The answer is, much like my horse, complicated.
There are times, especially when Murray has been in regular work, that he is going so well and so easily that I feel like anyone could get on him. I actually did this a few times in Spring 2015, when my friends and I would pony swap and ride each others’ horses around. Murray was super — he rode just like I said he would and jumped everything they pointed him at and even dressaged kinda cutely. It was super. He was a rock star! I even promised my roommate that after the Camelot event she could jump him around a bit bigger, I just wanted his health/safety/etc. to be solely my concern until after the event. And then the evidence of his insecurities and poor training reared its ugly head at Camelot and I spent the entire summer and then some working through that.
And basically nobody but me has ridden him since. One good friend and one teenager have ridden him for me while I’m gone, but never more than a handful of rides. And usually he’s good, but they both know me and Murray very well, and know how to keep him fit without engaging meltdown mode.
I really, really want Murray to be the type of horse other people can ride. What I wouldn’t give for a productive trainer ride is not worth having in this universe. I want Murray to get used to all different sizes and shapes of butts on his back. I want Murray to learn to perform under all different conditions and pilots. I want to get other peoples’ opinions on how to ride him better!
The only way to get Murray to this place where other people can ride him is to have other people ride him. After installing really, really, really good manners in him. But other people riding him is still a totally an integral part of this equation.
Thanks to certain flamboyant behaviors that someone insists on pulling out (with alarming frequency recently), not a lot of people are dying to get on Murray. And this is not some round-about way of complimenting myself. I’m not trying to say that it’s impossible or even all that challenging for other people to ride him. He’s not hard to stay on, he’s just not particularly easy to get a productive ride out of. In part because he has learned that by being a punkass he can get out of work with me sometimes, and other people most of the time. I don’t have a ton of data points here, but it there’s a weirdly strong correlation between someone new getting on Murray and asking for work, and a period of screaming and flailing during that ride (don’t worry, I’m not mixing up correlation and causation) before anything productive happens. So the people that I want to ride my horse aren’t really all that interested in riding him — they know they can ride him, they just aren’t interested. With good reason.
And then there are the handful of people who volunteer things like “I’ll ride him!”
Is it painting in too broad of strokes to say that by saying those words you almost immediately disqualify yourself from the pool of people I consider capable of riding Murray?
Perhaps it is unfair of me to generalize like that, but Dunning-Kruger is a thing! A real legit thing! And I think that the people who see Murray being a twerp and are like “I’ll ride him!” either think they can majikally fix him with their special asses — in which case, they need to give me an ass transplant RIGHT AWAY — or think that they can do something that I can’t or won’t do to get him past it (spoiler alert: excluding hurting him, this list has zero items in it). But if someone is so confident that Murray a) won’t act up for them, b) will act up and they can stick it because they are just that good of a rider, and/or c) they can fix him, I suspect they don’t understand enough about riding to realize why I won’t let them on him.
(I should know, because I was that person, and look where it got me: my horse still bucks, can’t go on the bit, and is now habitually jumping exactly -6″ higher than we were almost two years ago.)
In general, I feel like the people who can accomplish b), c), and then a) get paid for their efforts, and are typically pretty done riding horses with attitude problems because they rode so many of them earlier in life.
I have dreams that one day, in his glory years, Murray will be packing kids around, sassing them over fences, but generally being a good guy who teaches kids how to ride. But our current predicament leaves us in something of a “Who can ride my horse?” paradox.