From the Ed­i­tor

Horse & Rider - - Contents - You can reach Jen­nifer Paul­son at jpaul­son@aim­me­

THE PROSPECT of up­grad­ing your horse is ex­cit­ing. It shows that you’re ready for more, you can set new goals, and you can ex­pand your ex­per­tise. Rid­ers who like to achieve thrive on that sort of thing. On­ward and up­ward!

But it doesn’t come with­out un­cer­tainty. My fam­ily ex­pe­ri­enced that ear­lier this year when shop­ping for a horse for my old­est son, Leo, age 10. He con­fi­dently ex­pressed his readi­ness to do more in the sad­dle! To chal­lenge him­self and be­come a bet­ter horse­man! How­ever, it seemed like the end of each of his con­fi­dent state­ments trailed off into un­cer­tainty.


We’re most com­fort­able with what we know, whether that’s a horse or a ca­reer or a pair of jeans. The thought of mov­ing on to a new sit­u­a­tion, while ex­cit­ing and ful­fill­ing, can make a per­son un­easy.

This was es­pe­cially true for Leo. He spent the first 4 years of his rid­ing life with a re­li­able, hon­est, old geld­ing who was the epit­ome of a babysit­ter horse. Leo came to know his horse’s ev­ery quirk (he hated the wind) and need (some days were more about stretch­ing the horse’s legs than about rid­ing lessons). To think about rid­ing a younger, more sen­si­tive… MARE… was daunt­ing.


Leo pushed past his un­cer­tain­ties, know­ing he was truly ready for a new chal­lenge. He rec­og­nized that his new horse, “Min­nie,” was the mare to teach him new things. For ex­am­ple, if he thought a se­nior geld­ing was quirky, wait un­til Min­nie came into heat!

Leo was ready to step up. His lessons from his first horse were his foun­da­tion, but Leo knew he’d moved past what the old guy could give him. He was ready for more, and Min­nie was ready to push him to be­come a bet­ter rider.

My youngest son, Joe, hasn’t had the same ex­pe­ri­ence. At age 7, he’s not ready to move out of his com­fort zone and misses his re­li­able old buddy. Bob Avila says in his ar­ti­cle start­ing on page 30, “The right up­grade horse is one you can ride re­ally well.” Joe’s not ready for more horse, so we’re on the hunt for an­other babysit­ter type that Joe can ride con­fi­dently.

It’s cer­tainly a process, and Bob says it best: “When horses are your hobby, there’s noth­ing bet­ter than a horse you can go have fun on 99 per­cent of the time.” We want horses to be a fun, learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for our fam­ily, so it’s well worth the ef­fort to have the kids on horses that are right for them.


Wounds are aw­ful, but they’re part of horse life. What’s worse? When you’re not pre­pared to care for a cut from the time you find it. Con­tribut­ing vet­eri­nar­ian Barb Crabbe takes you through the four stages of wound heal­ing and what you should and shouldn’t do for the best chances of re­cov­ery. Find that on page 40.

Trail rid­ing is sup­posed to be fun and re­lax­ing. But when you’re rid­ing on au­topi­lot, you can build bad habits in your horse that lead him to balk­ing. On page 46, Stacy and Jesse Westfall de­tail how these prob­lems be­gin and what to do to avoid them.

Con­fi­dence-build­ing isn’t just for those with a new horse, as with Leo and Min­nie; we all can use a boost now and then. We of­fer trainer Nancy Cahill’s “crazy cones” ex­er­cise on page 34 to boost your bravado when you need it. (That’s Leo and Min­nie in the pho­tos, show­ing off how far they’ve come in their four months as a pair.)

We look for­ward to your com­ments on the is­sue and en­cour­age you to share what’s go­ing on in your horse life. You can reach me at the email ad­dress be­low.

A horse up­grade is ex­cit­ing and fun—but only if it comes at the right time for the rider.

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