Sweet vs. sound
When I read “Keep Calm and Carry On” (Back Page, EQUUS 470), my stomach shrunk into a pit. As author Bobbie Jo Lieberman searched for a new horse, she wanted to find a safe and smooth mount. But her new horse, Phoenix, has characteristics in common with a horse I had for eight years in the 1990s.
A smooth, kind, willing and personable horse is precious, but when that horse “trips to his knees and continues going down, all the way to the ground” … that’s bad news. Phoenix stayed calm and they were OK---that time. I kept riding my horse, excusing his trips, until one of his falls broke my ankle.
I urge any rider who experiences a horse that trips, stumbles or acts uncoordinated to have a veterinarian do a neurological assessment. The photo of Phoenix depicts a stance that also concerns me. I have a photo of my horse standing in a similar manner, with his legs uneven, when I first brought him home. I thought he was a bit uncoordinated as a 3-year-old so I schooled him to improve his gaits. That helped, but ultimately I was still injured when his neurological deficiency caused him to fall to the ground.
I learned the hard way to look further into soundness no matter how personable, calm and sweet a horse might be. I now ride an athletic and sound mare with plenty of attitude. Personality or soundness? If I can’t have both, then I vote for soundness.
Valerie Lantz Lakeside, Oregon