Thanks to the internet, we can get just about everything we want or need without having to wait. Whether you want to download music, order shopping or find the answer to a query, it’s all out there at the click of a mouse.
That’s wonderful, of course, but it can also be a drawback. The trouble is that high-speed living makes us iggmpatient – and with horses, that’s a recipe for disaster.
The friend of a friend recently sent her four-year-old to a professional yard to be backed. Six weeks later, the mare will walk, trot and canter on both reins and has done a couple of short hacks with a sensible escort.
That’s pretty good going and says a lot for the trainer and for the horse’s amenable attitude. Unfortunately, her owner isn’t satisfied. She assumed that her horse would come back to her ready to compete, be able to work on the bit and be able to hack out alone in a busy environment and is complaining that the trainer didn’t do a good job.
The only good news in this depressing scenario is that the owner of the livery yard where the mare is kept is knowledgeable and experienced. Hopefully, she’ll be able to persuade her owner that young horses need time to mature, both physically and mentally, and that if she doesn’t have the patience to allow her that she should find her a home with someone who does and buy a horse who’s been there, done it and got the T-shirt.
You hear similar stories in the veterinary world. Yes, vets can do wonderful things to repair injuries that would once have ended a horse’s career, but they can’t make a damaged tendon put itself back together in a couple of weeks, with or without advances such as stem cell therapy, no matter how anxious the horse’s owner is to start competing again.
Sometimes, slowing down brings the fastest results. If you’re working with a young horse, give him time to absorb what he learns: you wouldn’t expect a child who has been at primary school for a year to be ready to sit his A-levels, would you?
The best trainer of young horses I know has one golden rule. ‘Give it time,’ she says when a horse finds something difficult. With horses, you sometimes have to forget about super-fast broadband and to back to carrier pigeon!