We are seeing more and more students that want to learn everything first, before they buy their own horse. This is of course an excellent starting point. After all, buying the right horse that suits you and then having many years of fun together is the most important thing for every equestrian enthusiast. One of those students who came to us with this exact mindset is a story all in herself.
Paulien had previously ridden at an equestrian centre, but had been out for a long time. Actually, she had to admit that she was a little afraid of horses. She was looking for a calm, sweet and good horse that could help her further.
After a diligent search, she managed to find the horse for her. A ten-year-old gelding who was very experienced. After several test rides, the sale was concluded and the horse, which was called Simon, came home with her. Such a horse is of course a precious possession and only the best of the best was good enough. Before long someone was brought in who could ‘measure’ which food was best for super-Simon, and of course this food was duly purchased immediately.
For the first month, things went great. The two had a lot of fun together, and although Paulien found hacking out a bit exciting, they were getting a lot of practice in the arena. But after a while, things became increasingly difficult. Simon became more and more temperamental in riding. Paulien also noticed that the horse became increasingly spooky and eventually she fell off one day, which did not do her confidence any good.
After regaining her courage, because ‘giving up’ was not in her dictionary, she started riding again. But things were no better. Simon started to become more and more difficult and eventually reared so high that he fell over backwards with the owner on his back. As a result, Paulien broke her ankle, and any and all confidence was gone. In the meantime, Paulien had naturally started to doubt whether this horse was the right animal for her. After some contact it was decided that he would come to us for some good advice.
The horse was brought in and soon he was calmly eating his hay in his stable. After about ten minutes, our head trainer at the time Karel came to me. “Annemarie, you have to look at his feed bucket…” We asked the owner to bring Simon’s feed with her, and this was in in a bucket in the tack room. I looked, and did not believe what I saw. This was Ferrari food! All direct sugars, that certainly do not contribute to a calm horse. It really took some effort to convince Paulien that we wanted to give Simon some different feed. After all, his current feed had been tested by an expert! It was done anyway, and after a week we saw a different horse… A horse that was quietly walking his laps again, calm as you please, with the person who had selected him on his back. Compare it to a good dose of energy drinks for your children (or yourself), you don’t want to know what that does to behaviour!