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?
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.