The Weird Shit You Have to Defend on Social Media

I’ve been blogging for… almost 7 years now (JFC time flies). I like it, it’s fun for me, writing is cathartic, and I’ve met a lot of great people and had a lot of opportunities because of it. The only real downside, to me, (okay aside from the fact that it’s time consuming) is that making yourself “public” opens you up to a lot of criticism. Unfortunately the reality is that you have to have a bit of a thick skin to blog and/or have an active social media presence – when you choose to put yourself out there, people are guaranteed to have opinions.

All things considered, I feel like I’ve probably taken less heat than a lot of other bloggers, but I haven’t avoided it completely. Every now and then people just can’t help but to criticize the way you ride, or the choices you make, or, ya know… there was that whole ML debacle that I may or may not have started (my bad). For the most part I really don’t have a problem taking the heat. There will always be the ones who are just haters in general, and whatever, ain’t nobody got time for that. Of all the things I’ve taken criticism for over the years, none of it has really bothered me all that much, except for one thing: when I hand the reins of one of my horses over to someone who is a better and more experienced rider than I am and people want to judge me for it. God that really grinds my gears.

Someone is going to have to explain it to me because I legit don’t understand. When I had my trainer ride Henry at his first couple Training events because I had a little bit of trepidation about the move-up, the criticism was… confounding. I wrote about it then, and about the importance of the trainer ride for me personally when it came to helping me and my horse feel more confident. And hey guess what, it worked out pretty well because when I did my first T on him it was a seamless move-up, my horse was super confident and so was I, and we went on to have good success at the level. And now that I’ve handed Presto’s reins over to a pro for a little while, here we go again: I’m getting some of the same kind of comments. “Glad he’s doing well but sad that you aren’t riding him!” or “I would have a hard time putting so much time and effort into a horse and then handing the ride to someone else.”. Ya know… various passing comments (mainly in Instagram DM’s, why is that everyone’s dickplace of choice?) where basically people are saying that I bred the horse and raised the horse and put the first year of work into him, why in the world would I hand him over to someone else now?

It’s weird to me that I even have to explain this to anyone, but I guess there may have been a time in my younger years when I would have thought the same way. Back before I knew better, back when I was ruled more by pride and ego than by what was overall best for the horse. And for sure, I spent a lot of time not really being able to afford the luxury of pro training, so I get that as well. But the benefit of hindsight also allows me to look back on various horses and think “someone else really could have helped that horse understand xyz thing better than I did” or “we may not have had that big problem with x if I’d gotten help with it earlier”, especially the really green ones (which were almost all of them). There’s nothing quite like getting a few years down the road and realizing that your horse is full of gaping holes that you yourself helped install. I have never in my life regretted getting some pro rides put on some of my horses, but I can sure as hell think of many many many occasions where asking for help (or asking for help sooner) would have benefitted both myself and the horse in the long run.

I’m a big proponent of high quality early education for young horses especially. The things they learn in the beginning are the things they spend their whole life referring back to, and it’s SO MUCH EASIER to have it done well from the start than to go back and try to undo and redo things over and over again. Like, um… Henry for example. I don’t know exactly what the heck happened to him before age 7, only that he was “fried”, but I do know that he will forever be a tense tight horse that’s mistrustful of contact.

And when it comes to Presto, the entire reason I wanted to invest in a pro ride at this stage in his career is exactly BECAUSE of all the reasons these people are mentioning in their comments. They’re right, I DO have a lot of time, energy, work, blood, sweat, tears (so many tears), and money (so much money) invested in this horse already. And he’s a nice horse – so far he’s everything that I had in mind when I picked the stallion and the mare. You know what I want more than anything in the world? To do the absolute best I can by him and set him up as best I can for our future. Right now for me that means handing the reins to someone else, someone better than me, and letting him learn from her. Could I keep him here and ride him myself? Sure. But I have the luxury of being able to afford to do him one better, so why not take advantage of that?

