Calling for Compromise

Calling for Compromise

Life is really one big compromise, am I right?  This doesn’t exclude the horse world, but sometimes I think people forget that… myself included.

In every aspect of my little bubble of equestriandom, I compromise.  Some are instinctive and easy, while others are harder to swallow.  The most prominent example of my ‘not so favorite’ compromise is my lovely, eight year old horse with hock arthritis of a 20 year old Grand Prix jumper.  That was a compromise I accepted when I took ownership of him.  I got a sweet, capable horse who is willing to jump his heart out for me.  I didn’t have to pay for him, but I will maintain those issues for the rest of his life.


To me, compromise is so important when it comes to horses that I will make the bold statement and say that people who often find themselves continually unhappy with their equestrian life are unwilling to compromise.  Another way to phrase this?  Searching for perfection will drive you insane.  I don’t think you can be happy with horses if you expect and or demand perfection in every aspect of your horse life.

It’s one thing to come to the realization that a barn or trainer isn’t working for you, and move along.  That’s natural and we’d all be idiots if we stayed in the exact same place forever because we accepted everything about it with blinders on.  I think it’s healthy to push for improvements and pursue excellence in areas of horse health, training, fitness and showing. It’s an entirely different scenario though to go through many different establishments / trainers / horses / saddles / disciplines dismissing one after another as not living up to your definition of perfection.


What I think will drive you to madness and/or unhappiness, is expecting your horse to be 100% sound 100% of the time.  Don’t take that as me saying “Don’t call the vet!  Lameness is fine!  Who cares if he’s a little off?”  What I mean is, for many horses soundness is a bit of a moving target.  Maybe it’s a longer warmup, special shoeing, or a slightly different gait than what would be typical for many.  Check in with your vet and your trainer as always, but don’t let the search of the perfect trot drive you to insanity (ask me how I know).


You can apply the same logic to anything related to horses.  I really think we have to be able to compromise in able to cope.

Of course, there are things I an unwavering on.  Simon’s happiness is not up for discussion.  If he hates his job or is unhappy more often than not, something needs to change.  Another would be overall health and care at his boarding place.  For me, those line items are my compromise free zone.

In other ways, I’m willing to accept the good with the bad.  No trainer I’ve ever had has been perfect, but they’ve all taught me so much and I adore him.  I don’t need flashy facilities if my horse has good turnout and safe food to eat.


What do you think on the subject?  Does accepting compromise lead to equestrian happiness in your eyes?  What things are you willing to compromise on, and what things are you not?


22 thoughts on “Calling for Compromise

  1. Great topic!

    I find I’m most unhappy when I’m trying to make everything be perfect and fit into an idealized timeline that is only realistic for someone in a program with a competent pro. When I step back and realize that I’m making my horse myself and what more, that it’s fun, I’m so much happier.

    Yeah, we aren’t going to take the show circuit by storm and I might never go to an A show, but that’s not why I’m here.

    1. Yes, totally. I get stressed out when I set very black and white show related goals for myself for the year, but then don’t come close to achieving them. For me, I have to set my ‘standards’ in a bit more of a gray gradient in order to be happy with my equestrian journey.

      1. This is actually one reason I DON’T set yearly/quarterly/whatever goals. I have no real idea of where my horse and I will be in three months or six month or a year… maybe we’ll be killing third level, maybe we’ll be in the middle of recovering from an injury. I think it’s good to have FLEXIBLE goals, but it’s even more important to be able to evaluate yourself and the horse constantly and be accepting of where you are. Sure, you can always push for more, but there’s no reason to set a goal just for the sake of doing so.

        Ok, that wasn’t about compromise. Whoops!

  2. nice post – and an important subject. my grandfather has a similar philosophy wherein we should aim to ‘optimize’ rather than ‘maximize.’ if we try to maximize everything, disappointment is inevitable. but optimizing allows us to focus on the important stuff…

  3. I struggle with the timeline thing a bit with my young horses and feel like I’m never going to get ‘there’ (First problem – not even sure where `there`is!) I hear you about the lameness thing, there were a number of older horses at the barn this summer who maybe aren`t 100% sound on any given day, but still go around quite happily.

  4. I believe that acceptance and compromise are the key to happiness. So many people [myself included] spend time, energy and money chasing perfection and it’s miserable. When instead, just changing your attitude and perception can make you happy today, right now!

