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?