Of course I’d be lying if I said that a part of me wasn’t a little wistful, watching his videos, mostly because I can’t wait to be the one in the pilot seat doing this stuff with him too. Granted, I’m a grown ass woman with a brain in my head, and I’ve had a shitton of green horses, so I also know that this is the right thing to be doing and it’ll pay off in the end. Our time together will come, but for now the priority is the horse I’m trying to give myself in the future.

What it comes down to for me is this: what good is it to be able to say “I did it all myself” or “No one has ridden him but me” if the end product is subpar, or has big holes in his education? I just don’t understand the appeal of that. He’ll be a more confident, more educated horse in the long run, which will make things easier for both of us. Win-win. So please don’t get at me with the thinly-veiled judgy comments about my choice to hand over the ride to a professional… if you don’t understand the choice now, I think you probably will someday.

30 thoughts on “The Weird Shit You Have to Defend on Social Media

  1. I so wish I’d done this with Coco when she was 4/5. It is such a luxury to even be able to send your horse off to a trainer and it befuddles me people would be critical of your choice.

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  2. You know my feelings on this. PREACH. Don’t have a clue why you’d die on the hill of pride when you could have someone like your pro or my GP trainer start them. I sure as hell don’t want to go through fixing all the crap I’ve created on Connor a second time when I get my next baby.

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  3. Been there. And people say “Oh but you could do it! Why don’t you??” as though it’s a compliment. It isn’t. Even if I could (probably? maybe?) muddle through something, if I have the option for someone with better feel/timing/balance/eye to show the horse the ropes, I’d have to be an egotistical fool not to TAKE THAT OPTION! When my horse was green, he would occasionally take large, deer-like leaps over new things. He was game! He was trying! He did NOT need my ammy ass backing him off by inadvertently bouncing him in the face or the saddle while he figured out what to do with his own body. He needed a quiet, balanced ride that didn’t punish him for the effort–he got that, with a professional. Money very well spent.

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  4. You have got to be F$&@^ing kidding me! You’re an adult who wants the best for her horse. I don’t get it. I genuinely do not understand why you’re taking any sort of criticism for sending Presto to a pro. Seriously, I don’t get it. What’s the problem? You want the best for your horse. Again, I’m failing to see the problem.

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  5. The video and photos from Ocala tell you all you need to know. You are doing the right thing for Presto as you have with every step of his short four years on this earth. Haters will always hate. Love wins every day… You are going to have a magnificent horse in your future!

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  6. Honestly if I could afford to send both of my horses to a pro for a month or so every year I would! I am fully aware of my limitations as a rider, and know that a pro has feel/timing/abilities that I simply don’t possess. My new OTTB was in training for 3 months this winter, and the change in her has been incredible. And I knew we needed that extra help to meet my goals. No lost pride here.

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  7. I’m one who has done almost all of my horse’s training myself, though she’s trained for the trail: not a discipline with “pro” riders. I had some lessons and help from people with more experience than me, but not a “pro”. I’ve had her for 5 years, and taken dressage lessons for most of that time (with a couple breaks here and there due to coaches moving out of town), and we’re just now schooling 1st level. Had I sent her to a pro, yes, she’d be a lot further along, but that wasn’t in my budget (or goals, we do dressage for fun in the winter and really don’t care about moving up the levels).

    This came back to bite me a little in my lesson this week. We were working on making her halts a little more round, and my trainer says, “Alright, sit back a little in your saddle and ask her to round” [in the halt]. My horse immediately takes a step back. I ask again, and she backs again. My trainer says, “Hmm, she’s not usually resistive like that. What are you doing that I can’t see?” I think for a moment and ask again (and get another step back), and I say, “She’s not resisting, she’s doing exactly as I’ve asked. That particular motion is how I’ve taught her to back!” Apparently it’s a more “western” way to teach them, but it’s how I knew so it’s how I taught (and I didn’t ride western long enough to know that’s how they ask…). I quickly figured out what I needed to do to ask her to round in her halt, and she proceeded to do it beautifully.

