time you work/play with your horse you have an opportunity to learn new things or improve ways of achieving a goal. Gaining advice from others is valuable as long as you can sift through their information and choose the right approach for you and your horse.
    Your job as a rider / horse owner/ lover is to make what ever horse you own/ train/ love the BEST horse he/she can be. This journey needs to be taken together at a slow and steady goal setting pace. Sometime you may require outside help of a trainer/ coach but your should still be there every step of the process, so once at home you have the skills to duplicate the process just in case your horse takes a backward step.
    I believe every horse has the potential to achieve almost anything you desire ( limited of course by injury or confirmation) Its about hard work and dedication, seeking the right help when needed and setting small goals to begin with, allow enough time to let the horse set the pace and make sure your horse has lots of little wins to build his confidence and your own. Every goal is obtainable and my thought is every day brings new challenges that I like to meet head on whether it is riding or training . I encourage myself and my horse to be open to new things and always make a 3% improvement each time we work on a new goal. Selling a horse or placing him in the too hard basket because my ego or pride is hurt is not very constructive and each horse will always have something that needs improving just like I myself do.

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