the what-if train

Sometimes I board the what-if train.

What if Murray had been trained (pun intended) by a professional from the beginning?


What if Murray was owned by a better rider?


What if I had trained Murray “right” from the beginning?  What if I got him on the outside rein and insisted he go straight and forward and use his body properly?

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Where would he be?

Obviously I don’t know. Nobody does. We don’t get to play Quantum Universe Skipper and check it out, or watch Man in the High Castle videos about our horses in other “could be” universes.

It doesn’t stop me from wondering though.  Would he be further along in his training? Undoubtedly.  Would he be stronger, more confident, more capable, and better behaved on the ground?  Maybe.  Would he still be breaking away from trailers at shows and running over assistant trainers?  A distinct possibility.

I think I can say, without hubris, that I am doing the best I am capable of with Murray.  I know we’re learning together, and that makes things slower and less accurate. Maybe that’s a boon to us.  If I knew more I might expect more, and I might push more.

I’ve met a few fried horses before.  Horses pushed too fast or to hard or given too many inconsistent signals.  Would Murray fry?  Maybe.  I know from past experience that trying to bully push him beyond what he is physically comfortable with results in … nothing good.

At the end of the day, I get off the what-if train because I’m truly satisfied with Murray’s progress.  Maybe we would both be doing better if we had other halves.  But that isn’t what we have.  What we do have is a fantastic partnership, and the ability to learn with each other.  We have taught one another how to be better and stronger.  We will go where we can, do what we can, and that will be enough.

It helps that his face is the sweetest and most squishable.



12 thoughts on “the what-if train

  1. Whenever I think I’m going too slow with Tess, I think of the Spanish Riding School – and how the young ones roam the hills until they are 5, and the years it takes to perfect even one movement, while preserving the willingness and spirit of the horse…


  2. His face is the MOST squishable. I want to squish it soon.

    I feel like I’ve been a permanent resident on the what-if train this winter. What if I was a better rider/trainer? What if I were more confident? What if we hadn’t had this injury? What if I hadn’t taken that terrible job I hated so much that moved my horse out of his pasture and into the stall where he got hurt?

    It’s so hard to stop. But man you and Murray have come so far together and are doing SO well right now! I can’t wait to see you guys go in person again 😀

    I keep reminding myself that it’s about the journey and either way the time will pass and there’s always time to fix mistakes and that even the highest level horses have holes in their training so I’ll just do my best and try to have fun. But it’s hard, boo.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I can’t wait until you get to come and squish him next!

      The journey is truly the important part for me – I am still learning! I can’t obsess over the destination — there is no destination right now!


  3. Yea this is super relevant to basically how I feel basically always with the new green guy haha. But. I am also doing the best I can do. There are undoubtedly so many more riders who could bring the horse along better / faster / more correctly…. But he’s got me and that’s just gonna have to be ok haha.


  4. We all board that train now and again… but we’re also all doing the best we can, and that’s all anyone can ever ask for.

    LOVE that last pic!


  5. I pretty much live in my own personal boxcar on that train. What if my pony hadn’t been totally mentally fried as a show and lesson horse before I got him? What if I actually knew what I was doing? What if I were braver and didn’t teach him to stop at jumps? What if what if what if? But, at the end of the day, we HAVE come a long way, I’m a much better rider and human being for it, and that’s all we can ask for!


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