    I’ve enjoyed the journey training my own horse, and I’m very pleased with the result. She’s a well-trained trail horse. For dressage and jumping, she still has lots of room for improvement. She would have benefitted from a pro riding her (and probably still would), if I had the means. I don’t. But I don’t begrudge anyone else for sending their horses to pros.

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  8. I think this largely stems from two separate mindsets. One is the Disney/Sports Movie = Real Life mindset. If you are Scrappy, Hardworking, and Pure Of Heart, you can Do Anything! You don’t need any outside help or guidance apart from a grizzled has-been who provides wisdom to get you to the top. Obviously, this does not work outside those movies, but some people get really attached to that mindset.

    The other is people who’ve seen or had horses get abused by trainers, and decide that ALL trainers are bad and abusive. Unfortunately, too many (that is, more than zero) are and it leaves scars on those horses and the people connected to them. This is clearly not the case with Meagan and Presto, since he seems happy and willing to work with her. And her style looks gentle but effective.

    I’d file their suggestions in the circular suggestion box and keep being proud of your awesome young horse on his journey.

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    1. I think there are a lot of people who get a big ego hit/sense of pride from “doing everything themselves”. Which is… silly at best, and harmful at worst. Any time a human’s ego or pride comes ahead of what’s best for the horse, no one wins.

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  9. Not that my opinion matters, but I totally think you did the right thing and I plan to do the same with my 2 year old in a couple years. But more importantly, can we get a close up of her facial expression when Presto boings into the water?! Priceless truth awakening oh shit moment right there! Ha!

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  10. If it’s any consolation, I look back at my time with June and think “why didn’t I just send her to a pro for a couple months?” I don’t know that it would have changed things significantly, but it wouldn’t have hurt, that’s for sure. And even with (my) Henry, I had my trainer hop on him for a difficult question we were asking him, and he learned more in those 20 minutes than he would with me for 2 weeks. It made me think that maybe he should spend more time in pro training, and he’s a green adult horse with no issues. I think it’s so good for them to just get a good ride from a pro that gives them so much confidence. So, good on you for doing this with Presto and (your) Henry, and haters gonna hate. I mean, what else are they going to do with their time? Apparently not go ride their horses….

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  11. People can be unbelievably annoying 🙄 I just sent my 3 year old off to get started under saddle. Have I started babies before? Yes. Is starting babies my specialty? No. My 3 yr old is HUGE and athletic. Sending him to a young horse professional felt like the best decision for HIM. If I can afford to send him to someone that can start him on the best possible track, why wouldn’t I? Seems silly not to. Same for my AO jumper. When it was time to move up, I sent him to my trainer to let him take my horse in his first 1.40 m and eventually, 1.50m. While it’s a romantic thought to think we “learned together”, in reality, his first time showing 1.40 m should not also be my first time showing 1.40 m. Does it happen successfully for some people? Sure, but again, if I can afford to have a pro give him a POSITIVE first experience, why not? If you take ego out of the equation, the answers become very simple.

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  12. I used to think I was less than if I needed help. And maybe that’s where these comments come from? I’m not sure. As I age, I really appreciate being able to get help. I agree with you 100% here.
    For me, I have older horses. So if we have a problem that’s just festering, why not nip it in the bud right away instead of picking at it myself? Let someone who’s timing is better, confidence is higher, and probably is also stronger hop on and remind horse how to do whatever it is we’re struggling with.

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  13. You’re actually an inspiration for putting the horse’s best long-term interests first, and bringing in pro-help to pursue that goal. I’m considering that this might be a better start over fences for my own, rather than me staying on as best I can while he bunny hops the early efforts.

    I think some people have an odd emotional approach to horses that isn’t actually consistent with the equine mental landscape. Some people seem to think there is a human-style parent-child connection between horse & owner/rider — but I don’t believe that this is so. Just IMO, that attitude is on my list of social media things to brush off my consciousness.

    Horses are not housepets that live with us 24/7/365 (well yours almost are at this point 😉 ). Their mind is wired to them spending the majority of the day just being horses, without a human right there with them, and without living inside a human habitation.