  5. I’d say that budget dictates most of my compromise. If my financial pitcure was different, I probably would have purchased a horse with more training & experience in my chosen discipline. I joke and say that my horse is my $1500 bargain horse, but the reality is that I am really lucky to have found something sound and sane for that price. The compromise is that he is 9 and pretty much green broke. And, because I bought him from a dealer who got him at auction, I have no idea what his life was like from ages 2-9. If I had to guess, I’d say he was someone’s backyard trail horse. If there was more room in the budget, I would definitely pay to have a pro ride him 1x a week. My compromise is that I had him vetted, got his teeth done, had a saddle fitter come out, had a chiro look at him. He is 100% sound and in no pain. He is, however, stiff, green, and somewhat opinionated about ring work. Sometimes I get discouraged. Walk-trot can be challenging at times. We currently have no canter. My hope is that someday I will have a horse that is w/t/c broke that I can play around in a few disciplines at low levels.

  6. Things can’t be perfect 100% of the time but I do expect myself to step up to the plate when riding and I do.expect my horses care to be unwavering… Hence why I am at the barn every day.

    I am all work and so if Henry in our rides which makes us a good pair.

    No one is perfect but high expectations are ok in my book 🙂

  7. What a timely post for me.

    Agree with many things said about re: young horses and timelines and budget constraints. Additionally, my time is what I’m finding hard to find a good compromise with right now. What days do I want to work the horses? What kinds of workouts? How can I do this so that I can also find a healthy balance with other aspects of my life/fun/work/etc.? It’s a battle right now finding the right answer and right compromise and it’s something I think on daily.

  8. I’m generally pretty easy-going, so compromise isn’t difficult for me. (I’m kind of at the opposite end of the spectrum- I over-compromise!)

    My current compromise is use of my horses in exchange for a discount on board. Sometimes it’s irritating to drive 45 minutes only to find your horses have just been ridden in a lesson, but I remind myself that I’m getting a good deal on excellent care and that I can still spend time with my friends and my ponies even if I’m not riding.

    I also compromise with the horses themselves- I try to listen to what they’re telling me about how they want to work when I ride. If we’re having a terrible ride, I’ll compromise with them- get one good jump or one perfect 20 meter circle and call it a day instead of demanding perfection.

    Horses are a process, I think- a process that involves frequent compromises!

  9. Yes! You can’t have the perfect everything so as long as your horse gets the care he needs people need to compromise. It’s the same when buying a horse as I have learned from my trainer. You are not going to get a perfect horse, so you need find out the most important traits you want and compromise the rest.

  10. Love this post!
    My timeline of training with Romany is my biggest compromise. His progress in training is infuriatingly slow.
    That being said, I know that the time is worth it (although it frustrates me to no end!).
    I’m willing to give him the time he needs- because I know the end result will be awesome.
    I think that if I couldn’t compromise on this (i.e. rushed his training) I’d be in a hospital. It’s a no-brainer 🙂

  11. I needed this, thanks :). I constantly want Estella’s EPM to be 100% under control. It just isn’t going to happen. I can do the best that I can but I am going to go crazy if I don’t accept that.

  12. Compromise is definitely necessary, particularly if you don’t want to go crazy. Goals are a big one. Things you really, really cannot live without (good care, good feed, happy horse) vs things that are nice to have (heated arena, grooming stalls, etc.) As in life there are always compromises to be made and I think it’s very important to decide what is truly worth it to you. The likelihood of one situation ticking every single possible box you want are quite slim. Good example for me: I have this trainer who is absurdly amazing, and I’ve never been happier with a trainer. At this point I would never leave him. But he’s gone… A lot. Competing around the world and doing clinics and in FL for four months which I cannot afford to do. But it’s still 150% worth sticking around… Because when he’s here there is nobody better. It’s definitely a compromise and it’s not one everyone is willing to make. In a perfect world I would have multiple lessons a day every day of thr year!… But it’s not gonna happen.

  13. I try to comprise by not showing and spending what little funds I have on lessons if I don’t have the money for both. Lameness is never a compromise for me. I don’t work lame horses, I don’t bute to ride. If the horse isn’t sound for the job they either get time off or a new job. I was recently at a clinic where the BO told all her riders to bute her horses before they went in and for me, that’s just not acceptable.

  14. I tend to see a bigger problem with people not compromising enough – so many horses are good souls who will compromise when their humans are too selfish to do so. I’ve seen too many horses who continued to go and jump even while lame, because the owners don’t want to give up their dreams. My first horse developed arthritis at age 9 and after a few months of supplements and injections, I quickly realized that I had to give up on my dreams with him and retire him. He was a good boy who would compromise his pain for me, but I had to do the right thing and stop riding him. He’s now an almost 21 year old pasture ornament, but I know that I did the right thing in compromising for him. I owed him that.

    It’s refreshing when I see people who realize that their horses, whether physically or mentally, aren’t suited for the discipline that they dream of, and to see those people seek out something that better suits their horse, whether it’s switching from jumpers to dressage or hunters to eventing. I generally wish that I saw more compromise in people and less in their horses.

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