    Horses are very adaptable to switching people in their landscape, more so than are dogs or people, IMO. I have no doubt that Presto misses you. But it looks as if he is doing just fine.

    Presto has the best owner and the best life situation, that he could possibly have. I think you are making great decisions that will pay off for both you and Presto for all the years of his life. I hope that, through your blog, more people will start thinking “getting pro help is a good option for my green horse”. 🙂

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  14. I do not understand this criticism AT ALL. It’s the same thing that makes people buy untrained green horses instead of trained ones…. when a trained one would be a better choice and a lot more for fun for them.

    I don’t get it. If I could have trained or started over unstarted I would but I sadly don’t have the budget for that. I’m going to have to say those comments are likely coming from a place of envy.

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  15. Even trainers and pros at the TOP levels have help. And young horses especially need to learn that the program is the same no matter who rides them. Does having help make you less of a rider or trainer? NO. I don’t understand these thinly veiled comments either.

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  16. Yeah. That is is really dumbfounding response. Like others have noted, its probably meant as a compliment, or just based on black-beauty Disney horse “Magikal Bond” nonsense. I would LOVE to send my horse to a good pro for 3 months and fill in the holes my riding has caused. Ignore the dum-dums – you are 100% doing the right thing.

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  17. I never once regretted sending Annie for training – it helped bridge the gap for her and I. I know there are several people who raised their brow when I chose to send her, but at the end of the day, they didn’t pay for the training and they don’t ride my horse.

    There is also the other end of the spectrum – people who mock you in the sense of “Well I wish I had the money to send MY horse for fancy training”.

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  18. I wish I’d been in a financial position to have pro-rides on my mare. She has so many holes. It’s my one regret. No judgement here from me.

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  19. The fact that people think that their opinions of what you do with YOUR horse should matter even a tiny bit is ridiculous. You are doing the best for you and your horse. F*&% their opinions.

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  20. Coming from the endurance world…I sent my horse to a pro for training when he was 4. BEST decision ever! The trainer was able to ride him daily and expose him to things I couldn’t/didn’t have access to. End result? The most level headed endurance horse ever! I don’t worry about being bucked off at the start of a race, or my horse freaking out when someone passes him, he stands like a perfect gentleman at the vet checks and trots out in hand without hesitation. Like you, I started all the groundwork when he was young, but I wanted him to have the best chance at being a brave and confident adult. That was some of the best money I have ever spent! Kudos to you for making the decision that sets your sweet boy up for success! Jealous people often say ugly things. Ignore them…you and Presto are going far 🙂

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  21. I mean … even lesson horses benefit from being ridden by the trainer now and again. Likewise, as a student, I think I’d benefit after the school pony has had a newbie break. “Mine” recently had a very passive rider the day before me, and it was almost like riding a different horse – he wanted to see how lazy and drifty he could be with me, whereas usually he’s quite responsive. I’m sure if I hopped on a day after ‘Mom’ rode him, he’d be a dream (he’s already a very good boy). Why wouldn’t you send a young competition horse to an expert if you could?

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  22. People tend to see things through their own “lens”, it is easy to sound judgemental, and others just like to judge. Sorting the two out must be exhausting, tho I guess sorting out doesnt have to be done. I think sometimes people just do not understand how hurtful words are, esp when they are typed and not in an actual conversation, where facial expressions help clarify. (and to add, some people are just jealous, miserable sobs…..) That being said, you are a grown woman, take your horses seriously, care for them well, and other than providing us with some slight envy, who’s business is it? Don’t let “them” make you feel judged.

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  23. You don’t need to hear this, but trust your judgment! You know your horse best.
    I heard second hand criticism when I let my trainer use my horse for lessons and when I part leased him. As a result of those choices, I had a horse that was very fit and confident, & he had a fan club so got lots of extra love and attention. He was a steady eddy because he had exposure to a variety of experiences, and I didn’t have to worry that he was bored or not getting to stretch his legs when I had to work late.

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